California's Road to Perdition
California was once the envy of everyone. But this promised land is now being controlled by a super-majority of leftists, and the liberal, pro-union Democrats have only one answer to California's woes: to raise taxes. With that in mind, American Thinker asked California representatives if, after the 2012 election, Republicans become an archaic party in this state.
There are many reasons why California Republicans took such a shellacking. Congressman Tom McClintock (R-CA) emphasizes the key word: "communication. The Democrats had monopoly control over the message. Republicans need to pull up their socks and wipe their noses to get back into the game."
Congressman Brian Bilbray (R-CA) recently lost his re-election bid to what he calls "the political perfect storm." There was Proposition 30, which will raise income taxes on the wealthiest Californian citizens and temporarily increase the sales tax by a quarter of one percent to supposedly fund schools, colleges, and universities. The congressman argues, "Governor Jerry Brown and the Democrats worked college campuses, getting students to turn out to vote so their tuition would be kept down. Students were recruited and registered, unions turned out in numbers, and Obama, an incumbent president, was on the ballot. This was the largest turnout in history for this state."
There was also Proposition 32, which would have banned union contributions to state and local candidates. Unions made sure they turned out the vote to kill this initiative, since they did not want to lose the ability to withhold money from worker paychecks for political spending. The unions in California engage in vote-harvesting, where they register people who would not normally have voted on their own and get them to vote, many times by absentee ballots.
What should Republicans do to restore the party to viability? California Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R), who is thinking of running for governor, sees the need to do an effective job of registering people and getting them to vote. "The Democrats spent $15 million on it and started months before the elections. We should rebuild the party from the precincts up. People have to get to know you in person."
Congressman Devin Nunes (R-CA) wants Republicans to point out the obvious: if taxes are raised, people will leave the state and take their capital with them. He believes that those who are entrepreneurial, young professionals, and even retirees will leave the state. He relayed how a recently retired friend left California for Idaho, where "he was able to save $15,000 a year between a reduction on sales tax, property tax, and income tax. We are at a tipping point. This is the hollowing out of our economy. The numbers do not add up. The increased taxes will raise a supposed $6 billion, while the shortfall is about $20 billion."
Donnelly sees dark days ahead for Californians. The state has the highest tax rates; there is talk of tripling the car rates and repealing the Proposition 13 tax cap for commercial property. Donnelly wants Republicans to go into the neighborhoods and ask a lot of questions, such as: with the tax increase, have you voted yourself out of a job? Do you think businesses will stay here, or go to business-friendlier states? As a renter, not a homeowner, don't you think the landlord tax increases will be passed on to you, causing rents to skyrocket?
Donnelly is hoping that Californians will be awakened and tie the results to the Democratic policies. "After people get sick, and they will, of higher taxes, fewer jobs, and the left's overreach, they will consider myself and other Republicans as viable, realistic candidates."
Congressman Bilbray is frustrated with some Republicans. "We can't eat our own. Don't destroy those who can win those tough seats. For example, we should not have gone for the most pure candidate in Nevada, the only one whom Harry Reid could have beaten. Being right is not enough. We have to be smart also. It's about a team effort. Todd [Akin, who ran for the Missouri Senate seat] hurt everyone else. What he said was used as a weapon for the Democrats. The Democrats play us like a fiddle. California Republicans have to find the right candidates that are electable."
Everyone interviewed agreed that the Democrats in their infinite wisdom of raising business taxes and increasing regulations will cause California's troubles to get much worse. Congressman Bilbray points out that scientists at UCSD who were creating green jobs, something the Democrats should have loved, "have picked up and left the state for New Mexico. The reason they left is that they had to file for 47 different permits. Regulations are more important than saving jobs. Even Hollywood is not filming here because of the taxes and having to pay unionized workers."
California Republicans can take a lesson from the national scene. In 2008, the Democrats won a super-majority in both houses of Congress, but because of their overreach and leftist agenda, Americans were awakened, voting in a Republican majority in the House of Representatives in 2010. The Sacramento Democrats think they can tax and regulate the private economy without any consequences except falling off the fiscal cliff. The current good news, although not for Californians, is that the rest of the U.S. will see how the left have ruined this state and turned it into a basket case, and they might take it as a lesson learned.
As for Californians, they will hopefully wake up and realize that there is nothing in the state constitution that says they have to be governed by idiots forever.
The author writes for American Thinker. She has done book reviews and author interviews and has written a number of national security, political, and foreign policy articles.