The Hollowing-Out of the California Dream

Tent of homeless person on 6th Street Bridge with Los Angeles skyline in the background. California, USA. (Photo By: Education Images/UIG via Getty Images)

Progressives praise California as the harbinger of the political future, the home of a new, enlightened, multicultural America. Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill has identified California Senator Kamala Harris as the party leader on issues of immigration and race. Harris wants a moratorium on construction of new immigration-detention facilities in favor of the old “catch and release” policy for illegal aliens, and has urged a shutdown of the government rather than compromise on mass amnesty.

Its political leaders and a credulous national media present California as the “woke” state, creating an economically just, post-racial reality. Yet in terms of opportunity, California is evolving into something more like apartheid South Africa or the pre-civil rights South. California simply does not measure up in delivering educational attainment, income growth, homeownership, and social mobility for traditionally disadvantaged minorities. All this bodes ill for a state already three-fifths non-white and trending further in that direction in the years ahead. In the past decade, the state has added 1.8 million Latinos, who will account by 2060 for almost half the state’s population. The black population has plateaued, while the number of white Californians is down some 700,000 over the past decade.

Minorities and immigrants have brought much entrepreneurial energy and a powerful work ethic to California. Yet, to a remarkable extent, their efforts have reaped only meager returns during California’s recent boom. California, suggests gubernatorial candidate and environmental activist Michael Shellenberger, is not “the most progressive state” but “the most racist” one. Chapman University reports that 28 percent of California’s blacks are impoverished, compared with 22 percent nationally. Fully one-third of California Latinos—now the state’s largest ethnic group—live in poverty, compared with 21 percent outside the state. Half of Latino households earn under $50,000 annually, which, in a high-cost state, means that they barely make enough to make ends meet. Over two-thirds of non-citizen Latinos, the group most loudly defended by the state’s progressive leadership, live at or below the poverty line, according to a recent United Way study.

This stagnation reflects the reality of the most recent California “miracle.” Historically, economic growth extended throughout the state, and produced many high-paying blue-collar jobs. In contrast, the post-2010 boom has been inordinately dependent on the high valuations of a handful of tech firms and coastal real estate speculation. Relatively few blacks or Latinos participate at the upper reaches of the tech economy—and a recent study suggests that their percentages in that sector are declining—and generally lack the family resources to compete in the real estate market. Instead, many are stuck with rents they can’t afford.

Even as incomes soared in the Silicon Valley and San Francisco after 2010, wages for African-Americans and Latinos in the Bay Area declined. The shift of employment from industrial to software industries, as well as the extraordinary presence—as much as 40 percent—of noncitizens in the tech industry, has meant fewer opportunities for assemblers and other blue-collar workers. Many nonwhite Americans labor in the service sector as security guards or janitors, making about $25,000 annually, working for contractors who offer no job security and only limited benefits. In high-priced Silicon Valley, these are essentially poverty wages. Some workers live in their cars, converted garages, or even on the streets, largely ignored by California’s famously enlightened oligarchs.

CityLab has described the Bay Area as “a region of segregated innovation.” TheGiving Code, which reports on charitable trends among the ultra-rich, found that between 2006 and 2013, 93 percent of all private foundation-giving in Silicon Valley went to causes outside of Silicon Valley. Better to be a whale, or a distressed child in Africa or Central America, than a worker living in his car outside Google headquarters.

For generations, California’s racial minorities, like their Caucasian counterparts, embraced the notion of an American Dream that included owning a house. Unlike kids from wealthy families—primarily white—who can afford elite educations and can sometimes purchase  houses with parental help, Latinos and blacks, usually without much in the way of family resources,  are increasingly priced out of the market. In California, Hispanics and blacks face housing prices that are approximately twice the national average, relative to income. Unsurprisingly, African-American and Hispanic homeownership rates have dropped considerably more than those of Asians and whites—four times the rate in the rest of the country. California’s white homeownership rate remains above 62 percent, but just 42 percent of all Latino households, and only 33 percent of all black households, own their own homes.

In contrast, African-Americans do far better, in terms of income and homeownership, in places like Dallas-Fort Worth or greater Houston than in socially enlightened locales such as Los Angeles or San Francisco. Houston and Dallas boast black homeownership rates of 40 to 50 percent; in deep blue but much costlier Los Angeles and New York, the rate is about 10 percentage points lower.

Rather than achieving upward class mobility, many minorities in California have fallen down the class ladder. This can be seen in California’s overcrowding rate, the nation’s second-worst. Of the 331 zip codes making up the top 1 percent of overcrowded zip codes in the U.S., 134 are found in Southern California, primarily in greater Los Angeles and San Diego, mostly concentrated around heavily Latino areas such as Pico-Union, East Los Angeles, and Santa Ana, in Orange County.

The lack of affordable housing and the disappearance of upward mobility could create a toxic racial environment for California. By the 2030s, large swaths of the state, particularly along the coast, could evolve into a geriatric belt, with an affluent, older boomer population served by a largely minority service-worker class. As white and Asian boomers age, California increasingly will have to depend on children from mainly poorer families with fewer educational resources, living in crowded and even unsanitary conditions, often far from their place of employment,  to work for low wages.

Historically, education has been the lever that gives minorities and the poor access to opportunity. But in California, a state that often identifies itself as “smart,” the educational system is deeply flawed, especially for minority populations. Once a model of educational success, California now ranks 36th in the country in educational performance, according to a 2018 Education Weekreport. The state does have a strong sector of “gold and silver” public schools, mostly located in wealthy suburban locations such as Orange County, the interior East Bay, and across the San Francisco Peninsula. But the performance of schools in heavily minority, working-class areas is scandalously poor. The state’s powerful teachers’ union and the Democratic legislature have added $31.2 billion since 2013 in new school funding, but California’s poor students ranked 49th on National Assessment of Education Progress tests. In Silicon Valley, half of local public school students, and barely one in five blacks or Latinos, are proficient in basic math.

