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Red warning lights for Democrats–even in blue CA

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Last Friday’s front page article in the San Francisco Chronicle stated accurately that California “is hardly strictly blue,” a reference to the fact that, in the recent election, state initiatives generally associated with Republicans passed while others associated with Democrats failed. Democratic representatives also lost a string of races to their Republican opponents.

Much is being made of these election results. Republican officials say they presage a “purple” California, where more and more voters are trending Republican. Even though Californians dislike Trump with a passion, their political and social inclinations sometimes tend more towards Republican perspectives rather than, say, towards those of Bernie Sanders or AOC.

Specifically, the Republicans point to the results of the statewide ballot measures, which really were horrible for Democrats. Democrat-supported measures, such as raising property taxes on larger corporations, ending the ban on affirmative action, allowing 17-year olds to vote, expanding rent control, defining gig workers as employees, and eliminating cash money bail, all crashed and burned, in some cases by large majorities. This prompted the state’s Republican political director, Bryan Watkins, to proclaim that Republicans “are right on the issues [and] Democrats aren’t listening to everyday Californians.”

We Californians who register as Democrats—nearly double the number of Republicans—are a lot more centrist than many Democratic activists think. I, myself, voted against almost all of the measures I described above. The only one I supported that failed was raising property taxes on the state’s biggest corporations, which would have raised a ton of money for schools, cops, fire protection and so on. It made a lot of sense, but Republicans successfully convinced voters that if property taxes are raised on corporations, it’s only a matter of time before they’re raised on homeowners. If I thought that, I wouldn’t have voted for Prop 15. The Republican line was a lie, but it worked.

As for the other measures, common sense dictated my votes, not party affiliation. Affirmative action, no matter what good it accomplishes, discriminates against Asian-Americans, which is enough in my book to be against it. Expanding rent control violates the rights of landlords. I don’t think it’s right to place burdens on landlords, many of whom are barely covering expenses, especially in poor neighborhoods where rent control already exists. I voted against Prop 22, which would have defined gig workers as employees, for the simple reason that a large majority of gig workers themselves didn’t want it; had the polls indicated otherwise, I would have voted for Prop 22. I also voted against eliminating money bail. Those in favor of the measure argued that cash bail discriminates against poor people, but if you’re poor and know that you won’t be able to afford cash bail, then maybe you should think twice about committing a crime. And I was strongly opposed to letting 17-year olds vote. Quite frankly, they’re not mature enough for such a grave responsibility.

When I examine my thinking in all these respects, it’s not “Republican” or “Democrat,” it’s common sense. Democrats sometimes veer too far to the left for my tastes. I guess it’s easy, if you’re a Democratic activist and you’re hanging out with your fellow believers, to lose track of what folks in Vallejo or Bakersfield or Redding or Long Beach or Placerville are thinking. The fact is, San Francisco, Oakland and the West Side of L.A. are not representative of Democrats in California. But sometimes, grass roots activists and “progressives” forget this. They think that their solutions are the only ones that will work. Maybe they’ll learn something from this election, in which they were so soundly beaten.

This brings up the topic of the “defund the police” slogan, which also proved so disastrous to Democrats around the country, as Barack Obama noted last week. Progressives were warned repeatedly to drop the slogan, which is easily the worst, dumbest political phrase in recent history. But the Antifa types in the streets won’t allow it to go away. Instead, they scrawl it on every wall, infuriating average citizens who trust and respect cops.

I don’t have to explain why each of these slogans is the epitome of irresponsibility. This, more than anything else, explains why Democrats lost a dozen seats in the House: voters reacted viscerally to the absurdity of such nonsense. How any Democrat or “progressive” could possibly think that such anarchist stupidity would win votes is beyond me.

The danger for California Democrats is, now that we’ll soon be rid of Trump, Dems will have to appeal to voters on the issues, and not just be the opposition to an insane, incompetent fool. This last election should prove to Democrats that California voters are not left-leaning, wild-eyed progressives, but normal, average, concerned citizens who love the ideals the Democratic Party stands for, but who are rather content with most things the way they are. They’re not looking for radical new ways of doing things, but for gradual, careful fixes. They just want to get through the pandemic, re-open the economy, be fair, and get on with their lives.

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