GOP Gains in California May Not Be as Implausible as Commonly Believed

CA GOP

Chairman Jim Brulte leads a meeting at the California Republican Party convention.

It almost qualifies as one of the more unexpected headlines in recent memory. “CAN THE CALIFORNIA REPUBLICAN PARTY BOUNCE BACK IN 2018?” asked the Los Angeles Times in late February. Who would expect the GOP ever to re-emerge in California? Yet that such a question was even asked by a member of the state’s single-party media is meaningful. Maybe something is stirring within this seemingly permanent minority.

A mere stir won’t be enough, though: the political equivalent of a Home Depot paint mixer will be required. The Golden State is the deepest blue of the 20 states that Hillary Clinton won: 62 percent of California voters cast their ballots for her, the highest percentage of any state. Using data from the IBD/TIPP poll, Investor’s Business Daily’s John Merline wrote in December that “if you take California out of the popular vote equation, then (Donald) Trump wins the rest of the country by 1.4 million votes. And if California voted like every other Democratic state — where Clinton averaged 53.5 percent wins — Clinton and Trump end up in a virtual popular vote tie.”

Not that this outcome was any great surprise. California has been a one-party state for what seems like a geologic era. The only chamber of the state Legislature that hasn’t been under Democratic Party control in the last four decades is the Senate. The GOP held it by a slim two seats in 1995–1996. The last time the Republicans held at least one chamber before that was in 1969–1970, when Ronald Reagan was governor and the GOP had two-seat majorities in both the Assembly and Senate. Since Reagan’s stint in Sacramento, there have been three Republican governors (and was Arnold Schwarzenegger truly a Republican?) and three Democratic governors (including Jerry Brown twice). Only six Republicans, one of them Schwarzenegger, have held statewide seats since 1998. Democrats have held 23.

It’s a similar story with California’s representation in Congress. The House of Representatives has been prime Democratic property since the late 1950s, with a 26-26 tie in the state’s congressional delegation in 1995–1996 being the only exception. Since then, the spread has increased steadily to reach 38 Democrats, 14 Republicans, and one vacant seat — that of Xavier Becerra, now the state’s attorney general — though some might say that the real attorney general is Eric Holder, the former Obama AG hired by the Legislature to lead the state’s Trump resistance. California has not sent a Republican to the Senate since Pete Wilson, having won the governorship, appointed John Seymour to serve the final two years (1991-1992) of his term in Washington.

Only 27.3 percent of California voters are registered as Republicans. That’s the smallest sliver for the GOP since 1980, the year of the Reagan revolution. Republicans have even lost San Bernardino County, a longtime GOP stronghold in California’s flyover country, with registered Democrats there now outnumbering Republicans.

Republicans deserve a healthy portion of the blame for their marginalization. In the early 2000s, they colluded with Democrats to redraw districts in a scheme that ensures that few seats are competitive and for the most part gives both parties perpetual possession of the seats they hold. This makes it nigh-on impossible for Republicans to unseat Democratic politicians.

And too often, Republicans are hard to distinguish from Democrats anyway. Stephen Frank, an editor for the California Political Review, complained a few years ago that the GOP establishment has “run candidates without serious ideology — except the desire to win election,” and recalled a 2013 legislative surrender in which Democrats got the votes they needed in Sacramento from the GOP to extend $2.3 billion a year in vehicle taxes. More recently, Frank said that if “you stand for nothing” as a party, “you’ll cease to exist.”

Democrats have the state sewn up not only through their safe districts but also through a constituent bloc that will vote them back into office again and again. Those on the lower end of the economic ladder tend to support Democrats and their redistributionist agenda. In 2014, Pew Research showed that 51 percent of Californians earning less than $30,000 a year are Democrats or lean toward the party (22 percent are Republicans/leans); 53 percent earning between $30,000 and $49,999 a year are Democrats/leans (30 percent are Republicans/leans). In return for their party loyalty, the poor Californians who vote Democratic are robbed of economic opportunities by Blue State public policy.