Clearly, California’s progressive ideology and spending priorities are not serving minority students well. High-poverty schools are so poorly run that disruptions from students and administrative interruptions, according to a UCLA study, account for 30 minutes a day of class time. Teachers in these schools often promote “progressive values,” spending much of their time, according to one writer, “discussing community problems and societal inequities.” Other priorities include transgender and other gender-relatededucation, from which parents, in some school districts, cannot opt out. This ideological instruction is doing little for minority youngsters. San Francisco, which the nonprofit journalism site Calmatters refers to as “a progressive enclave and beacon for technological innovation,” also had “the lowest black student achievement of any county in California,” as well as the highest gap between black and white scores.

Ultimately, any reversal of this pattern must come from minorities demanding a restoration of opportunity. Some now see the linkage between state policy and impoverishment, which has led some 200 civil rights leaders to sue the state Air Resources Board, the group that enforces the Greenhouse Gas edicts of the state bureaucracy. But perhaps the ultimate wakeup call will come from a slowing economy. After an extraordinary period of growth post-recession, California’s economy is clearly weakening, as companies and people move elsewhere. Texas and other states are now experiencing faster GDP growth than the Golden State. Perhaps more telling, the latest BEA numbers suggest that California—which created barely 800 jobs last month—is now experiencing far lower income growth than the national average, and scarcely half that of Texas, Colorado, Michigan, Arizona, Missouri, or Florida. Out-migration of skilled and younger workers, reacting to long commutes and high prices, seems to be accelerating, both in Southern California and the Bay Area.

One has to wonder what will happen when the California economy, burdened by regulations, high costs, and taxes, slows even more. Generous welfare benefits, made possible by taxing the rich, could be threatened; conversely, the Left might get traction by pushing to raise taxes even higher. The pain will be relatively minor in Palo Alto, Malibu, or Marin County, the habitations of the ruling gentry rich—but for those Californians who have already been left behind, and for a diminishing middle class,  it might be just beginning.

America Is Not a Nation of Immigrants

Statue of LibertyAmerica is a nation of immigrants. It’s a commonplace among the political class. Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), emergent leaders in the open-borders vanguard of the Democratic Party, never tire of saying so. Both object to the Trump Administration’s hard line on border control and have buttressed their calls for an “immigration reform” that would in effect re-open the floodgates of migrants from south of the border. The reason, they say, is that immigration is the defining characteristic of the nation.

It isn’t.

The “nation of immigrants” trope is relatively new in American history, appearing not until the late 19th century. Its first appearance in print was most likely The Daily State Journal of Alexandria, Virginia, in 1874. In praising a state bill that encouraged European immigration, the editors wrote: “We are a nation of immigrants and immigrants’ children.” In 1938, Franklin Delano Roosevelt said to the Daughters of the American Revolution: “Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.” John F. Kennedy would later use the term as the title of a book, written as part of an Anti-Defamation League series, so it is undoubtedly objective, quality scholarship.

But in 1874, as in 1938, and even in 1958 when JFK’s book was written, America was not a nation of immigrants. The women Roosevelt was addressing were not the daughters of immigrants but rather the descendants of settlers—those Americans who founded the society that immigrants in 1874 came to be a part of.

Curiously, yet another Kennedy understood this and might have a thing or two to say in protest against the “nation of immigrants” myth, even if he didn’t quite mean what he said.

During the U.S. Senate debate of the 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act, Ted Kennedy, young Joe’s great-uncle, promised: “our cities will not be flooded with a million immigrants annually.” Today, with far more than a million new arrivals per year, it seems Ted’s words did not age well.

The liberal lion also promised that “the ethnic mix of this country will not be upset,” and America would not be flooded “with immigrants from any one country or area.” Yet in 2014, the number of Latinos in California finally overtook the number of whites. This, too, did not age well.

“The bill will not flood our cities with immigrants. It will not upset the ethnic mix of our society. It will not relax the standards of admission. It will not cause American workers to lose their jobs,” Kennedy assured his colleagues and fellow citizens. He was disingenuous at best. None of it worked out the way Kennedy promised in 1965.

The Emma Lazarus Myth
All of this is not presented simply to take a jab at young Joe, who is simply parroting the liberal line of the moment, but to highlight certain implicit truths—now disregarded by the progeny—in the assurances of his forebear.

If America has always been a nation of immigrants, why then did Ted Kennedy and others feel the need to reassure Americans that this nation would not be inundated by foreigners? This suggests that America was not, in fact, a nation of immigrants in the 1960s, and politicians aware of this spoke in this way to reassure a public equally aware of it and certainly unwilling to see America become a nation of immigrants.

Similarly, implicit in Ted Kennedy’s rhetoric is some recognition of the fact that mass immigration has the potential to change the country in ways that citizens might not like—such as by driving down wages and hurting native workers. Joe Kennedy, however, has suggested immigration is always a net good. Which Kennedy do we believe? (“Neither” is a perfectly acceptable answer.)

