Bring the disruptive entrepreneurship of Silicon Valley to California politics

Berlin, Germany, March 19, 2014. Hy! Summit - Image by Dan Taylor. www.heisenbergmedia.com

California has been a one-party state for longer than most memories will allow. For four decades, with the brief exception from 1995 to 1996, when the GOP held the state Senate by two seats, the California Legislature has been the exclusive kingdom of Democrats. The last Republican moment of clout was 1969-70, when Ronald Reagan was governor and the party held both the Assembly and the Senate. Three GOP governors have been elected since, but only six Republicans have held statewide office since 1998, while Democrats have occupied 23.

The congressional delegation is a reflection of the statehouse. Both senators are Democrats, and voters sent 39 Democrats to the House. Only a little more than a quarter of California voters are registered Republicans, so it’s hardly a surprise that the Democrats exercise such dominance.

This single-party regime, however, has led to a destructive public-policy agenda, along with inattention to pressing needs. The state’s political class has advocated vanity projects such as Governor Jerry Brown’s costly and needless high-speed rail plan; neglected a tangle of transportation infrastructure that is now going to cost $52 billion to repair; failed to address effectively a housing crisis that drove the cost of homes out of reach for many; fed a public-employee pension plan threatening to bankrupt the state; and created a tax structure that is pushing out the middle class. California’s governing party now proposes to force a single-payer health-care system on residents and promotes unyielding regulation on business and development, impeding job creation. Progressive leadership in Sacramento and at the local level is obsessed with “resisting” the Trump administration and fighting climate change.

California’s single-party rule has damaged the state to the point that it hasn’t been able to escape unflattering comparisons with its neighbor to the south. “Forty years ago, Mexico was a one-party dictatorship . . . hobbled by slow growth, soaring inequality, endemic corruption and dead politics,” writes demographer Joel Kotkin. “California, in contrast, was considered a model American state, with a highly regarded Legislature, relatively clean politics, a competitive political process and a soaring economy. Today these roles are somewhat reversed.”

When one party has such a dominant political position, destructive public policy is not the only problem. Corruption has fewer hurdles when members of the ruling party believe that they stand above the law. Democrats recently passed new rules governing the timing of recall elections solely to protect one of their members, State Senator Josh Newman, who is facing a recall. But corruption in California Democratic politics is not new: Rod Wright, Leland Yee, and Ron Calderon were all elected Democratic legislators who thought their party’s power gave them license to break the law. Two wound up in federal prison, the other in the Los Angeles County jail.

The political status quo deserves to be disrupted in California, though it’s unlikely that anyone from the ranks of elected Republicans can break the Democrats’ grip on power. What’s needed is someone who would effectively and unapologetically oppose the agenda of the majority party but who is also an outsider; whose appeal is cross-partisan; who understands Silicon Valley, which has immense political strength; and who is sympathetic to the cause of attracting more business and capital to areas outside of the tech center.

Three years ago, Republican Neel Kashkari, a former Goldman Sachs investment banker who didn’t align fully with establishment Republicanism and had never held elected office, shook the political foundations a bit when he ran against Jerry Brown. Kashkari took only 40 percent of the vote, but maybe he was the Goldwater candidate who laid the groundwork for another, who will truly rock California politics.

Peter Thiel is no stranger to disruption. The PayPal cofounder supported Donald Trump in 2016, spoke at the Republican National Convention (where he announced that he is proud to be gay), and worked on Trump’s transition team. He’s been part of one of the most convulsing events in U.S. political history. “Like Trump,” Michelle Cottle wrote in The Atlantic just before last year’s election, “Thiel himself takes great pride in being a disruptive force. He favors revolutionary ideas and people with big plans for blowing things up and remaking the world.”

Thiel has said on multiple occasions that he is not running for governor next year, though there were indications early in 2017 that he might enter the race. If he were to run, he could be the candidate who would break the Democrats’ political stranglehold, the force who could revive the moribund California Republican Party sufficiently for it to challenge Democratic dominance. But even if Thiel decides not to seek the governorship, it’s clear that the Golden State needs someone equally willing to challenge conventional thinking and promote a new approach to the major fiscal, economic, and development questions that California faces. The alternative is more of the same.

Peter Thiel Faces Retaliation in Silicon Valley for Trump Support

peter-thielThe Silicon Valley Thought Police are demanding retaliation against top venture capitalist Peter Thiel for making a $1.25 million contribution to Republican Donald Trump.

Thiel co-founded the wildly successful PayPal and Palantir, and was an early stage venture capital investor in Facebook, Airbnb, Stripe, Spotify, SpaceX, Lyft and many more. He has also helped numerous companies and mentored many of Silicon Valley’s top entrepreneurs. As part of the small circle of Silicon Valley tech royalty, his net worth is $2.7 billion, which puts him at number 246 on the Forbes 400 list of the world’s richest individuals.

He then used his wealth to sponsor philanthropic activities through a nonprofit he created called the Thiel Foundation, which organizes and sponsors nonprofits that are working on radical new ideas in technology, government, and human affairs. Thiel has also been the main financial backer of the “Machine Intelligence Research Institute,” which is a world leader in pursuing technological singularity and artificial intelligence.

As a Silicon Valley insider, it would be assumed that Thiel would be a typical progressive who supports unlimited open borders and the full left-wing agenda. But Breitbart News reported, Thiel — who had written conservative criticisms of political correctness as a student — became more publicly political after he was viciously outed by Nick Denton’s Gawker in a 2007 article titled, “Peter Thiel is totally gay, people.”

