Can Sanity Prevail in California?

Victor Davis Hanson is a resident scholar at the Hoover Institute and lifelong Californian from the Central Valley.

He recently spoke at a conference of Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association members. For the naïve who want an optimistic presentation about how great California is, VDH is not your guy. He gives an accurate, if depressing, view of the current state of the state. In both his writings and speeches, he assesses just how far California has deteriorated; from homelessness, poverty, cost of living, crime, taxes, business climate, etc., ad nauseum.

The decline of California has, as most know, led to an unprecedented exodus out of the state. So much so that for the first time in its history, California has lost representation in Congress. In addition to the 2 million people who have already left California, far more are seriously considering it. Facebook now has a group called “Life after California” with rapidly growing membership.

But most Californians are unlikely to leave, at least anytime soon.

They will stay either because they are willing to tolerate all that is wrong here, or they are not able to leave.

A Central Valley farmer isn’t going to pick up his orchard and move to Texas.

Neither is the retired couple who want to stay close to family members, including grandchildren.

But simply because tens of millions will stay in California does not mean they are oblivious to its ills.

Those deciding to stick it out here in the formerly Golden State are constantly on the lookout for some faint signs that things might get better. Last week’s primary election returns might provide such a sign, although it would be foolish to believe there has been a political sea change.

First, the good news. It now appears that voters in the most liberal city in America have had it with rising crime. Given that you can count the number of Republicans in San Francisco on two hands, the rejection of the city’s District Attorney, Chesa Boudin, certainly wasn’t a partisan fight. San Franciscans of all political stripes simply felt unsafe on city streets as tens of thousands had their cars or homes broken into. It doesn’t take a conservative to want serious criminal acts to result in serious criminal penalties, including incarceration.

As in San Francisco, crime and homelessness are top issues.

Throughout California, even within Democrat-on-Democrat races, the more moderate candidates seemed to be outperforming their more progressive counterparts, although many races remain too close to call.

Whether California’s election results represent a meaningful shift away from radical progressivism or merely a blip in the relentless leftward movement in California is the subject of a national debate. Even the New York Times wrote that the recall of Boudin was “a stark warning to the Democratic Party.”


  1. Many of us that are sticking around realize California is the utopia of America – Most all can list the reasons so many people have wanted to migrate to the state. Those now leaving are not leaving because of those reasons. They are leaving for political and financial reasons. When and if the dust settles there will be a return to an inbound migration – hopefully composed of those that take care of themselves rather than others that seek dependency.

    • TheRandyGuy says

      Net migration has been out of state for the last 11 years. The cost of living, the taxes, the one-party leftist rule, the crime, all of that continues to convince more people to leave than the great weather does to draw them in.

  2. Short answer…..NO!! Longer answer…, not as long as we still have democrats and voter fraud in this state, and in America, at large.

  3. Ms. Right says

    California is not a utopia…some think unicorns exist too.

    I weighed my options….stay in California and live in a house I could sell for a lot or work forever because of the cost of living, including bad roads making me change tires prematurely, expensive gas, poor government, my children leaving because they couldn’t afford the American dream in California, illegals getting more than most citizens, homeless people expanding to the suburbs, crime, lack of ability to protect my home/myself, well, should I go on or do people get the picture? I admire my like minded friends who stay and fight, but I left last month (after all, San Diego County is now run by a dem majority, got to love killing babies and making half the narrow roads into bike lanes). I have only so many years left, and I don’t need to be in a pretend ‘utopia’. I’m breathing clean air, have way more than I had in California and hopefully a good retirement unless the dems stay in charge federally and take it away. All my hope for Californian’s to obtain utopia…most people in California can’t afford it.

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