Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns


California at Sunset

Jennifer Rubin writes a piece on the rise and coming fall of California that is both moving and devastating.  The article is part book review and part personal reflection.  Rubin pays special attention to California Crackup:  How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It by Joe Mathews and Mark Paul, and she tells her own story of moving to California as a child and, then, of her decision (in 2005) to re-locate.  But even more than book review or reminiscence, Rubin's is a cautionary tale for populists and reformers of every political stripe.  She cites many examples, but perhaps the best of these are the stories of the unintended consequences of Proposition 13 and term limits.  A good test for the seriousness of any Tea Party candidate or supporter going forward might be to question their understanding of the perils of reform Rubin so wisely addresses in this article.  For Rubin hints at something the Founders understood well:  people generally tend to get the kind of government they deserve.  Put another way (and to borrow from Jefferson), "though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will, to be rightful, must be reasonable." 

It is popular sport in California to pin blame for our woes on one or another group of special interests or on one or another political party or politician.  In the end, however, the fact remains that it comes down to the people of California.  They pushed for reforms that made it less and less likely that California's majorities would be reasonable and now we find ourselves in a situation where even as we try to dig out, we dig deeper--using, as we are, the same broken (and progressive) shovels and instruction manuals that got us into this hole.  The question for California needs to be less about how we arrange things to make it easier for a majority prevail and less about trying to keep majorities in check with artificial and easily surmounted barriers (i.e., term limits) than it is about how it is we can do the hard work of making the majority of Californians reasonable and therefore worthy of the self-government that is their right.  The same ought to hold true in the rest of the country.  Tea Partiers should look at the example of California and be very suspicious of people who market quick fixes to governmental woes by proposing to make government even more reflective of the will of the majority.  Whether they mean to make government more reflective of popular will or make their own will more popular is, most often, unclear.  But one thing that appears to be very clear is that the actual results of these bulldozing mechanisms seem rarely to live up to the golden promises. 
Categories > Politics

Discussions - 2 Comments

I too read Jennifer Rubin's great article on Communist/Liberal California. I have one up on Jennifer as I was born and raised in the SF Bay Area (I have lived only two years of my life away from California) and have watched the rise and fall of Commie California with great sadness. Yes Commie California along with Liberal San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland and the West Bay got exactly what they deserved. California commies nowadays are more worried about legalizing pot (like we have enough ex-crackheads and ex-pot heads running state, city and county governments) than they are about the growing state, city and county governments that are awashed in debt that cannot be repaid. The majority of this debt is tied to salaries and pensions. The City of Oakland recently laid off 87 police offiers. The average salary including benefits, retirement and overtime of an Oakland Police Officer is about $198,000 per year. Because of this lay off, the Police Chief of Oakland listed about 40 crimes that will not be covered by the Oakland Police Department because they do not have the man power to respond to these types of calls any longer. Not only are the citizens of Oakland not protected by the police for certain crimes, but now their home values have really tanked - this also means smaller property tax revenues for the state. Millions of homeowners in California are now having their property taxes reassessed as their home values have fallen 40 and 50 percent of their purchase price. Every day we hear of city and county government employees (mostly liberal and democrat) that have extorted, abused and wasted taxpayer money. Moreover, we hear about state worker unions that have extorted, wasted and abuse penion funds and worker's union dues. Thanks to Governor Moonbeam Jerry Brown and his Dill Act of 1978 which allowed state, city and county workers to unionize, California has been downhill on overdrive. These unions are now very powerful, especially the Prison's Guards and Teacher's Unions that spend millions and millions of dollars (from worker's union dues) to campaign for whoever will give them their high salaries, free benefits and pay 100% of their pensions plans. These union benefits are all nice, but the problem here is that there is no money to fund them. California is broke. But there is a bright side to all of this. There is a good possibility that Jerry Brown will win the governorship of the great state of Communist California. I don't believe that the blue state of California has quite yet learned their lessons. The Blue people who live in the S.F. Bay Area and Los Angeles are still looking for that feel good feeling. Once in office Brown will give the liberals and the unions exactly what they want. California will go broke and all the King's Horses and All The King's Men won't be able to put it back together. My new bumper sticker: California - a Failed Experiment Brought To You By Liberals.

Here is a gem on Drudge Report today:

$69 Million in California Welfare Spent Out of State:

Where - on cruise ships, Hawaiian beaches and of course Las Vegas. Yep. We are helping the "poor people" feel good about themselves...

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