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5 Reasons Republicans Should See California As The ‘Ghost Of Christmas Yet To Come’

Memo Pad Politics

5 Reasons Republicans Should See California As The ‘Ghost Of Christmas Yet To Come’



How did California go from voting for George H.W. Bush in 1988 to a state where Republicans are now essentially a larger third party, in about 25 years?

There are two simple answers: Governor Pete Wilson, and demographics.

As Wilson sought re-election in 1994, he championed Proposition 187, also known as Save Our State (SOS). The ballot measure sought to ban all undocumented immigrants from accessing any public services funded by the state, and it passed overwhelmingly as the Republican governor was easily re-elected.

“Following Prop. 187 were additional anti-immigrant measures such as Prop. 209 and Prop. 227 that proposed to outlaw affirmative action and bilingual education,” notes Latino Decision’s Matt Barreto. These measures also passed.

California in the mid 1990s was beginning a demographic shift that’s an exaggerated version of what the entire nation is about to go through over the next few decades. Though that shift happened quickly, Republicans were still able to win the governorship twice after a freak recall gave them a chance to run international celebrity/moderate Arnold Schwarzenegger.

But in 2010, as the nation was experiencing the largest Republican wave election in more than a half-century, California went bright blue, possibly permanently.

Democratic governor Jerry Brown came into power with reforms that gave his party a chance to overwhelm the Republican minority obstruction that paralyzed the state legislature and helped build up a deficit of as high as $42 billion. Today, the budget is nearly balanced and possibly in surplus, depending on whose numbers you trust.

In one generation, “The Prop 187 Effect” transformed California’s politics:


Immigration reform was the one policy recommendation in the GOP’s “autopsy” of the 2012 election. It passed the Senate with about as large a bipartisan majority as you can expect these days.

But most observers are saying that immigration reform is now effectively dead — or on life support — after Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) announced on Wednesday, “We have no intention of ever going to conference on the Senate bill.” This follows reports that the House will not vote on reform this year because they don’t have time, even though the Senate bill passed in June.

As the Hispanic media is well aware, the only immigration bill that will have passed the House in 2013 is one that calls for millions of deportations.

House Republicans, like California’s Republicans in the 90s, know that taking a tough anti-immigrant stance in the short term won’t hurt them. In fact, it may even help them in the 2014 election, or at least avoid primary challenges.

But the long-term effects of punting on the best hope for immigration reform in decades could doom Republicans with the nation’s fastest-growing group of voters. Here’s five reasons why this should terrify the GOP.


  1. rbgintx November 14, 2013

    The Democrats have controlled the California State Senate since 1956 and the Assembly since 1996 so to lay the blame for state budget issues at the feet of Republicans is a bit of a stretch to me. Prop 187 was bad law that many said would be thrown out in court if it passed since the Supreme Court had already ruled on some items in the law, access to public education for example. The prop was losing ground in the polls prior to the election. That changed when Latino activists staged a huge demonstration for the prop just before election day and morning newspaper readers were greeted with front page photos of thousands of people in the street waving Mexican flags. Following the passage of the prop doing away with bilingual education, test scores started to show improvement at least in the district where I resided. While the state may have a balanced budget at the present time, their build in spending costs are going to continue to grow and eat up an ever larger part of the revenue stream. The city of Desert Hot Springs just announced they will seek bankruptcy protection due to unsupportable pension and salary plans. While California may be blue heaven as far as electing Democrats, it still has many economic issues with which to deal. California was ranked 48th among the states for business friendliness.

    1. Tom InBuffalo November 14, 2013

      Yet more of the big businesses arise in California than any state in the union – go figure.

  2. jointerjohn November 14, 2013

    They will have to move to the middle in order to survive, and they will. That will leave the Tea Party and the evangelicals abandoned, and I fear many of them will retreat to compounds and communes reminiscent of the Branch Davidians. I hope I am wrong about that. What we must not do is count them out too soon. The key to 2014 is young voters and we must motivate them at any cost. The 2016 Presidential Race will determine the SCOTUS for the next generation, and the right wing knows that too. They will come with every dirty trick, scare tactic, misinformation their billionaire buddies’ money can buy. They will nominate Governor Christie and portray him as the neatest thing since FDR in order to not lose the High Court.

    1. robertbenefiel@att.net November 14, 2013

      It is my political analysis, and I am a political junkie who has followed these things since the election of Ike is this: The Republican base will never accept Christie as their nomination. It will not happen unless the Republicans lose the house in 2014 and the Republicans change the way of the selection process. They will only do it if they are truly scared. I think they want one more go of it with a truly far right candidate, who that may be is the big question.

      1. pszymeczek November 14, 2013

        If Christie does manage to get the nomination, he will be forced to skew even further rightward, as Romney was.

