On the surface, California is an amazing place. As the former Republican Party Chairman and public speaker, I have traveled the state relentlessly for nearly 17 years and, I can assure you, the beauty and diversity of its landscapes are likely unparalleled in this country. But as the world is learning, there is more to the story -- California is a ticking time bomb.
After decades of one-party rule by the Democrats, California is beset by serious problems. In the last several years, homelessness and rising crime have become California’s lead stories. Long before the media took notice of that, however, California became unsustainable with staggering amounts of public debt, including unfunded pensions and infrastructure deficiencies that top $2 trillion dollars.
Despite state government spending over $200 billion a year, California can’t even reliably deliver water to its people and farmers or even electricity to its people and businesses. Indeed, its new leading industry, high tech, recently delivered a harsh message to government leaders that if they cannot be assured of receiving reliable energy, they could not stay in California.
Of course, seeing the writing on the wall, thousands upon thousands of businesses, large and small have already left the state. They know of the tax increases that will be imposed on top of the already highest in the nation’s regulations and taxes. They simply don’t want to be around when that time comes.
That is not the whole story, however. For seven years in a row, California has seen more people leave for other states than have arrived from other states. Of those leaving, many are Republicans and conservatives.
That is not a new dynamic but it is becoming more prevalent and a fine point was put on it when a recent poll from UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies published this polling headline: “Leaving California: Half of State’s Voters Have Been Considering This; Republicans and Conservatives Three Times as likely as Democrats and Liberals to be Giving Serious Consideration to Leaving the State”
Why are Republicans and conservatives three times more likely to leave than Democrats and liberals? The answer to that question defines, in part, this era I describe as the Divided Era.
Keep in mind that the more government decides, the more it divides. For every decision, government picks a winner and loser and someone to pay for it. In California, those losers are often taxpayers and lately, to an ever greater degree, it is also those who disagree with California’s liberal ideology.
Keep in mind that California is not just a liberal place in theory or in the friendly discussions of its people. On the contrary, California is a very liberal place in practice. It is a very liberal place by law.
Every day, California imposes the left’s view of life on those that live here.
It starts with the teaching of young children in schools. It is not up to parents whether their child is exposed at an early age to sexual issues -- it is imposed. From there, California textbooks continue the practice of imposing liberal views and on college campuses, abortion services are mandated at colleges, just to name a very few issues.
California’s imposed liberality continues in the workplace and in the public square. There is even a movement to end the confidentiality of the confessional. No place appears safe -- not even the whispers between the faithful and their priests.
Obviously, there is a significant percentage of Californians that agree with the above policies in theory. There is a smaller percentage of those people that agree those views necessarily should be imposed on everyone. Certainly, some of those impositions are permissible and have been duly decided by consent given California’s republican form of government.
However, there are the many Californians who don’t believe they should be forced to live the values of their liberal neighbors or those of the Democratic politicians. To be sure, that same dynamic is taking place in other states as well.
Indeed, that dynamic drives the increase in our red state/blue state divide.
We are associative people. That is human nature. Dodger fans associate with Dodger fans and Giant fans do the same with their own. As our governments increasingly impose views on people, however, those who disagree and can afford it are moving out of state, to states where others live and think like them.
For many California Republicans and conservatives, including past chairmen of the California Republican Party, California’s combination of problems brought on by failed government policies, the high taxes that threaten to go higher and the imposition of liberal social views makes them want to disassociate with California. That desire to leave, among those conservatives and Republicans who haven’t already left, grows with each new tax, spending bill and social justice law.
It may well hit a new high after the November election.
This fall, the Democrats have placed an initiative to gut the hitherto sacrosanct 1978 Prop 13 on the ballot. That measure protects property owners from skyrocketing property taxes by limiting yearly increases to two percent a year. The Democrats want to do away with that protection for many commercial property owners.
If that succeeds, not only by the law of economics will property values suffer and therefore the wealth of its people and jobs lost, it will tell the entire state that the floodgate of much higher property taxes is on the way. After all, no one seriously believes the Democrats in Sacramento won’t soon seek to remove the protections for homeowners as well.
So, what is someone to do who doesn’t want to face such an eventuality or who disagrees with government-imposed ideology? The answer is to move. That voting with our feet was in keeping with the desires of our founders. They wanted the states to be free to choose their own policies and people even more free to live where they wanted.
In that way and others, California Republicans and conservatives agree with the founders. They are leaving and they are becoming one of California’s most visible exports. With each one of them that leaves, California becomes ever more blue in more ways than one.