Those at the top also have a role in perpetuating Democratic power. Pew says that 49 percent of Californians earning more than $100,000 annually are Democrats or lean that way, while only 39 percent identify with the GOP. According to Political Data Inc., the gap closes somewhat for those earning more than $500,000 a year. But Democrats still hold a 38-33 edge there.

Given these facts, it’s baffling why anyone, even the most optimistic Republican operative, could imagine that the party might “bounce back” in California. The reason for many is simple: Donald Trump. These Republicans believe that they can emulate on the state level what Trump achieved nationally. One key to the GOP’s resurgence lies in between the economic extremes that support the Democrats and is primarily inland from the posh coastal districts. It’s a shrinking middle class at odds with the ruling party over water, climate, energy production, immigration, infrastructure priorities, housing, economic policies and the environment. Enough polarization exists to lead some to believe that the state needs to be split — not in two parts but in six.

Frank believes that the state’s minorities can also play a role if the Republican Party has the courage to show them how Democrats have “destroyed their hopes” and condemned them to “poverty and dependence.”

Some Democrats are considering the possibility that the Trump phenomena could carry over to California. “If we didn’t get a wake-up call from what happened in the rest of the country, then shame on us,” David Townsend, a Democratic strategist, told Los Angeles Times columnist George Skelton after the election. Skelton, no Republican apologist, acknowledged that Democrats have been “paying little attention to the middle class.”

So maybe there is an opening. As GOP consultant Ray McNally told Skelton, “power really does corrupt,” which could mean that the Democrats, with all their raw political muscle in California, are vulnerable to making the fatal mistakes that can happen when politicians believe they’ve become too powerful to pay for the consequences of their actions.

Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens asks Trump administration to help her hold undocumented immigrants

As reported by the Orange County Register:

With most California governments and police agencies resisting President Donald Trump’s push to increase immigration enforcement and deportations, Orange County Sheriff Sandra Hutchens is bucking the trend, telling the Trump administration she wants her department to cooperate more closely with federal immigration agents.

Last month, Hutchens met with several high ranking members of Trump’s administration in Washington, D.C., in part to communicate how her department, and possibly law enforcement in other large American counties, would be willing to impose federal immigration laws.

Her message: Neighborhood enforcement is off the table, but an enhanced immigration role in jails would be welcome.

Specifically, Hutchens – who was in D.C. in her role as president of the Major Counties Sheriff’s Association – asked the administration to provide a legal directive for her to detain some immigrants convicted of violent or other serious crimes beyond their set release dates so federal agents could retrieve and deport them. …

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California’s Latest War on Trump – Gas mileage standards: Jim Lacy discusses on Fox Business

Jim Lacy discusses California’s latest war on Donald Trump – gas mileage standards – and how it could result in two different kinds of cars being produced: One for Californians, and one for everyone else.

Also talked about: New proposed legislation would exempt California teachers from paying income tax.

NeverTrump’s Ant Flatulence in a Hurricane

Legend has it that President Franklin Roosevelt’s son James (soon to enlist in the Marines and serve with distinction) was in the White House on December 11, 1941 and one of the first to learn that Italy had declared war on the United States. He rushed to the Oval Office and breathlessly told his father that Italy had declared war. Without looking up from his paperwork FDR said, “Jimmy, have you ever heard an ant fart in a hurricane?”

The remark gives insight both to Roosevelt’s sense of humor and his judgment of Mussolini’s war-making prowess. FDR was proven correct, as Il Duce’s divisions were a pale imitation of the invincible legions of Julius or Augustus Caesar.

Roosevelt’s “ant flatulence” bon mot gained new relevance last year in the personas of NeverTrump. The leaders of the NeverTrump cabal were every bit as haughty and imperious as Mussolini. Il Duce was hung upside down and left to bleed to death by loyal Italians at the end of the war. Millions of conservative voters did the same to NeverTrump, first at the GOP convention and then on Election Day.