Then there is Kamala Harris. The freshman senator from California took the Independence Day holiday as an opportunity to claim the Declaration of Independence was signed by “immigrants” and performed the obligatory shout out to Emma Lazarus, who many liberal politicians believe wrote our immigration laws. Although Lazarus’ poem was added to the Statue of Liberty nearly two decades after the structure was dedicated, her belated verses became, at least to the Left, of more importance than the statue itself and the nation for which it stands. The idea of immigrants as all helpless “huddled masses” and “wretched refuse,” as Lazarus conceived, plays to the Left’s patronizing narrative of foreigners and citizen-subjects alike. But the problem with this conception of America’s immigrants, the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.) argued, is it’s a myth—and a bad one, at that.

“The 20 million-odd immigrants who arrived between 1870 and 1910,” said Moynihan, “were not the wretched refuse of anybody’s shores.” Rather, the fiery New York liberal concluded, they were an “extraordinary, enterprising and self-sufficient folk who knew exactly what they were doing and doing it quite on their own, thank you very much.”

Moynihan was right. America’s early immigrants were, with some exceptions (such as the Irish fleeing famine), Jewish tailors, Italian masons, German shopkeepers, skilled craftsmen, and artisans. It was not uncommon for these immigrants to make their fortunes in America and remigrate, either because they had never intended to stay or were induced by hardship. Those who stayed did so because they truly wanted to be American.

Lawbreaking Carries Huge Costs
To say that most of today’s immigrants do not have the qualities Moynihan adumbrated is not racist but rather an objective statement of facts, especially when 51 percent of households headed by an immigrant—legal or illegal—use at least one welfare program per year, compared to 30 percent of native households. Immigrants from Central America and Mexico, the bulk of today’s arrivals, have the highest rate of welfare use. Accordingly, the Left has shifted its politics to dangle a generous welfare-state before immigrants and illegal aliens.

Indeed, in 2017 the combined cost of education, medical, justice, and welfare expenditures attributed to illegal aliens alone amounted to $116 billion—up from $113 billion in 2013. That figure accounts for total taxes paid by illegal aliens. Moreover, it’s worth noting that amnesty for illegals would only exacerbate this problem, because amnesty would make available to them more forms of means-tested welfare benefits, and in turn increase the fiscal drain on American taxpayers.

While exceptional immigrants certainly still do arrive in the United States, progressive policy in the form of a generous welfare state has made it so immigrants no longer need to have the qualities of which Moynihan spoke.

But were America’s Founders immigrants, as Harris claims? Perhaps the simplest answer is found in the evolution of the English language in America. The term “immigrant,” Samuel P. Huntington informs us, did not come into usage in America until the 1780s—to distinguish new arrivals from the founding settlers.

Prior to the American Revolution, the English and the Dutch, according to historian John Higham, “conceived of themselves as founders, settlers, or planters—the formative population of those colonial societies—not as immigrants. Theirs was the polity, the language, the pattern of work and settlement, and many of the mental habits to which the immigrants would have to adjust.” If the Founders were immigrants, as some have mendaciously claimed, it would have been a tremendous surprise to them, because they certainly did not conceive of themselves as such.

By 1790, the population of the United States was 4 million. With the exception of a black minority and Indians, America was 60 percent ethnically English, 80 percent British—with Germans and the Dutch making up the remainder—and 98 percent Protestant. In 1797, John Jay noted specific attributes of American identity. In doing so, Jay did not simply adumbrate what “makes an American,” but made a distinction between settlers and immigrants. These are language (English), manners and customs (Anglo-Protestant), religion (Christianity), principles of government (British).

“We must,” Jay said of newcomers, “see our people more Americanized.”

Drawing from Huntington’s exhaustive demographic research, we find that while European wars kept immigration to a crawl, the overall American population increased by 35 percent between 1790 and 1800, 36 percent between 1800 and 1810, and 82 percent between 1800 and 1820. Huntington attributes the population explosion to high birth rates and fertility rates among the native-born population.

What Immigration Numbers Really Mean
Although it should be clear by now, the Left will never admit their claim of America as an historically multicultural-immigrant society is unsupportable, because that would damage their devil’s bargain with identity politics.

Concerning immigration patterns, from 1820 through 1924, 34 million new arrivals entered the United States, mostly from Europe. Throughout this period, intermittent waves of immigration were punctuated by pauses and lulls. These respites provided immigrants time to Americanize. By contrast, from 1965 through 2000, 24 million new arrivals entered the United States, mostly from Latin America and Asia, and with few if any pauses between waves. In just 35 years, America experienced nearly as much immigration as it did over a century. Nevertheless, from 1820 through 2000, the foreign-born averaged just over 10 percent of the total American population.

To claim that America is a “nation of immigrants” is to stretch a truth—that America historically has experienced intermittent waves of immigration—into a total falsehood, that America is a nation of immigrants. For the truth of the first thing to equal the truth of the other, every nation that experiences immigration may just as well be considered a “nation of immigrants.” Germans have lived along the Rhine since before Christ, yet Germany has also been swarmed by foreigners from the Middle East and North Africa. Is Germany, therefore, a nation of immigrants? A resounding nein is the answer we are hearing from Germans.

The Right Way to Live
Before America was a nation, it had to be settled and founded. As Michael Anton reiterated in response to New York Times columnist Bret Stephens: America is a nation of settlers, not a nation of immigrants. In that, Anton is echoing Samuel Huntington, who showed that America is a society of settlers. Those settlers in the 17th and 18th centuries—more than anyone else after—had the most profound and lasting impact on American culture, institutions, historical development, and identity. American began in the 1600s—not 1874—and what followed in the 1770s and 1780s was rooted in the founded society of those settlers.

“The most important fact to keep in mind when studying political changes in America is that the United States is a product of a settler society,” writes historian J. Rogers Hollingsworth.

