Gone Is the Romance of California

Perhaps if all the disgruntled voters who left California in recent years were still there to favor the recall of Gavin Newsom, his political career would have ended last Tuesday.  During the 2010s, about 6.1 million people moved from California to other states, while 4.9 million came from other places to California.

The demographics of the leave-takers is unclear, but the new arrivals include many from foreign countries, along with wealthy corporate types who could afford the move.  Declining birth rates among young people in California and more deaths due to the increasing numbers of elderly also played a part in lowering California's population

Such "exchange of prisoners," as it were, perfectly suits the goals of the Democrat party, which is to keep California a deep blue political stronghold and to strengthen its national clout by cosseting the minority and white liberal vote.

But while Newsom's team is crowing over the recall results, the fact is that the governor's support from minorities — 63% from people "of color"; 60% among Hispanics — represents the weakest showing a California Democrat has received in recent memory.  And this should be cause for worry, at least behind the scenes.

I happen to be one of those who recently joined the exodus from what was once the Promised Land.  During my fourscore years in California, I had left twice before to accept out-of-state jobs, in each case returning after about a year.  For whatever reason, one becomes accustomed to the state's presumed "cutting edge," even if inflicts some lifestyle wounds.

When I first settled there in the mid-1950s, it was truly a land of milk and honey.  Employment opportunities were plentiful; houses were affordable; the landscape was appealing.  California duly laid claim to being "The Golden State."  And the benign weather has always been a draw.

Our first home in Southern California is still — if barely — standing.  We purchased that trendy fifties-style "ranch" house — heavy on windows, light on construction — for around $7,000.  The lath and plaster walls were so thin that bamboo shoots from the garden speared their way into the living room.  Yet in today's market, similar homes in that tract are selling for almost a million.  And the buyers are tearing them down to build McMansions.

There is something about California that many who leave it miss.  But once the decision is made, not many of them return.  In my case, I can no longer afford to do so.  And the hassle of gridlock and general degeneration is too much even to contemplate.

I was there when the citizens of California launched a more successful recall effort against Democrat Gray Davis when he was eleven months into his second term as the state's 37th governor.  One of the big issues propelling Davis's ouster was his stance on gun legislation.  While that concern remains high for some, it is now dwarfed by the more visible ones like homelessness, traffic, rolling blackouts, poor management of natural resources, increased crime, outlandish living costs, and high taxes.  A sizable earthquake has not happened in a while, but the fault lines are everywhere under California...and waiting.

Ironically, those parts of the state with the highest percentage of "yes" votes for Newsom's recall — e.g., Orange County — are the ones with the least visible problems.  Perhaps they were hoping to keep it that way.

Davis's successor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, was the last Republican to serve as California's governor.  And now — perhaps because the entire state's political machinery is controlled by Democrats — many voters advocate against the right of allowing recalls, which for over a hundred years has been a part of the state's political system.  They say elections should be the only means by which office-holders can be chosen.  Ironically, these are often the same people who were in favor of repeatedly trying to impeach President Trump.

Democracy in action notwithstanding, the objection to the recall came largely from those who considered it too costly.  One estimate pegged the expenditures at more than a half-million dollars.

Though polls almost always showed the governor ahead, a lot of money was poured into the Newsom campaign, even mounting a rally attended by feeble, feckless President Biden, who was nudged onto the stage, urged to wave to the crowd, and then hustled off lest he decide to speak without a teleprompter.

On the other hand, hypocritical cost-conscious Democrats didn't blink when Governor Jerry "Moonbeam" Brown left California with a $100-billion debt for his aborted dream of a high-speed bullet train between Los Angeles and San Francisco, whose tracks in either direction were never laid beyond the weeds of Central California.  And you won't hear them objecting, either, to the Biden administration's recent restoration of a $949-million federal grant for that unpopular project to continue.

Newsom is likewise a hypocrite, caught dining maskless indoors with lobbyists at California's most expensive restaurant, running up a bar bill reportedly in excess of $15,000 — and then lecturing Californians to wear masks and stay home to eat.

 The results of Newsom's campaign efforts were achieved not by hashing out issues, but by lashing out at opponents.  The usual scapegoats for his inefficiency were global warming (fires and climate problems); racism (a Los Angeles Times op-ed improbably labeling Republican contender Larry Elders as "the black face of white supremacy"); and, of course, Donald J. Trump.

After the results of the 2020 election, you'd think Democrats would be ecstatic that Trump was no longer in the political limelight.  Yet they keep dragging him back in order to politically weaponize their abject hatred for the man.  They consider him an ideal lethal arrow with which to strike fear in the liberal electorate and a much-needed scapegoat on whom everything bad in this administration can be conveniently blamed.

It's not enough that The Donald is gone from public office.  Voters are now warned that all Republican candidates are Trump clones, diabolically "in the no" when it comes to legislating a platform of horrors, such as no women's rights (particularly abortions), no welfare, no affordable health insurance, no "fair share" of taxes from the rich, no election integrity, no voting rights for minorities, no funds for public schools — just an angry army of white supremacists poised to make every day Jan. 6.

Democrat leaders have also begun using threats of punishment to blunt the recalcitrant into submission.  Yet from what we can tell, the large numbers of migrants flowing into our country and settling in California and other states are exempt from such crackdowns.  For guys like Gavin, these newcomers are the future salvation of the Democrat party.  Give them handouts and accelerated amnesty.  Then remind them how they should vote.

Failure to recall the governor of California may be considered a blow to his foes. Yet perhaps there is some vague hope in the knowledge that one out of every three voters in deep-blue California wanted Pretty Boy Gavin gone.  Maybe in time that will do to Newsom what Chappaquiddick did to Ted Kennedy: minimize his prospects of running for president of the United States.  But even though I now live in Las Vegas, I wouldn't bet on it.

Image: Gage Skidmore via Flickr.

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