Hanson on California: The picture is bleak

Victor Davis Hanson, whose family has lived in California for generations, has written a new book.  Jarrett Stepman of Breitbart reviewed The Decline and Fall of California: From Decadence to Destruction, where Hanson paints a stark picture of California’s decline from a state that exemplified the American Dream to one crushed under the weight of its utopian vision.

… Clearly modeled on famous British historian Edward Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Hanson’s book makes it clear that the increasingly dystopian California has been the author of its own decline. A half-century of bad policy and failed ideology has reduced the Golden State to a shell of its former glory.

Hanson -- a college professor, a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, and an expert in the classics -- is a product of many generations of Californians who made their home in the state’s mostly agricultural central valley. Few come closer to Thomas Jefferson’s idealized philosopher-farmer than Hanson, who is highly educated in history, warfare, and philosophy, yet runs a working farm like his forefathers.

Unfortunately, Hanson’s prognosis for California is bleak-- especially for conservatives and middle-class Americans. “The old blue/red war for California is over,” Hanson writes. “Conservatives lost. Liberals won-- by a combination of flooding the state with government-supplied stuff, and welcoming millions in while showing the exit to others.”….

…The Republican Party’s power in the state is relegated to a few holdouts from the less populated, red interior. Most of the California GOP’s leadership embraces the most watered-down “me-too” liberalism. The feeble resistance to the left’s big government designs mostly comes from moderate Democrats if it comes at all. It is clear that Hanson is mostly attempting to warn fellow Americans about a future that looks like California, rather than preach to his native state which is intent to keep the wheels of history turning in a militantly progressive direction.

The last paragraph, above, sounds an alarm that all should heed.  As the expression warns: as California goes, so goes the nation.  And, indeed, are we not seeing the California effect across the country?

Hanson writes about a state that is over-taxed and over-regulated, with an infrastructure that has been misappropriated by environmentalists.  He writes: “Those who had stopped the building of more unnatural dams – a green movement birthed among the opulence of Northern California that sought exemption from the ramifications of its own ideology – now wanted infrastructure to store the water necessary for its own dreams of replenishing salmon in the rivers.”

Hanson also addresses the mass exodus from California. I see this as an enormous problem, as people from California (and other high-tax blue states) move into red or purple states, shifting the political balance and making it increasingly difficult for conservatives to overcome a Democratic electoral college advantage that just keeps growing.

The impact of these policies has been enormous. The agricultural heart of the state has dried up, the middle-class has fled to more favorable tax environments, and new, mostly illegal immigrants – who come in droves due to the open borders policies of the state’s elites -- find fewer and fewer opportunities to rise out of their condition. However, the elites are mostly ensconced in affluent corridors and immune to the negative effects of their ideas.

Hanson paints a picture that is bleak while perceiving a small shred of hope in California’s newest residents from Mexico and Latin America.  He hopes they would be able to climb the economic ladder and ultimately throw out the leftists (who live in high concentrations along the thin western coast of the state).  The Breitbart review continues:

“Is there hope? Can there be honesty about our crises and courage to address them?” Hanson writes. “I sometimes fantasize that a new conservative movement of second- and third-generation upper middle-class, over-taxed Mexican-Americans will demand competitive schools for their children without the fantasies of Chicano studies and coastal global warming indoctrination.”

Hanson hopes that this new middle class “will push for energy development, beefed-up law enforcement, and reasonable taxes and power rates, and so lock horns with the coastal elites, well apart from abortion, the death penalty, and the constant alternative lifestyle agenda. Some already are heading that way; more would if the borders were closed and the old forces of the melting pot were not impeded.”

Maybe I’m just a pessimist, but I see no reason why Latinos would awaken to the dangers of the left more than any other demographic group.  But maybe that’s just me.

The review ends with this overview:

Hanson’s book is an excellent primer for Californians and Americans in general to discover what went wrong in a state with almost unlimited natural and geographical advantages. It is a dissection of the rapid descent of the Golden State that stood above all others in power, wealth, and prestige–to a national laughingstock in three generations.

If you’d like to purchase Hanson’s book, here’s a link to Amazon, where the book appears to be sold in Kindle format only.