Settlers, Anton explains, travel from an existing society into the wilderness to build a society ex nihilo. Settlers travel in groups that either implicitly or explicitly agree to a social compact. Settlers, unlike immigrants, go abroad with the intention of creating a new community away from the mother country. Immigrants, on the other hand, travel from one existing society to another, either as individuals or as families, and are motivated by different reasons; and not always good ones. Immigrants come later to be part of the society already built by settlers, who, as Higham wrote, establish the polity, language, customs, and habits of the society immigrants seek to join and in joining must embrace and adopt.

Justice Louis Brandeis would later echo Jay, declaring that the immigrant is Americanized when he “adopts the clothes, the manners, and the customs generally prevailing here . . . substitutes for his mother tongue the English language,” ensures that “his interests and affections have become deeply rooted here,” and comes “into complete harmony with our ideals and aspirations.” Only when the immigrant has done this will he have “the national consciousness of an American.”

Certainly, the Left (and a great many neoconservatives, for that matter) pays lip service to the principles that constitute what we call the American Creed: liberty, representative government, individualism, and equality. The principles of the Creed are transcendent of race and ethnicity, and it is for this reason that America has the capacity to assimilate foreigners into its society in a way that is unique to the rest of the world. One can become an American in a way that it is impossible to become a German, for example.

But the principles behind the Creed are universal because they are largely abstractions. As such, they do not tell us anything about the society that actually attracts the immigrants, nor do they tell us anything about the people whose culture fostered the Creed. This is generally as far as civic nationalists are willing to go. Either out of political expediency or for fear of being condemned as racists for merely stating that this nation has an historic demographic; upon whose culture the societal scaffolding of our nation was built, and thus laid the foundations of a Creed by which all men can live.

The “crucible in which all the new types are melted into one,” said Teddy Roosevelt, “was shaped from 1776 to 1789, and our nationality was definitely fixed in all its essentials by the men of Washington’s day.” These “essentials” are derived from the historic Anglo-Protestant, Middle American core of the nation, in whose culture we find the British traditions of law, justice, and limits upon government power, the English language, a legacy of European art, literature, philosophy, and music, Protestant moralism, and an ethic of self-control, self-reliance, and self-assertion.

In the Anglo tradition, Americans will find their customs, prayers, precepts, and political ideas; the bicameral legislature, the division of government powers, a legislative committee system, and so on. In the Protestant tradition, Americans find responsiveness of government to the people, their work ethic, individualism, a zeal for religious and cultural restoration, and a deep skepticism of centralized state power.

What the Multiculturalists Can Teach Us
The Creed did not appear spontaneously, it is the product of the culture of this nation’s historic Anglo-Protestant demographic. Millions of immigrants and their children attained prosperity in America because they Americanized and adopted Anglo-Protestant culture. There is no question that this is precisely what historically has been the case, and we can find affirmation in the words of the critics of Americanization.

Will Kymlicka, a multicultural theorist, argued in 1995 that before the 1960s, immigrants “were expected to shed their distinctive heritage and assimilate entirely to existing cultural norms.” This process of Americanization Kymlicka grudgingly labeled the “Anglo-conformity model.” “Anglo-conformity” is on target, and it is precisely this process that has benefitted both the nation and the immigrants who have embraced it. Moreover, there are two implicit truths in Kymlicka’s words: America was never a multicultural society, and Americanization was in full effect until the 1960s.

How effective? Prior to waves of sustained immigration from Latin America after the 1960s, the United States was a land of 200 million people virtually all speaking English.

The Left has fully rejected this older approach to assimilation as “un-American.” It is, to the Left, un-American to ask that foreigners respect our laws and, if they are so fortunate as to be admitted to this great nation, embrace the culture that made it all possible. According to the Left, America’s historic demographic is the only thing wrong with America at all, and if these native-born Americans will not acquiesce their forced obsolescence, then they should simply leave the country to make room for more “good Americans” who are not American at all. America, however, is “not the common property of all mankind,” as Anton has so correctly noted.

There are no patriots among those who have slandered or misconstrued the history, culture, and principles of this nation in an effort to subvert and destroy all that we call America. There are no patriots on the Left. America belongs to no one but Americans. It does not belong to the foreign masses of the world and it does not belong to the Left who, having rejected the American way, cannot count themselves among its patriots.

This article was originally published by the Center for American Greatness, Inc.

Correction: This article was edited slightly on July 12 to reflect that California’s Latino population overtook the white population in 2014; California did not become a majority Latino state. According to U.S. Census figures, the Golden State’s Latino population is 38 percent.

Photo credit: Getty Images

Kamala Harris Claims ‘Eight Immigrants’ Signed Declaration – See the Internet’s Reaction

Even though the Fourth of July is seen as a holiday of unity for all Americans, there were still some in the political world who chose to use the holiday to send a partisan message.

In particular, Democratic Senator and potential 2020 candidate Kamala Harris tweeted odd political commentary on Wednesday’s holiday, erroneously claiming that “eight immigrants” signed the Declaration of Independence.

It is a historical fact that of the 56 people signed the document, the vast majority of which were American-born. The point is also strange because America was not an independent nation at the time and therefore had no immigration laws of its own yet. It is safe to say the internet reacted badly to the Democrat Senator’s tweet.

This article was originally published by the Daily Caller

New Democratic Superdelegate System Could Favor Kamala Harris in 2020

Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris urges funds for tracking prescription drugsSupporters of Bernie Sanders’s 2016 presidential bid have long blamed the Democratic Party’s superdelegate system for his defeat. It’s no surprise, therefore, that they are pushing to reform that system, reducing or perhaps even eliminating slots for unelected and unpledged delegates. Recent reports suggest that they may succeed in doing so, but that their efforts will not help Sanders win the party’s nomination in 2020. Instead, they will make it likelier that another progressive will triumph: California Senator Kamala Harris.