        1. howa4x November 14, 2013

          I live in NJ and the media created the myth that Christie is a moderate. His record is no different than any conservative. He vetoed same sex marriage,(since overturned by the courts) dragged his feet setting up medical MJ dispensing facilities, refused to set up health care exchanges, vetoed his own gun bill, Defunded state donations to planned parenthood, closed state family planning centers announcing he is pro life. He vetoed the minimum wage bill(since passed overwhelmingly by voters in a state referendum). He is channeling more money to charter schools, he bashed the state unions, the only Bi partisan measures he passed were stated by his predecessor. The only reason he won so big is that the democratic party is cynical and corrupt and made a deal with him. They ran a sacrificial lamb and didn’t support her. Christie is a tea party candidate and will not have to move very far rightward

      2. jointerjohn November 14, 2013

        I sure hope you are correct and I am wrong. I have only been a political junkie since 1964.

  3. howa4x November 14, 2013

    It is not only what is happening with the Latino population that should trouble republicans. The young people reject their homophobic agenda and if you try to take contraception away from young women they will turn out to vote as they did in the Va race. Also young people are very concerned about climate change, since it will affect them more than a 60 yr old. They need relief from the staggering debt of higher ed and are tired of seeing good jobs shipped out of the country. They don’t like the work for less economy that the Koch bros are trying to create. More and more of them are secular and are tired of the evangelical influence in the republican rhetoric. They feel the republican war on women’s reproductive rights and amazingly want affordable healthcare. They distrust Wall st and the large banks. The Republican party offers no appeal to them. I know this I have 3 in their mid 20’s and hear what them and their friends talk about. This is not only in NJ but all over the country.
    If the republicans ratchet up the rhetoric about the privatization of social security and turning Medicare into a voucher program they may loose the senior vote. Seniors were frightened by the government shutdown and see the tea party as too extreme. If they leave with everyone else it will be lights out on the party.

  4. 4sanity4all November 14, 2013

    A lot of Republicans are under the (incorrect) impression that all Latinos are illegal, so they cannot legally vote. Some of them show that bias when they make statements like “they voted illegally, and that is how the Democrats won”. They do not realize, that millions of second and third generation Latinos are born to American citizens and they stay in this country where, you know, they are citizens. It is a mistake to think that having brown skin means you were born somewhere else. It is a mistake to think that holding back immigration reform will impact all of the Latinos in this country. Because they were born here, and they cannot be legally deported. That being said, most Latinos DO want immigration reform, because their friends and relatives are impacted by it, and it is a matter of fairness. Many non Latinos also want to see a fair law put into place, and enforced evenly. And everyone should keep in mind that our immigration laws apply to people of many ethnicities, from many lands. Like white people from European countries from which people have recently been allowed to emigrate. To all of these people, and their families and employers, immigration reform is a very important issue that Republicans keep failing to deal with.

  5. mandinka November 14, 2013

    CA is the poster child for how not to run a State. $200B in debt 8 cities in some state of foreclosure and a population that is ebbing

    1. uniquename72 November 15, 2013

      Reading is hard.

  6. James Bowen November 15, 2013

    It is not in the interests of the U.S. to maintain our current immigration levels, let alone give amnesty to illegal aliens and increase legal immigration. It is not ecologically or economically sustainable. It should also be noted that, officially, the GOP supports legalization of illegal aliens. That position is not popular among the GOP rank and file nor is it popular among the American public in general. Taking a strong stance for immigration enforcement and reduction is something that the American people would side with GOP politicians (and Democratic ones) on. Immigrants largely support Democrats for reasons other than immigration, and a mass legalization and immigration increase would only bring in more Democrat voters and seal the doom of the GOP. For the GOP to survive, immigration must be greatly reduced so that more immigrants can enter the middle class. Only then will the GOP be competitive among current immigrants.

    1. Charlie McKenna November 18, 2013

      You are truly delusional!.

      1. James Bowen November 18, 2013

        How so? Hispanics and immigrant populations vote Democrat because they tend to be poorer, whereas the GOP has a more middle class base (although the GOP doesn’t serve that base well at all). As for Hispanics, they share many of the same concerns about excessive immigration that other citizens do. Bottom line: Hispanics and immigrants tend to vote Democratic for reasons other than immigration, and granting legal status to illegals and increasing legal immigration would be suicide for the GOP to embrace. The GOP’s (and America’s) only hope is to drive out all illegals and reduce legal immigration to match emigration rates. As far as the American people at large are concerned, I recommend you go to compete.com and compare the web traffic of NumbersUSA to that of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and America’s Voice. It should then be pretty apparent that about the only Americans who back amnesty and increased immigration, outside of some naive progressives, are the big business interests that benefit from cheap labor.

  7. Socialism is Organized Evil November 18, 2013

    History’s lessons are crystal clear regarding the fact that many will have the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of success only in a culture that, as a whole, advances fairly rapidly.

  8. Thomas Aquinas November 20, 2013

    While our mind’s advance is part and parcel of the advance of our civilization, it is civilization’s condition at any point in time that largely determines the range of our choices and actions.


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