Thursday, November 04, 2010

The California Difference

After the resounding victory of Democrats for statewide offices in California, Senator Boxer's victory, as well as the imposition of a will contrary to that of Republicans on important propositions such as 23 and 25, commentators and analysts are asking about and analyzing the differences between California and the rest of the country.

To begin to explain the difference, let me begin by stating that California has finally elected an intelligent and well qualified Governor. Let us remember that when Arnold Schwarzenegger was first elected Governor, he was a right wing activist, would often say idiotic things, and had no political experience. I give him credit for learning on the job and transforming himself. He broke ranks with conservative Republicans, so much so, that during budget negotiations reporters would say that he acted more like a Democrat, than a Republican. The vast majority of bills that he signed into law, were written by Democrats, including the most historic and significant piece of legislation, for which he will be remembered, AB 32, which was written by Fran Pavley and Fabian Nuñez. California changed Arnold.

Then along comes Meg Whitman sounding exactly like the old Arnold used to, as the brilliant political ad below demonstrates. Since she had the same campaign director as Arnold did in 2003, Pete Wilson, it's not surprising. They were probably coached by the same people as well.

After 7 years of Arnold Schwarzenegger as Governor, 8 years of George Bush as President, and 2 years of Barack Obama as President, to whom can Californians attribute responsibility for the general economic downturn in California and the 12.4% unemployment rate? It should be obvious that a far more profound process is taking place, and the proposition that Meg Whitman was somehow uniquely qualified to turn things around for California and reduce the unemployment rate because of her experience as CEO of Ebay is ludicrous. For people who believed that, I have bridge I would like to sell them.

Jerry Brown on the other hand, is intelligent, visionary, and experienced. He is the best qualified candidate to be elected Governor in my lifetime.

The difference is that California is the most populous state in the nation, and has very large urban concentrations, such as Los Angeles county, and the San Francisco Bay Area. Our urban experience gives us a different insight. The premise upon which the Meg Whitman campaign was based on is an insult to my intelligence and, I'm sure, to the intelligence of millions of Los Angeles county and San Francisco Bay Area residents. Remove Los Angeles county and the San Francisco Bay Area from the equation, and California is surprisingly conservative.

To further explain the difference, one thing that I can state with certainty, and I believe the vast majority of Californians would agree with me, is that the American economy will never improve unless it reduces its radical oil dependence. Yet, I have never heard or read a single proposal formulated by a Republican that would do that. In fact, they take the opposite perspective, as exemplified by the motto many of them have adopted, "Drill, Baby, Drill," their willingness to act against the scientific consensus on important issues such as climate change, and the irrational and impractical position which is nearly universal among them, of being against any and all tax increases. In California, dozens of Republican state legislators even went as far as signing a pledge stating such opposition.

Such an irrational and impractical position would impede Republicans from ever funding the mass transit our society direly needs, yet the vast majority of the industrialized world has per capita oil consumption rates which are 40 to 60% below that of the United States, primarily due to mass transit.

There is a common perception that Republicans have trouble attracting Latino votes, particularly in California, with which I agree. However, there are those who point out that Republicans don't have trouble attracting Latino votes in Florida or Texas. We must acknowledge the very real differences that exist between the two largest latino groups in Florida and California, i.e. Cubans and Mexicans, but also that the population of Los Angeles county and the San Francisco Bay Area is larger than the entire population of Florida and is about 70 to 75% of the population of the entire state of Texas, depending on which statistics are used.

San Francisco, Los Angeles, we are a revolution! Onwards towards making mass transit the primary mode of transportation in the state and decriminalizing marijuana.

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