Why Are Republicans Embracing Surrender in California?

AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

After the results of the California recall election came in, I began noticing a disturbing trend among conservative influencers on social media. Since the recall effort did not succeed, some of these individuals are advocating for full and total surrender to the far-left progressive machine in California and urging conservatives to leave the state.

Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro took to Twitter shortly after it became clear that Gov. Gavin Newsom would be keeping his job. He wrote:

The failure of the CA recall is a reminder to Republicans still in the state: the decline is now inexorable. Get out while the getting is good, and move to a purple or red state. Your life will radically improve.

Director and producer Robby Starbuck also chimed in. He tweeted:

California Republicans: It’s time to move and let the state continue to decline. If you all moved to swing states they’d become permanent red states where we’d be unbeatable in national elections. Let Dems destroy CA and make them come crawling back after they fully destroy it.

Conservative commentator John Cardillo also advocated for waving the white flag:

Conservatives and every other freedom loving American need to leave California.

Let those who did whatever they did to keep him get what they deserve.

These are only a few of those insisting that conservatives should roll over and flee from the battle. Several others echoed these sentiments.

I’ll be blunt: This is a horrible idea.

For starters, there were very clear reasons why the recall effort did not succeed. My colleague Jennifer O’Connell lays some of them out here, and Managing Editor Jennifer Van Laar shares her thoughts here.

However, at least earlier in the process, polls were showing that the movement to remove Newsom had gained quite a bit of steam. The petition to push for a recall vote gathered a record number of signatures. Even though it was always a long shot, there were indications that it could possibly succeed. The fact that it also attracted Democrats is also an indication that, if effectively organized, conservative-leaning voters in California can make a difference.

The “abandon ship” mentality has cost the Republican Party dearly in the past. Those banging the drum of surrender sound much like Barry Goldwater did back in the 1960s when he said the GOP should no longer try to reach black voters and “go hunting where the ducks are.” He effectively stuck a dagger in the heart of Republican outreach to the black community by arguing that the party could not win a significant number of black voters.

We cannot afford to allow the same mistake to be made when it comes to California and other supposedly “unwinnable” areas. The issue isn’t the reality that the left has a stranglehold on these areas that is impossible to break. The issue is that the Republican Party has been feckless. It has chosen to avoid making concerted efforts in areas that are “too hard” to campaign in.

This isn’t to say that there are not many conservative individuals who are willing to fight. There were thousands of people involved in the recall effort. But overall, the GOP’s leadership has not bothered to pour resources into turning blue areas purple or red.

Indeed, the Democrats sent Vice President Kamala Harris and other high-profile Democratic politicians to come out in support of Newsom.

Who did Republicans send?

Exactly my point.

We don’t lose because the left is some all-powerful leviathan. We lose because we don’t fight smart. In many instances, we don’t fight at all. The GOP has become accustomed to campaigning only in areas in which they can win fairly easily.

Unfortunately, the Democrats do not have this same mentality. How often have you seen left-leaning influencers make a concerted effort to persuade Democratic voters living in red states to flee to New York or California?

Even further, how often have we seen Democrats insist they should only try to compete for voters in blue or purple areas? Not very often. The left is not afraid to enter into regions where they know they might lose over the short term because they know if they keep putting effort into it, they can begin making inroads even in red states.

Let’s not forget what happened in Georgia. Those two Senate seats did not go to Democrats overnight. It was a concerted effort on the part of failed gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and her team that took almost a decade to achieve – and they are not stopping. If Republicans don’t figure out how to stop the Democrats, they will only gain more momentum.

Also, we have to remember the 2018 midterms. While many believe Texas is a solidly red state, I almost had to call fake Hispanic Beto O’Rourke my senator. To put it simply, the Democrats are working night and day to flip Republican-leaning states. They will not succeed overnight, and they know it. But they also understand is that this type of endeavor is a marathon, not a sprint. They are content with making gradual gains while the Republicans just want to do what is easy.

Those advocating for surrender in California don’t realize that Democrats will never give up on trying to flip states like Georgia and Texas. They will keep fighting until they win. Republicans need a major paradigm shift in their thinking if they want to remain relevant. They must be willing to go where they haven’t gone before. They have to possess the perseverance to fight even when they are the underdog. Many of us worry about how aggressively the left is pushing for a radical “progressive” shift. But Republicans will not be able to affect positive change until they realize surrender is not an option.