Harris, not Sanders, will be the probable beneficiary of the rules change because of the demographic makeup of the Democratic primary electorate. It would not be an oversimplification to say that the Democrats divide into three rough groups: progressives, centrists, and non-whites. African-Americans are by far the largest share of the last group, totaling nearly a quarter of all Democratic voters nationwide.

Democratic Party nomination fights have followed a similar pattern since at least 1984. A candidate appealing to educated, more liberal Democrats challenges a relatively more centrist rival favored by the party establishment; the progressive wins most primaries and caucuses in New England, the West, and Wisconsin, while the centrist wins most of the remaining states. This outcome has historically doomed the progressive, from 1984 challenger Senator Gary Hart to Sanders himself, because there are more centrists than progressives or liberals.

The non-white vote, and especially the African-American vote, plays an underappreciated role in this process. Non-whites almost invariably back the more centrist candidate, providing that person with key support to defeat his or her more liberal challenger. Africans-Americans and Latinos backed Walter Mondale over Hart in 1984 and Bill Clinton over Paul Tsongas and Jerry Brown in 1992, delivering the nomination to both men in the process. They did so again in 2016, backing Hillary Clinton by margins as large as 80 percent, allowing her to win most Southern and Midwestern primary states as a result.

African-American voters do break from this mold, however, when a serious African-American candidate is running. Jesse Jackson won two states dominated by African-American Democrats in 1984 and swept six Southern states in 1988. Crucially, Barack Obama owed his nomination in 2008 to African-American voters, riding their overwhelming support to win seven Southern states and many delegates in Midwestern and Northeastern states with large, urban black populations. If not for their support, Obama would have merely been yet another failed progressive challenger.

Indeed, except for the African-American community, support for Obama in 2008 and Sanders in 2016 is strikingly similar. According to 2016 exit polls, Sanders ran best among self-described “very liberal” voters, beating Clinton among them in virtually every state. Similarly, 2008 exit polls showed Obama beating Clinton among those voters in all but four states. Obama and Sanders also swept party caucuses, each winning the same states in these progressive-dominated contests. Sanders and Obama also both won the more progressive-minded primary states of Oregon, Montana, and Wisconsin. Had Sanders attained Obama’s support among African-Americans, then he, not Hillary Clinton, would have been the 2016 nominee, regardless of superdelegate support.

This is where Senator Harris can do what Sanders could not. As a dynamic, African-American woman, she could follow in Jackson’s and Obama’s footsteps and win African-American votes. If she can combine them with the Obama-Sanders progressive wing of the party, she will easily repeat Obama’s 2008 feat and gain the nomination.

Her potential rise is aided by the increasing strength of progressives and African-Americans within Democratic Party contests. According to primary exit polls, the share of very liberal voters increased in every state between 2008 and 2016. Very liberal voters were less than one-fifth of the Democratic electorate in 2008 but constituted between 25 percent and 30 percent in 2016. The share of African-Americans within the electorate also rose in 17 of the 21 states with exit polls in both years.

Harris would also benefit from the dramatic decline of moderate and conservative Democratic primary voters. As recently as 2008, such voters were a majority in virtually every primary state. White moderates and conservatives provided the political support for centrist candidates, giving Hillary Clinton their backing in 2008 and 2016. But in 2016, moderates were outnumbered by liberals in all but two states, Tennessee and West Virginia. The share of Democrats who called themselves “just” liberal rose in tandem with the increase in very liberal voters. A candidate who can rally the Democratic left wing therefore stands in a stronger position than at any time in party history.

Harris’s home state also makes her the likeliest beneficiary of these trends. California is not only the largest state; it is also the most Democratic large state. It will send close to 500 delegates to the 2020 convention, nearly 20 percent of the total needed to nominate a candidate, and over 200 more than the second-largest state. Harris won’t win all of California’s delegates—the party’s system of awarding delegates proportionately to the votes received ensures that—but her potential strength among progressives and non-whites, combined with her progressive bona fides, could ensure that she wins as many as 300 Golden State delegates. No prospective challenger, outside of New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand or Andrew Cuomo, comes from a state anywhere near large enough to provide a comparable home-state boost.

One can guess that the prospect of nominating a progressive, female, African-American from California gives some party leaders the shivers. If you believe, as many Democrats do, that Donald Trump won the presidency because of racism and sexism, then the party could hardly trigger such instincts more than by nominating a female African-American. If you believe, as I do, that Trump won because of fears about the progressive Left’s agenda, then nominating a progressive’s progressive like Harris should also make you think twice. Even considering all of Trump’s negatives, leading Democratic insiders might think that their best nominee should have more in common with the Midwestern suburbanites and blue-collar voters who will elect the next president.

Under current rules, the Democratic superdelegates could swing behind a theoretically more electable candidate if, as has happened in the last two contests, no one emerges from the primary season with a nominating majority of delegates. But with the number of superdelegates curtailed or eliminated, that is unlikely to happen.

Sanders backers are surely sincere in their conviction that superdelegates cost their man the nomination. But in their rush to make the path straight for his return, they are clearing the path for a progressive with more cross-racial appeal, like Harris, to push him aside. Much to their horror, that result could make Donald Trump’s chances for a second term a whole lot better.

Two California Republican Congressmen Vote Against GOP Tax Reform

800px-US_Capitol_from_NWTwo California Republicans, Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), voted against the tax reform bill on Tuesday.

They were the only Republican members of California’s congressional delegation to do so. Every one of California’s Democrats did so, and Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) are also expected to vote against the bill.

