California's politics are about to get even crazier in 2019 (but there's a silver lining for the GOP)

My former boss, President Ronald Reagan, famously said: “You can’t be for big government, big taxes, and big bureaucracy and still be for the little guy.” Unfortunately, the Democrats who have a stranglehold on power in California state government are ignoring the advice of the former president and governor of their state.

Californians are suffering as a result.

The Golden State has long been a leader in innovative technology, creative entertainment and global thought leadership on environmental issues. But while California leads in high-level progressive ideology, it struggles with basic math and common sense – and the dire consequences of those deficiencies are about to be exposed.

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Democrats seem to believe the solution to every problem is for the state to spend more taxpayer dollars, followed by an increase in taxes to fund the expanded programs.

Californians elected Democrat Gavin Newsom in November to be the state’s next governor after he served as lieutenant governor and mayor of San Francisco.

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If the streets of once-beautiful San Francisco are any indication of what is in store for the rest of the state, then we all should download the Snapcrap app on our phones right now to ensure that human waste will be removed from the sidewalks and streets of our communities in a timely manner, just like folks do in San Francisco.

“Snapcrap lets you take pictures of poop on sidewalks and report to the city,” the CNET website helpfully points out.

Newsom, who will be inaugurated Jan. 7, is a firm believer in the far-left orthodoxy of big government and high taxes – the polar opposite of President Reagan’s political philosophy.

If the streets of once-beautiful San Francisco are any indication of what is in store for the rest of the state, then we all should download the Snapcrap app on our phones right now to ensure that human waste will be removed from the sidewalks and streets of our communities in a timely manner, just like folks do in San Francisco.

The incoming governor is nationally recognized as an advocate for universal health-care, same-sex marriage, and legalization of marijuana. He is vocal about continuing California’s sanctuary state status in direct violation of federal laws, and has supported allowing illegal immigrants in California to get driver’s licenses.

We Californians are already burdened with the nation’s highest personal income tax, second-highest gasoline tax and other high taxes. Yet the Democrats who rule continue to cower in fear of those on the extreme left, bending to their every whim and caving to their every demand – and making it ever more expensive to live in the state.

For example, regulators have decided to require new homes in California to be equipped with solar power panels beginning in 2020. Even The New York Times acknowledged that this “will add thousands of dollars to the cost of (a) home when a shortage of affordable housing is one of California’s most pressing issues.”

But don’t worry about the cost increase – there’s a solution to help those who can’t afford homes. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Democratic state Sen. Scott Weiner is working on a proposal to give everyone in California a “right to shelter,” guaranteeing every homeless person a shelter bed.

Weiner “doesn’t know exactly how it will work. He doesn’t know how much it will cost or how it will be funded,” the Chronicle reported Dec. 11.

In another example of a costly program, starting in 2029 all mass transit agencies in the state will be allowed to purchase only fully electric-powered buses.

A “text tax” was proposed for the state but has been rejected for now. And the city of Stockton is even experimenting with providing a guaranteed basic income.

It appears that money is no object for California Democrats as their drive to create high-priced programs ever marches on.

Regardless of your position on each of these issues, when there are bankrupt cities throughout the state, towns without potable water, unaffordable housing, and unfunded liabilities for state employee pensions, anyone with a calculator should be able to figure out that the state can’t keep spending and spending and spending on new and expanded program.

Already, the state ranks 50th out of the 50 states for overall quality of life. It’s clear that California has fundamental economic and foundational flaws that urgently need addressing.

The state’s problems are not just cosmetic blemishes. They cannot be fixed by all the Botox in Hollywood, nor can they be resolved by continuing to increase our debt.

These unsustainable programs not only cost the state money it doesn’t have, but will make California a continued magnet for new residents coming to collect new benefits and take advantage of services, further escalating both demand and expense.

Gov.-elect Newsom’s ability to push yet more spending programs through the Legislature –   with no regard to the price tag – should be blissfully unobstructed, because starting in January Democrats will have supermajorities in both houses of the Legislature.

Supermajorities give the Democrats the ability to raise taxes, craft state bond measure, and override vetoes by the governor without the support of Republicans.

As a result, Republicans will have all the power of potted plants in the Legislature. They can complain, but they can’t pass any bills or even block Democrats from doing anything the Democrats please.

Absolute power in the hands of California Democrats is dangerous. Their pathway forward is a counterproductive and expensive one that will lead to a lower standard of living for all Californians, rather than greater opportunity and achievement.

In California, small business owners, families, veterans, millennials and farmers are being punished, while government is being promoted. The Democrats claim to be the party of “the little guy,” yet they can’t simultaneously advance the livelihood of the average Californian while feeding the machine of government bureaucracy. And we already know who wins that tug-of-war.

The wisdom of Ronald Reagan about the benefits of small government and low taxes continues to ring true.

We see in California a microcosm of the nation – a widening gap between the haves and the have-nots; those in power and those who are powerless.

The middle-class is being driven out of California by oppressive taxes and excessive regulation. The wealthy can afford high taxes and can hire lawyers and lobbyists to find loopholes to help them minimize their taxes and get around regulations. The poor are attracted by the state’s generous social safety net.

But hard-working families who are neither rich nor poor, along with small-businesses, are being squeezed by high taxes and the need to comply with expensive regulations. This is not sustainable.

However, just as the economic chasm is widening in California, so is the ideological one – and this could be good news for Republicans in the state and perhaps indicate a national trend.

Democrats obviously are the majority party, but Republicans are now the third-largest voting bloc, with the second-largest being those who identify as independent or decline to give their party affiliation.

This shows a growing disconnect between those in power and the voting public. That second-largest voting bloc is made up of people who are not in lockstep with the increasingly destabilizing agenda of the left. I believe these voters want increased fiscal responsibility with increased neutrality on hot-button social issues.

While these Californians care about social issues, they don’t believe these issues should supersede financial common sense. It will be interesting to watch this dynamic play out as the state Legislature and new governor continue to steer further and further left, while more and more are dropping their Democratic affiliation.

Similarly, we see all across the nation that increasingly liberal policies are beginning to divide the Democratic Party itself. This will be more apparent in the new year as several dozen Democrats are expected to declare their candidacies for their party’s 2020 presidential nomination and try to compete for support from the party’s base by seeking to outdo each other in how far left they can go.

In this, I see a wide open lane of opportunity for candidates who can articulate a platform of common sense that includes – not isolates – mainstream voters who are being increasingly underrepresented, or feel they have no representation at all.

Call this the golden lane of opportunity. Will someone in the Golden State or in the United States seize it?

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