Saturday, April 14, 2018

California shows how GOP dies

An East Coast political pundit paid a visit to the exotic Wild West -- and noticed what those of us who live here already know: California passed through the white panic stage of the national demographic change over a decade ago and is demonstrating what a more civilized country might look like if U.S. democracy can survive Trump's kakistocracy. (Thanks to John Brennan for popularizing an academic word for government of the worst.)

The New Yorker's John Cassidy writes:

In many ways, the Golden State represents the American future that Trump—with his white nativism and economic protectionism—is trying to turn back, Canute style.

The 1990s in California were rough. The local Republicans recognized that their numerical advantage among the electorate was temporary -- soon enough (around 2000) all those Black, Brown, and Asian newcomers would outnumber them, even if these citizens weren't voting yet. So we lived through a series of attempts mostly driven by older whites to use government policy to slow the efficacy of demographic change: we passed initiatives that outlawed affirmative action in the university system (still in place), denied public services to immigrants (ruled unconstitutional), a three strikes law that locked up people (many of color) for life for relatively minor offenses, and outlawed most bilingual education (repealed in 2016).

But we lived through this storm of repressive white populism -- and came out in a California that should offer hope to the rest of the country. I think I know why. In Whiteness run amok, I laid out why I think we were so fortunate.

California is not a racial and social nirvana. Our (quite diverse) cops shoot black and brown men without justification all too frequently. A widening divide between economic winners and losers expresses itself in a housing crisis; nowhere in this state can people making even our quite high minimum wage afford available homes. But we have left the Trump/GOP train. Those politics don't work here.

Peter Leyden and Ruy Teixeira have characterized the state of the nation as verging on a civil war in which Republicans and Democrats represent very different futures. Their vision of how this all works out is both dire and exhilerating.

The red states held by the Republicans are deeply entrenched in carbon-based energy systems like coal and oil. They consequently deny the science of climate change, are trying to resuscitate the dying coal industry, and recently have begun to open up coastal waters to oil drilling.

The blue states held by the Democrats are increasingly shifting to clean energy like solar and installing policies that wean the energy system off carbon. In the era of climate change, with the mounting pressure of increased natural disasters, something must give. We can’t have one step forward, one step back every time an administration changes. One side or the other has to win.

... The differences between two economic systems or two classes that are fundamentally at odds could conceivably get worked out through a political process that peacefully resolves differences. However, culture frequently gets in the way. That’s especially true when pressures are building for big system overhauls that will create new winners and losers.

They are confident this doesn't end well for the Republican party:

... the entire Republican Party, and the entire conservative movement that has controlled it for the past four decades, is fully positioned for the final takedown that will cast them out for a long period of time in the political wilderness. They deserve it. Let’s just say what needs to be said: The Republican Party over the past 40 years has maneuvered itself into a position where they are the bad guys on the wrong side of history. For a long time, they have been able to hide this fact through a sophisticated series of veils, invoking cultural voodoo that fools a large enough number of Americans to stay in the game. However, Donald Trump has laid waste to that sophistication and has given America and the world the raw version of what current conservative politics is all about.

Where they write "cultural voodoo," I would say racial resentment. I think California proves these authors are right: the Republican party is simply no longer significant in California outside isolated rural pockets. Even Orange County is turning blue. Leyden and Teixeira conclude:

... political change is slow until it’s very fast. The fall of the GOP is likely to be no different.

Let's make it so. We must resist and protect much; be compassion with one another; and win.

Thanks to the Labor Center at UC Berkeley for documenting the state's condition in the video.


Rain Trueax said...

this is irony to read this today when I just put up an opposite view with two links. My links came from researching something you wrote about earlier and it led me to two Guardian articles-- one regarding what you had written about and the other an offshoot from it. You might check it out when you have time-- especially if you haven't read the articles ;)

janinsanfran said...

The Guardian has been terrific at chronicling San Francisco police shooting -- of which we've recently had another in my neighborhood.

Rain Trueax said...

They are my daily go-to source as i feel they cover a lot that others don't with their US version