Ten other Republicans also voted against the tax reform bill, most from other high-tax states, notably New York and New Jersey.

Both Issa and Rohrabacher are considered vulnerable in the 2018 midterm elections, after Hillary Clinton won their districts in 2016. Both are among seven Republicans in the Golden State who are being targeted by Democrats.

Issa was barely re-elected in 2018, and faces four Democratic challengers next year; Rohrabacher already faces seven Democratic challengers (plus two Republicans, one Libertarian, and an Independent) in next year’s primary. Notably, five of those Republicans still voted for the tax reform bill.

Rohrabacher has stated publicly that he opposes the tax reform bill because he is concerned that the partial repeal of the state and local tax (SALT) deduction, and the cap on mortgage interest deductions, could see taxes raised on some of the residents of his district despite the lowering of income tax and corporate tax rates.

Issa opposes the bill for the same reason, but also publicly blamed Governor Jerry Brown and California Democrats for the dilemma facing California taxpayers.

One Republican who switched from “no” to “yes” was conservative Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA), who voted against the original House version of the bill but supported the compromise bill drafted with the Senate because of revisions that addressed his concerns.

In a speech on the House floor, he said, in part:

The new version leaves the casualty loss, medical expense and student interest deductions intact.  No family needs to fear being ruined by taxes after a major declared disaster or illness, and graduates can continue to plan their lives knowing interest on their student loans will not be taxed.  The new bill eases the proposed limit on mortgage interest deductions and allows up to $10,000 of state and local taxes to be deducted – all important improvements for Californians.

Most importantly, the lower tax rates in this bill now more than compensate in almost every case for the remaining limits on state and local tax and mortgage interest deductions.  Even taxpayers who lose tens of thousands of dollars of deductions will still pay lower taxes than they do today.

The House will have to vote again on the bill, after two minor provisions in the legislation ran afoul of Senate parliamentary rules for reconciliation (which allows votes pertaining to budget issues to pass on a simple majority rather than a 60-vote supermajority). Rohrabacher and Issa are expected to repeat their “no” votes.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

This article was originally published by Breitbart.com/California

Will Bay Area political crowd trump LA yet again?

Gavin newsomIt’s been a fait accompli that Gavin Newsom, the former San Francisco mayor and current lieutenant governor, will be California’s next governor after the iconic Jerry Brown heads off into the sunset next year. Moonbeam is a hard act to follow, having served as the state’s youngest and oldest chief executive, but it’s too bad California can’t at least muster a feisty and contentious political debate before crowning another Bay Area pol as successor.

You know, where politicians actually debate issues, take varying political stances and give voters a choice rather than a coronation.

It’s hard to understand Southern California’s inability to exert much clout at the highest levels of California government. Brown is from Oakland. U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, the former state attorney general who got here start under the tutelage of former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, already is touted as the inevitable Democratic nominee for president.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, whose slim accomplishments certainly are on par with those of Harris, is mostly garnering skepticism for his possible presidential run. Sen. Dianne Feinstein is from Marin County and Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon is, of course, from Los Angeles, but he’s too busy dealing with an unfolding sexual-harassment scandal in his own chamber to have the time for a serious shot at her U.S. Senate seat.

De Leon and the low-key Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Paramount, have the top legislative spots, but they’ve mostly rubberstamped the governor’s priorities. No one would suggest that either man is a true power broker – or is on the fast track to the governor’s mansion or the U.S. Capitol. There’s little doubt that Southern California politicians play second fiddle to their Bay Area counterparts and don’t even put up a fuss about it.

They rarely set an agenda that’s distinct from the one set by their Bay Area betters, so perhaps that explains why a region with so many people can’t seem to keep up with the power of an area that’s far less populous. San Francisco Democrats and Los Angeles ones are both progressive – but their priorities should not be interchangeable. The demographics and economies are vastly different between the state’s two megalopolises.

The latest Public Policy Institute of California poll offers some mixed news for Southlanders. For instance, Newsom’s latest lead is far lower than expected. He is favored by 23 percent of surveyed voters, with former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, also a Democrat, coming in a surprisingly close second at 18 percent. The other contenders, including the two lackluster Republicans (John Cox and Travis Allen), are in single digits. With the top-two primary system, the top two vote-getters face off in the general election even if they are from the same party.

In the Senate race, Feinstein is besting de Leon by a two-to-one margin, and around half of the voters surveyed had never even heard of de Leon, which is perfectly understandable given his underwhelming tenure in the Capitol. De Leon did throw a really cool $50,000 party at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in 2014 to celebrate his inauguration as Senate president pro tempore, but apparently the “glitz-fest,” as the Sacramento Bee called it, didn’t help any lasting name identification.

On the surface, Villaraigosa’s competitiveness in the gubernatorial race does offer hope that a Southern California politician could once again lead the state. But don’t get your hopes up. He admirably has taken on the teachers’ unions to advance school reform, but he also touched the third rail of politics, when he called for “changes” to 1978’s property-tax-limiting Proposition 13. Instituting a “split roll,” for instance, would dramatically increase the tax bill paid by commercial property owners.

This is more than a policy problem. Villaraigosa’s path to the governor’s mansion involves rallying Southern Californians, Latinos and remaining conservative and Republican-oriented voters. The latter comprise a falling 26 percent of voters, but it’s a significant enough block to create a path to victory. But attacking Prop. 13 tax protection is a nonstarter for that group.

Last November, former Orange County Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez seemed to embrace a similar political strategy (Latinos, mod Dems, Southern Californians, Republicans) to take on Harris for the U.S. Senate race, but despite her more moderate positions, her Latina background and SoCal credentials, Sanchez could only muster 38 percent of the vote. Unless, Villaraigosa expands his appeal, he is likely to face a similar fate.