Trump adultThe political prognostication powers of NeverTrump grandees like Billy Kristol, Bow Tie Will and former President-Designate David French turned out to be equivalent to the battle readiness of the Italian army, with all the effect of ant flatulence in a hurricane. Rational conservatives assumed that a group of people so wrong so often about so many things would do the honorable thing and slink away in silence under the cover of darkness. No such luck with the smug and pompous elephantine egos of NeverTrump. They continue to spout their nonsense as if the election never happened and their total disconnect from reality never exposed.

How wrong were they? Let us count the ways.

NeverTrump charged that Donald Trump had duped conservatives supporting him and if nominated would veer sharply toward the center in the choice of running mate. The actual result was Trump choosing Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, widely regarded as the most conservative governor in the country.

NeverTrump charged that the GOP nominee Trump would be routed by Hillary Clinton, losing in an historic landslide. The actual result was Trump destroying the Democrats’ Midwest “blue wall,” carrying states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan that hadn’t voted for a Republican presidential candidate since the 1980s. Trump received more electoral votes than any GOP candidate since H.W. Bush in 1988.

NeverTrump warned that GOP nominee Trump, losing in a landslide to Hillary, would most certainly cost Republicans control of the U.S. Senate. The actual result was continued GOP control of the Senate, with Trump aiding the come-from-behind victories of endangered Republican incumbents like Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania and Ron Walker in Wisconsin.

NeverTrump assured us that not only would the Clinton landslide win over Trump cost the GOP the Senate, but that the loss would be so big as to endanger the GOP majority in the House. The actual result was a miniscule Republican loss of 6 seats out of a GOP total of 247, when even the most optimistic GOP forecasters were predicting a 12-15 seat loss to the Democrats.

In the immortal words of Ron Popeil, “But wait, there’s more!”

NeverTrump warned conservatives that the Clinton victory margin over Trump would be gigantic enough to wipe out state and local office holders by the hundreds, decimating our “bench” for future elections. The actual result was a Republican tsunami at the local level, winning state, county and municipal districts that had been solidly Democrat for decades. The day after the November election the Republican Party was stronger nationally than at any time since 1920. (For UCLA graduates that’s almost 100 years ago.)

NeverTrump assured us that Trump’s list of conservative candidates for the Scalia Supreme Court seat put together by the impeccably conservative Heritage Foundation and Federalist Society was a sham. They insisted that Trump had no intention of naming someone from that list and that conservatives were fools to believe that he would. The actual result was highly respected conservative Neil Gorsuch being nominated to the court. Doubts about Judge Gorsuch’s future impact on the court can be dispelled by Googling the reaction of any Democrat Senator to the nomination.

NeverTrump has been wrong about everything – quite literally, everything. Not wrong by a little, but by 180 degrees. There were no near-misses in the NeverTrump rants. As the old saying goes, they missed by a country mile.

There is a happy ending to this morality tale, however, and that is the isolation and irrelevance of NeverTrump. The worker bees of the conservative movement, the folks in fly-over country, took a good look at the NeverTrump leaders and realized that these ever-so-pious and pure guardians of “acceptable” conservative thought were empty suits. Other than bloated salaries and Sunday morning talk-show gigs they produced little of substance the last 20 years.

Instead of political and policy victories these “leaders” delivered hot air, pomposity and arrogance. Without knowing it the grass roots are channeling Senator Everett Dirkson, who shouted at Tom Dewey from the podium of the 1952 Republican Convention, “We have followed you before and you lead us down the road to defeat.”

No more. NeverTrump is taking its rightful place on the ash heap of history. The White House is the epicenter of an historic earthquake of conservative ideas and policy. Conservatives will surely find things to quibble with in President Trump, and when we do we should say so. In the meantime we owe it to our country and our movement to support the most conservative White House since the Reagan days, and more likely since the Coolidge days.

NeverTrump will no doubt continue on for awhile, full of sound and fury signifying nothing, emitting its occasional ant flatulence. Meantime, in the real world, conservatives across the country are rolling up their sleeves and getting to work making America, and the conservative movement, great again.