Milo Yiannopoulos, Breitbart’s tech editor, described Gawker’s political slant under Denton as “doubling down on the hateful feminist and race-baiting claptrap so loathed by anyone outside of Manhattan and American colleges, giving indications that its poisonous, lunatic feminist organ Jezebel will be the primary lens through which Gawker interprets popular culture.”

Thiel seemed to respond to the pain of his Gawker experience by becoming an open supporter of Ron Paul. Since 2007, Thiel has funded GOP outreach efforts to the gay community and been a solid contributor to Republican presidential campaigns.

Thiel also spent $10 million to fund litigation against Gawker victims, including the iconic professional wrestler Hulk Hogan, who was the subject of surreptitious filming and the Gawker release of a private sex tape. “The Hulk” in March won $115 million in compensatory damages and $25 million more for punitive damages against Gawker for violating his privacy rights. The since-bankrupt Gawker is in the process of being liquidated.

All of this is anathema to supposed free speech progressives. But in the ultimate sin to the “Left,” Thiel served as a Trump California primary delegate and became one of the few large donors to the Trump presidential campaign, which has set records by raising $360 million mostly from small donors of under $140.

Led by the infamous Ellen Pao, who lost a 2015 gender discrimination and retaliation suit against the prestigious Silicon Valley venture capital firm of Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield and Byers, the Left moved to retaliate against Theil by starting an Internet campaign to have Thiel fired from his positions as a board member of Facebook and a venture capital partner of Y Combinator.

Pao, through her organization “Project,” also called on consumers, job candidates, partners and other fellow progressive travelers to retaliate against Thiel’s friends and business associates by ending relationships with any organization that associates with him.

The anti-Thiel witch hunt is patterned on the 2014 chaos generated when Mozilla co-founder and then-CEO Brendan Eich gave a $1,000 donation to Proposition 8, California’s successful anti-gay marriage ballot initiative. Leftist viral attacks quickly forced him to step down; since then, the Mozilla Firefox desktop browser’s market share has tanked from 13 percent to 8 percent.

Facebook and Y Combinator’s CEOs are both staunch Hillary Clinton supporters, but they know Thiel is one of the most brilliant strategists in Silicon Valley and his loss would cause real turmoil in their organizations.

This piece was originally published by Breitbart.com/California

NeverTrump’s Nemesis: California Delegation to Republican Convention

U.S. Republican presidential candidate businessman Donald Trump speaks at a veteran's rally in Des Moines, Iowa January 28, 2016. REUTERS/Rick Wilking - RTX24HM9

CLEVELAND, Ohio — California was the state where Ted Cruz was going to make his last, decisive stand against Donald Trump for the Republican nomination. Instead, the California delegation to the Republican National Convention is Donald Trump’s doomsday weapon.

The state’s 172 delegates were almost entirely “hand-picked by Trump,” the Sacramento Bee reports. And the sheer size of the delegation — the convention’s largest — makes it an effective tool for Trump to use to stop any “NeverTrump” insurgency at the convention.

The California contingent has been housed far away from the convention site, 60 miles west of Cleveland, in the Lake Erie town of Sandusky. The venue: the Kalahari water park and resort, where the drought-conscious Californian delegation might enjoy the sight of precious fresh water being wasted in every direction. (Some were not so impressed by the atmosphere, reminiscent of  National Lampoon’s Vacation: “It reminds me of a bad Chevy Chase movie,” one delegate told the Bee.)

Yet the delegation will be seated in the front rows for the duration of the convention, because it will present the most visible and enthusiastic bloc of Trump supporters in the Quicken Loans Arena.

The San Francisco Chronicle elaborates:

The 172-member California delegation, the nation’s largest, is Trump’s designated enforcer.

“We are the backstop,” California Republican Party Chairman Jim Brulte — in Hawaiian shirt — told me near the Zanzibar.

“If you want to mess, bring it on,” Trump’s California state director, Tim Clark — in flip-flops and shorts — explained. “This delegation was built for a fight. If the Never Trumpers want to start something, they have to go through us.”

Some members of the delegation have been on the Trump train forever; some, like Republican National Committeeman Shaun Steel, once called Trump a “clown” but now feel he is the best, and the only, alternative to Hillary Clinton. And one delegate, billionaire Peter Thiel — who is not staying in Sandusky — has a prime time speaking slot on the last night of the convention, when Trump accepts the GOP nomination.

The delegation has come a long way from early April, when the Cruz campaign mockedTrump’s California operation, predicting that Trump would fail to find enough delegates in each of the state’s 53 congressional districts.

Today, the delegation is strong, loyal, and — as even the East Bay Times observed — diverse, with youth, women, and minorities all represented amply.

Even the Chronicle acknowledged that the delegation’s vibe has changed. No longer is it made up of the “white-haired state senators” and “the political fanboys,” but grassroots activists like Rachel Casey, the woman who was infamously assaulted by anti-Trump demonstrators in full view of the media last month.

California was once among the states most skeptical of Trump. Today, in Cleveland, it is Trump’s most loyal.

Republicans hope that the rest of the party catches the same spirit.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. His new book, See No Evil: 19 Hard Truths the Left Can’t Handle, will be published by Regnery on July 25 and is available for pre-order through Amazon. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

This piece was originally published by Breitbart.com