“It looks just like the Harris race that it’s preordained that the candidate from the Bay Area will get the position rather than a qualified Latino candidate from Southern California,” said Alan Clayton, a San Gabriel Valley-based redistricting expert. “The political class in California protects its own, and they are significantly from the Bay Area.”

For Southern Californians to have a greater voice in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., Southern California Democrats have to speak with a more regional voice – one that focuses on public-sector reform, fiscal responsibility and on working-class concerns (jobs, housing, etc.) rather than the often-bizarre fixations of San Francisco liberals. Until then, expect a county that’s more populous than 40 other states to remain the lapdog to the Bay Area political establishment.

Steven Greenhut is a Sacramento-based writer. 

This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily

Does Eric Garcetti – like Kamala Harris – have an eye on the White House?

Photo courtesy of Eric Garcetti, Flickr.

California Sen. Kamala Harris’ splashy first year in Washington has made her a fixture on lists of potential 2020 Democratic presidential candidates – and not as an interesting long shot but as someone with a strong chance.

While the California Legislature’s recent vote to move the state’s 2020 presidential primary from June to March was seen in the Golden State as yet another attempt to make America’s most populous, richest state more of a factor in deciding the presidential nomination, a Newsweekanalysis last month saw it as an attempt to boost Harris’ potential White House bid. The Newsweek headline: “Is Kamala Harris Now the 2020 Favorite to Take on Trump?”

In 2016, California had 548 delegates at the Democratic Convention – nearly one-quarter of the 2,382 needed for the nomination that year. The numbers are likely to be similar in 2020, potentially giving Harris a big boost in the nomination race after voting in Iowa, New Hampshire and a handful of other states possibly more inclined to back more familiar Democrats such as former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders or Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

But there appears to be a fair chance that the assumption Harris would be the clear choice in the Golden State faces a huge complication: the presence of another popular, fresh California politician in the Democratic nomination mix.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has hinted that he’s thinking about running for governor in 2018 as well as president in 2020. After his recent appearance at the Sacramento Press Club, a Los Angeles Times account said his coy responses to questions about his political future “did little to dampen what has become a rowdy parlor game among California politicos: speculating on just what Garcetti will do next.”

The idea that Los Angeles residents might be upset about a Garcetti presidential bid because it would take him away from his duties as mayor is undercut by a Loyola Marymount poll released last month. It showed 63 percent of the 914 Los Angeles County residents surveyed were “strongly supportive” or “somewhat supportive” of Garcetti seeking the White House.

A Politico analysis in May offered a look at why a Garcetti bid intrigues some in the upper ranks of the Democratic establishment. It described him as a handsome 46-year-old who “was just re-elected to a second term with 81 percent of the vote, and is half-Mexican (he speaks Spanish fluently) and half-Jewish (he’s an active member of a very progressive L.A. synagogue), a Rhodes scholar and former Navy intelligence reserve officer.”

Harris, who turned 53 Friday, also has an attractive personal story in a Democratic Party on the lookout for candidates who can inspire large turnouts among young and minority voters. She has a Jamaican-American father and Indian-American mother and has been a trailblazer throughout her political career.

Both have records with fodder for attack ads

But if either Garcetti or Harris seek the White House, rival Democrats will have no shortage of fodder for attack ads.

Garcetti was first elected mayor in 2013 and cruised to re-election earlier this year, facing no serious opposition. He is considered hard-working and an impressive policy wonk.

But Los Angeles has emerged as the epicenter of American poverty in recent years thanks to high housing costs and the departure of Fortune 500 firms and mid-sized businesses alike. A 2014 blue-ribbon report commissioned by the City Council depicted Los Angeles as “facing economic decline, weighed down by poverty, strangled by traffic and suffering from a crisis of leadership,” according to a Los Angeles Times account. Garcetti has not reversed this downward arc, leading to a Los Angeles magazine article in August lamenting how Silicon Valley had far eclipsed the Los Angeles region.

As for Harris, her record during six years as attorney general was more mixed than some national coverage assumes – and at times at odds with now-ascendant Bernie Sanders-style populism. While she achieved high-profile wins in going after corporate malfeasance  – starting with shady mortgage lenders  – she was not a leader in criminal-justice reform in an era in which the movement built up momentum in California with dramatic changes in sentencing and parole laws. Some editorial writers challenged her description of herself as a “bold leader.” Jacobin magazine, which has a devoted following among progressives, was much harsher, depicting her as having “two faces” on crime and siding with reactionary tough-on-crime policies repeatedly while attorney general. Other liberal voices strongly agree, as the New Republic reported in August.

As California AG, Harris also continued a long bipartisan tradition that appalls good-government advocates: writing slanted descriptions of ballot measures that are meant to help or hurt the proposals. In 2015, for example, the liberal San Francisco Chronicle editorial page blasted Harris for ballot language that effectively killed a pension reform campaign in its infancy.

This article was originally published by CalWatchdog.com

Poll: State Dems want to oust Pelosi in 2018

Voter Views of California’s Three National Leaders in Washington

Pelosi:  State Democrats favor their party choosing someone else to serve as House leader after the 2018 elections.

Feinstein:  While voters rate her job performance positively, fewer than half are inclined to support a re-election bid.

Harris:  The freshman Senator’s job marks now exceed Feinstein’s, but most want her to remain in the Senate rather than run for president in 2020.