Bill Saracino is a member of the Editorial Board of CA Political Review.

A Big Week for the Stupid and the Ugly

There’s an old saying that Hollywood is Washington, D.C., for stupid people and Washington, D.C.,  is Hollywood for ugly people. The truth of that adage was on full display last week, first with the Academy Awards and then with the Democrat reaction to President Trump’s speech to a joint session of Congress.

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First up were the stupid, with Hollywood’s annual orgy of self-love and awards for movies nobody wants to see. Best picture winner “Moonlight” earned a place on the Oscar honor roll, but like so much of modern Hollywood is there because of its political message not its quality. “La La Land” was favored to win as it is the stereotype of films Hollywood likes – those that glorify Hollywood and make it look noble.

Sadly for “La La” boosters it was in competition with the one genre that trumps (pun intended) Hollywood egomania – political correctness – in a movie about a young black homosexual. Had the producers of “Moonlight” added being a one legged, illegal immigrant hunchback to the character the movie might have been a unanimous choice for best picture.

As it is, “Moonlight” will get a brief box-office bump and then disappear like so many of its predecessors. Doubt me?  Quick – what is the name of last year’s best picture winner? No fair Googling. It was “Spotlight.” How bout 2014’s winner? It was “Birdman,” which at least had the virtue of a subtitle exquisitely appropriate for the Hollywood glitterati, “The unexpected virtue of ignorance.”

All this folds in nicely with Hollywood’s contempt for average Americans as evidenced by their deranged hatred of President Trump. While there were no Meryl Streep-ish long-winded “Trump is either Hitler’s grandson or Satan’s spawn” diatribes, you weren’t really an A-lister if you didn’t include some anti-Trump snark in your remarks. The basket of deplorables has taken notice however, and it is extracting its revenge where it will hurt most, at the box office. Ticket sales slumped last year for the third year in a row and the seventh out of the last 10. This year’s Oscar ceremony was the third least-watched in the last 20 years.

Anyone familiar with Ronald Reagan’s movie career knows that the anti-American left has deep roots in the entertainment industry. Reagan himself credited his strong anti-Communism with his experience of watching the Reds operate in Hollywood. A vignette on this even closer to home involves my father, who in the mid-1930s was endeavoring to become a music editor at MGM. A prerequisite for that position was membership in the craft union, International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. He was told by his immediate superior that he would have his IATSE card the day after he showed his membership card in the Communist Part USA. My father went around his boss, who soon after found himself exiled from the MGM lot, very likely thanks to the personal intervention of L.B. Mayer or Irving Thalberg, both strong conservatives. My father became a successful music editor and for 15 years or so an Academy member. He had no interest in attending the actual ceremony, commenting that “the only thing emptier than the words on the stage are the heads in the audience.” True that. Hollywood the stupid has hated America for a long time.

Two days after the stupid had their moment in the sun, the ugly took center stage for President Trump’s speech to a joint session of Congress. In what must fairly be ranked as one of the 10 best speeches ever given from that podium, President Trump hit a grand slam home run. Every network’s polling after the speech showed majorities between 65 percent and 75 percent approving of the speech.

What equally large majorities most definitely did not approve of was the open disrespect shown Carryn Owens, the widow of Navy Seal Ryan Owens or the white-out stunt of female Democrats. It was ugly. Prominent Democrats including Elizabeth Warren, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Keith Ellison apparently think that refusing to stand and applaud the recently widowed wife of a Navy Seal is the path back to relevance for Middle America. If ignorance is bliss these folks must be ecstatic.

Providing unintended humor was the all-white attire of several dozen women Democrats. When I first noticed the bloc on television I assumed a convention of ice cream salespeople had been let into the House Chamber. After a close-up of Nancy Pelosi it became clear that it was the winners division of the Nurse Ratched look-a-like contest.

