The Revolt of Democratic California


#Resist is not waiting for CalExit to get the 585,000 signatures to put the question on the 2018 ballot.

Hillary Clinton carried California by 4,269,000 votes in the 2016 presidential election; Donald Trump carried the rest of the country by 1,401,000 votes. Trump’s major initiatives on immigration and the environment are anathema to the drivers of the overwhelming success of the Democratic Party in California. It is no surprise that California Democrats are fighting back in every way possible.


Within their current power over state policy:

– When the Trump administration talked of relaxing the federal 2025 standard of cars and light trucks averaging 54 miles per gallon, the California Air Quality Board – which enjoys a waiver from the federal standards – unanimously adopted the requirement for California. Since 12 other states tie their requirements to the California standard, and the manufacturers need one standard, this was essentially “check”.

– With Attorney General Jeff Sessions threatening to punish “sanctuary cities”, California Senate Leader Kevin DeLeon has shepherded a bill making California a “sanctuary state” – limiting the ability of local law enforcement to cooperate with federal immigration authorities. Less onerous than cities like San Francisco, the bill exempts the state Department of Corrections, and makes exceptions for various felonies.

By changing the presidential election dynamic:

For the last two presidential election cycles, under state legislation accepted by both parties, California has fallen late in the presidential primary calendar. The result: small states in the Midwest, the Northeast, and the South have a major impact in shaping the dynamics of the presidential campaigns – both the candidates and the issues – and California has functioned merely as an ATM.  For all of its size, diversity, and economic leadership, California is an afterthought.


–  No more.  The legislature is on the cusp of moving the state’s presidential primary from June to March for 2020, immediately after the New Hampshire, Iowa, and South Carolina contests. With expensive media markets and fully one tenth of the delegates needed for nomination, the heavyweights of both parties will compete here, and it will be immensely more difficult for the idiosyncratic voters of Waterloo, Dixon Notch, and Myrtle Beach to garner national attention and propel a candidate from obscurity in the anticipated crowded Democratic field.

– Self interest is also involved. As the Democratic legislature and governor contemplate the change, there has never been a Democratic presidential candidate  from the West. At least two rising stars – Senator Kamala Harris and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti understand the benefit of being a “favorite son” (or “favorite daughter”) in the most important early primary.  Visions of sugarplums dance in their heads.

By maximizing their monopoly on power in Sacramento:

In the 2016 legislative elections (with the Hillary landslide) the Democrats won enough seats to exceed the two-thirds majority needed in the Assembly and the Senate to pass tax increases or change legislative operating rules. And they have.

–  In March they passed a $5.2 billion tax increase on gasoline, diesel, and vehicle fees- on top of what was already the second highest rate in the country. Proceeds are designated for state and local maintenance efforts, with a planned constitutional amendment on the ballot in 2018 to prevent the legislature from diverting the funds to other purposes – as they have with “cap and trade” funds.


– In July they extended Schwartznegger-era  “cap and trade” legislation to 2030 with a commitment to reduce emissions by 40%, taxing utilities and manufacturers with the funds to be used for all sorts of projects loosely connected to carbon emission abatement. Support for the bill cost Republican Assembly leader Chad Mayes his job.

– In July the Senate even passed a $400 billion “single payer” healthcare plan with no deductibles, no co-pays, no lifetime caps, free dental, free vision, free long term care, and no allowance for private or federal government insurance. Fortunately, this was “a bridge too far”, and the Democratic Assembly leader refused to take up the bill which had not identified a revenue source. The Bernie Sanders wing of the party went crazy, but will have his national proposal to get behind.

And for those who do not believe the “power corrupts” adage, there is ample proof:

– The initiative passed by the voters in 2016 which requires that all legislation be published “in its final form” at least 72 hours in advance (to prevent the practice of last minute “gut and change”) has been ignored by the Assembly on at least 95 occasions. .

– When the gas tax increase led to a successful recall petition against a junior Democratic senator in Orange County, the legislature retroactively changed the procedures for signature gathering to allow a 30 day right to rescind, require a cost estimate, and extend the effort necessary to validate signatures. Since a successful recall in the traditionally Republican district would cost them their two-thirds majority, the courts will decide when and if there will ever be an election.


Californians like to think of themselves as the harbingers of things to come.  The California Democrats were on “single payer” before Bernie Sanders was. In 2020 they plan to take the lead in picking the first Democratic president from the West. Perhaps the other 49 states would be better off with CalExit.

—– – 9/15/2017




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