Data from Berkeley IGS Poll – Institute of Governmental Studies

California Democrats favor their party choosing someone other than Nancy Pelosi as House leader after the 2018 elections

California Democrats were asked their opinions about whether Nancy Pelosi should remain as House leader after next year’s elections or whether it would be better for their party to choose someone else. When posing this question, voters were divided into two random subsamples, with half asked the question under the scenario that the Democrats regain control of the House in the 2018 elections, and the other half asked the question assuming the Democrats do not regain control of the House.

In both settings, larger proportions of the state’s Democratic rank-and-file prefer their party to choose another Democrat as House leader rather than Pelosi. Were the Democrats to regain control of the House in 2018, 44% prefer their party choosing someone other than Pelosi as Speaker, while just 30% would like Pelosi to serve in that role. If the Democrats don’t regain control of the House next year, the proportion favoring the Democrats to choose someone other than Pelosi as their House leader grows to 50%.

Table 5

 

To view the entire poll, click here

 

Fish or farms? A new battle rages over California water

As reported by the Fresno Bee:

Fish or farms?

The House this week will tackle the question, which for years has triggered a tug-of-war between growers and environmentalists. It plans to vote on a Republican-authored plan aimed at sending more of northern California’s water to the Central Valley farmers who say they badly need it.

But California’s two U.S. senators, both Democrats, vow to block the bill in that chamber, saying it would bypass environmental safeguards and override state law. Gov. Jerry Brown also opposes the bill.

The bill, said Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., in an interview, “does not strike the right balance because there’s no reason that we have to accept a false choice and somehow weaken the Endangered Species Act in order to be smarter with water policy.”

In the middle of this political brawl are growers who have have long felt that the state’s water policies prioritize fish over farms. Surplus water is allowed to flow out into the Pacific Ocean in order to protect the ecosystems of fish like salmon and steelhead. They want it flowing to their land instead. …

Click here to read the full article

California Democrats spend significant campaign cash fighting each other thanks to top-two primary rule

Kamala Harris Loretta SanchezNew figures on the November 2016 election cycle showed that Golden State Democrats continued to shell out substantial sums to compete with one another for elective office. Numbers taken from the California Secretary of State, and verified with Cal-Access campaign records, illustrate how the state’s blanket primary system, which pits the top two first-round vote-getters against one another in general elections regardless of party, has changed election dynamics.

“In the 2016 election cycle, Democrats raised or spent $91.5 million on same-party races – a 69 percent increase from 2014 when Democrats spent $54.3 million,” according to Forward Observer, which gathered and analyzed the data. “The average budget for a same-party race between Democrats was $3.97 million in the 2016 cycle, up 32 percent since 2014.”

For the state GOP, by contrast, blanket primaries have had an increasingly milder effect. “Republicans raised or spent $2.78 million on same party races in 2016, a decline of approximately 80 percent since 2014 when Republicans spent $13.85 million,” Forward Observer added. “Notably, there were no same-party races between two Republicans in either the state Senate or the U.S. House of Representatives in 2016.”

Contributing to the discrepancy, Republicans in California have simply run against one another with less frequency than Democrats. Since the 2012 elections, when the blanket primary system began, only 20 of 79 total intraparty races – including those for seats in the Assembly, the state Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives – pitted one Republican candidate against another. The 59 Democrat-on-Democrat races notched over the relatively brief time period have added up: “In total, Democrats have spent a total of $195 million on same-party races since Prop. 14 first went into effect in 2012 compared to $31.3 million spent by Republicans,” Forward Observer concluded. “In other words, Democrats have spent $6.24 on same-party races for every dollar spent or raised by Republicans.”

A wedge effect

The news underscored indications earlier this year that California Democrats could be polarizing on some issues as a result of the party’s statewide dominance and tough competition for limited leadership positions. “Another effect of the [blanket primary] system, harder to quantify but possibly more serious, has been a sharpening differences between the more moderate and more progressive wings of the party, sparking sometimes thorny disagreements that could have been softened had all candidates vying for office run against Republican opponents,” as CalWatchdog previously reported. “In some cases, such as Kamala Harris’ race against Loretta Sanchez, the challenger was too weak to force a bruising battle over political agendas. In others, however, a more moderate non-incumbent drew a clear line on policy and was rewarded at the ballot box.”

“Last year, for instance, Orinda Mayor Steve Glazer – a former aide to Gov. Jerry Brown who pitted himself against the BART strike and won support from Chuck Reed, the ex-San Jose Mayor spearheading public pension reform – bested Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, the far more liberal Democrat who initially had been widely expected to win the race to replace outgoing state Senator Mark DeSaulnier.”

National impact

Nationally, divided Democrats have sometimes replicated the pattern. “Former Vice President Joe Biden, beloved by the Democratic base, had the audacity to endorse Barack Obama’s labor secretary, Tom Perez, to become Democratic National Committee chairman,” as Dan Morain wrote at the Sacramento Bee. “Sen. Bernie Sanders, who supports the more liberal Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, denounced Biden’s move as representing the ‘failed status-quo approach.’” But while Sanders made a big cameo during November’s elections, getting involved in the state initiative process, it’s unlikely he or other national party figures will try to tip the scales one way or the other in a close race scenario between two state-level California Democrats vying for the same office.

Still, the next big test of Democrats’ fundraising fortunes in a head-to-head matchup has been teed up for spring, when the special election will be held to replace new state Attorney General and outgoing Rep. Xavier Becerra in Congress. “At this point, 17 Democrats, two Republicans and one Green-party candidate will appear on the April 4 special-primary ballot,” Jim Geraghty observed at National Review. Assuming no contender wins a majority of votes on that day, the runoff election has been slated for June 6.

This piece was originally published by CalWatchdog.com