Disrespecting the widow of a military hero, having the girls play “dress-up,” refusing the shake the president’s hand, etc. showed the Democrats in D.C. can one-up their soulmates in Hollywood. They can be both ugly and stupid.

These antics can be infuriating but should not be discouraging or frustrating. Every day the ugly and stupid don’t wise up is another day of alienating average Americans and another day toward success for President Trump and the Republicans. So keep this under your hats.

Bill Saracino is a member of the Editorial Board of CA Political Review.

California’s Bullet Train Could Be a High-Speed Fail Without Federal Funding

As reported by L.A. Weekly:

Two weeks ago, President Donald Trump made what might be considered his first real move to screw over California, by delaying a $637 million grant, long thought to have been a lock, to pay for electrifying a Bay Area train route. That’s bad news for Caltrain, which will have to stick to diesel gas for the time being. But it’s also bad news for California Gov. Jerry Brown’s pet project, the bullet train, which plans to share that section of track. The delay has been interpreted, by some, to be an act of political retribution, to get back at California for, oh, take your pick — not voting for Trump, for having so many “sanctuary cities,” for declaring itself the vanguard of the resistance, and so on.

Lisa Marie Alley, a spokeswoman for the California High Speed Rail Authority, downplayed the significance of the grant delay.

“I would not characterize it as a big blow whatsoever,” she said. “It’s something that is not good. The bigger question is, to the Republican administration, why would you hurt something that is creating jobs, creating a system that’s better for the environment and providing a valuable service for the Bay Area?”

The worrying thing for supporters of the bullet train, which aims to connect San Francisco and Los Angeles by the year 2029 for the not-so-low price of $68 billion (and that estimate is probably low), is if the Trump administration is willing to delay a fairly uncontroversial grant, can the nation’s largest infrastructure project currently under construction expect any help at all …

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5 ways Donald Trump could block legal marijuana in California

Buds are removed from a container at the "Oregon's Finest" medical marijuana dispensary in Portland, Oregon April 8, 2014. Over 20 Oregon cities and counties are moving to temporarily ban medical marijuana dispensaries ahead of a May deadline, reflecting a divide between liberal Portland and more conservative rural areas wary about allowing medical weed. Portland, Oregon's largest city, already has a number of medical marijuana clinics and has not moved to ban them. Picture taken April 8, 2014. REUTERS/Steve Dipaola (UNITED STATES - Tags: DRUGS SOCIETY POLITICS HEALTH) - RTR3KMHE

The Trump administration has made clear that it will not look the other way when it comes to de facto state legalization of marijuana, as the Obama administration did. Instead, White House press secretary Sean Spicer last week said the states that have approved the use of recreational pot – California is one of eight – would face a reckoning because marijuana use remains a federal crime under the Controlled Substances Act.

State Democrats immediately denounced the possibility of a federal crackdown and took a defiant tone, starting with Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a key sponsor of Proposition 64, the ballot measure approved with 56 percent support in November that sets up the framework for legal pot sales and use beginning Jan. 1, 2018. Newsom released a letter that called Spicer “grossly uninformed” for saying legal pot could make the opioid epidemic worse and warned that a federal intervention would help “drug cartels and criminals” by keeping the sale of marijuana a black-market, illegal practice.

Xavier Becerra, recently installed as state attorney general, also vowed in a statement that he would “protect the interests of California” from federal intrusion.

A Los Angeles Times report quoted attorneys as saying California could argue that it has a legal right to control drug rules within its borders.

Constitution gives federal government final say

But legal websites and U.S. history suggest that a federal government that is determined to enforce federal laws would be a very difficult obstacle for a state to overcome.

“The Supremacy Clause is a clause within Article VI of the U.S. Constitution which dictates that federal law is the ‘supreme law of the land,’” the FindLaw website notes. “This means that judges in every state must follow the Constitution, laws and treatises of the federal government in matters which are directly or indirectly within the government’s control. Under the doctrine of preemption, which is based on the Supremacy Clause, federal law preempts state law, even when the laws conflict.”

A federal crackdown could come in several forms:

  1. Drug Enforcement Administration agents could stage raids on pot farms and dispensaries, as they did memorably in 2012 at Oakland’s massive Oaksterdam medical pot outlet. U.S. marshals and IRS agents joined in the raid.
  2. Federal authorities could warn property owners that their land and buildings would be seized unless they evict pot farmers or dispensaries.
  3. The federal government can compel cooperation through a lawsuit. An Associated Press analysis noted that this is what happened in 2010, when a federal suit forced Arizona to scrap an immigration law that the Justice Department said trampled on federal authority.
  4. The federal courts can also compel action, such as what happened last year in Kentucky, when a county clerk who objected to issuing licenses for same-sex marriage was overruled.
  5. The Treasury, Justice and Homeland Security Departments can all use existing laws to hammer banks and credit unions that accept deposits that can be linked in any way to marijuana-generated funds or if they provide any services to dispensaries. “Financial institutions face significant risk for violating federal law if they offer banking services to marijuana-related businesses,” an American Bankers Association web page warns. “The federal statutory barriers include the Controlled Substance Act, USA Patriot Act, Bank Secrecy Act, Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and other federal statutes.” The RICO law in particular gives law enforcement wide latitude to classify activities that may seem in a gray area as illegal, which is why it’s long been a target of advocates of legal reform.

These five ways the Trump administration could crack down on a state attempting to legalize recreational drug use are only the short list. In an era in which sweeping executive orders have become the norm, Attorney General Jeff Sessions – an ardent foe of legal pot – could ask President Trump to withhold federal funds for law enforcement or health programs from defiant states.

While Spicer was emphatic about a new federal approach to state marijuana laws, he offered no timetables for action. Sessions has so far focused on other issues in his first weeks at the Justice Department.

This piece was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

In Speech to Congress, Donald Trump Calls to ‘Restart the Engine’ of U.S. Economy

US Vice President Mike Pence (L) and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R) applaud as US President Donald J. Trump (C) arrives to deliver his first address to a joint session of Congress from the floor of the House of Representatives in Washington, DC, USA, 28 February 2017. / AFP / POOL / JIM LO SCALZO (Photo credit should read JIM LO SCALZO/AFP/Getty Images)

As reported by Fox News:

President Trump declared Tuesday that a “new chapter of American greatness is now beginning” as he made economic revival the centerpiece of his first address to Congress – issuing a clarion call to “restart the engine of the American economy” through tax cuts, better trade deals, immigration enforcement and a $1 trillion infrastructure program.

He also called on Congress to replace what he called the “imploding ObamaCare disaster” with legislation that lowers costs and expands access, an ambitious goal for GOP lawmakers still trying to come together on a plan.

The president outlined his agenda in an address to a joint session of Congress that lasted roughly an hour and focused largely on priorities at home, more than abroad. He offered a decidedly upbeat vision for the future of the country that stood in contrast to his at-times foreboding inauguration address.

“Everything that is broken in our country can be fixed. Every problem can be solved. And every hurting family can find healing, and hope,” Trump said, urging lawmakers to “join forces” to deliver.

Trump for the most part traded the contentious and punchy tone of the last few weeks for loftier – some might say more presidential – rhetoric. Declaring “the time for small thinking is over,” Trump appealed to the country to “believe, once more, in America.”

“A new chapter of American greatness is now beginning. A new national pride is sweeping across our nation,” he said. “And a new surge of optimism is placing impossible dreams firmly within our grasp.”

He described his address as a “message of unity and strength.”

The generally well-received speech could mark an opportunity for Trump to reset his young presidency after a rocky start in which clashes with the media and staffing controversies at times overshadowed action on the jobs front.

In perhaps the most memorable moment of the night, the audience broke out into extended applause as Trump introduced the widow of William “Ryan” Owens, the Navy SEAL killed in a raid in Yemen last month. Carryn Owens sobbed as lawmakers gave her a standing ovation and Trump said the raid he participated in yielded vital intelligence. His “legacy is etched into eternity,” Trump said.

In between the more dramatic moments were a host of policy prescriptions that could have a big impact on discussions in Congress.

Trump called for a “national rebuilding,” urging Congress to pass legislation that produces a $1 trillion public-private investment in infrastructure. …

Speaking to a key campaign promise that has yet to be realized, he said his team is developing “historic tax reform that will reduce the tax rate on our companies so they can compete and thrive anywhere and with anyone.” He vowed a “big, big cut” including “massive tax relief for the middle class.”

And he urged Congress to replace ObamaCare “with reforms that expand choice, increase access, lower costs, and at the same time, provide better health care.”

He outlined “principles” to guide negotiations, including …

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California GOP moves to align with Donald Trump policies

As reported by the Sacramento Bee:

The California Republican Party moved Sunday into greater alignment with President Donald Trump, approving resolutions opposing sanctuary cities, advocating robust vetting of citizens from seven Muslim-majority nations and supporting a swift repeal of the federal healthcare overhaul.

Delegates to the state party, meeting in Sacramento for their annual spring convention, also voted to reaffirm their aversion for tax and fee increases proposed as part of the state’s 2017-18 budget.

The resolutions, drafted with the help of longtime conservative activist Steve Frank, come as Republicans labor to identify common ground with Trump as some of their officials continue to distance themselves from his more controversial stances and statements.

All four proposals were adopted with no discussion.

The move represents a departure of sorts for a party that has tried to grow its shrinking ranks by adopting a more inclusive tone. …

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Boycott the Oscars? Why Not Boycott Everything!?

oscarsThe focus of the political world will be on California Sunday when several political speeches are bound to take over the Oscars. According to one account, the Oscars broadcast, which lost viewers last year, could rebound over the expectation of hearing these political speeches. Or there could be a boycott of the broadcast in anticipation of speeches blasting President Donald Trump.

That would be in line with the current political strategy that seems to be capturing activists of all political stripes in this divided country: Boycott everything!

When Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank praised Trump’s business agenda, social media exploded with a hashtag to boycott the company.

With Elon Musk agreeing to serve on Trump’s business advisory committee, customers reportedly canceled auto orders.

Boycott campaigns were aimed at retailers such as New Balance, Macy’s and L.L. Bean because company officials said kind words about Trump’s business or trade policies.

Of course, there was the blowup over Nordstrom’s dumping Ivanka Trump’s fashion line which saw counter campaigns to either support or boycott Nordstrom’s over its decision.

The boycott strategy could also find itself in state law if Senator Ricardo Lara gets his way. Lara’s Senate Bill 30 would prohibit the state government from doing business with any individual or organization that assists in construction of a federal border wall along the California-Mexico border. Consider this a state sanctioned boycott.

I’ve tackled the issue of boycott before: In the free speech universe, boycotts themselves are a form of free speech, an individual expressing an opinion by choosing not to buy (or the obverse — to buy to support a business’ decision). On the other hand, boycotts can have a chilling effect on free speech by discouraging expression by business owners and others.

Of course, California business is not unfamiliar with boycotts. The boycott against grape growers organized by the United Farm Workers is well remembered. More recently, some Southern Baptists organized a boycott against Disney.

Boycotts to make political points have been encouraged by Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi and President Jimmy Carter during the 1980 Moscow Olympics. A petition signed by supposedly 700,000 people called for a boycott against Target stores after the retailer announced transgender people are welcome to use the restrooms that they identify with the most.

What if all these boycotts were successful beyond the imaginings of their supporters? Some businesses would be shut down. Some voices would lack an audience.

But a major goal of boycotts is shut off debate and that is a dangerous thing. Our great civic divide would deepen because people are not talking to each other.

I still believe in the marketplace of ideas. Discerning good ideas from bad takes debate and discussion. Cutting off and threatening to cut off people or institutions that want to voice their opinion ill serves democracy.

ditor of Fox & Hounds and President of the Small Business Action Committee.

This piece was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily