Sliding Into the Ocean: California Republican's Can't Stop Digging
If you think election day 2018 was a blue wave across the nation, it really was a blue tsunami in California. It is now popularly known that the Republicans lost half of their US House seats in California and will be representing just seven of California’s 53 Congressional districts next year. Seats in the Republican stronghold of Orange County fell one by one.
What is not known as well is that Republicans received just as much of a beating in the state offices. Not only did Democrats win all statewide offices - along with Governor-elect Gavin Newsom becoming the first Democrat to win Orange County in 40 years - Republicans lost 5 seats in the California Assembly, and 3 in the State Senate. Next year, Democrats will control 60 out of 80 seats in the Assembly, and Republicans will barely be hanging onto double digits in the upper chamber, with just 11 Senators to Democrats’ 29.
Seeing all this, the outgoing chair of the California GOP - which according to Politico is still the country’s largest state Republican party (go figure) - warned that Republicans’ endangered state in the golden state is an indicator of things to come for the national Republican party, and that the revival of California GOP is impossible if the party does not abandon its white nationalist posture.
I’d say the GOP Chair’s epiphany is not just too little and too late, it is also false. The problem Republicans have in California is not that they have not been able to effectively communicate with non-white voters. In fact, the case is much more clear that the Republicans have in fact communicated their true nature with non-white voters, and that this clarity is at the center of their demise in the country’s largest economy.
Nevertheless, Sen. Brutle is actually delivering an important message to his party: the GOP faces eventual irrelevance in national politics, much like what they have faced in California, if they cannot reverse their image as racist, white-nationalist, xenophobic reactionaries pining to preserve white privilege. Although it is hard to imagine a California style wipeout of the racist Right while the electoral college still exists and while the Senate continues to give each Wyoming resident 70 times the voice each Californian gets, this year’s elections have made clear that an increasingly diverse electorate is willing to be heard. Despite his sugarcoating, Brutle is correct in his analysis that Republicans face a cold future should their party continue to follow the formula that produced Donald Trump.
The good news for Democrats is that the candidates for leadership of the California GOP going forward are in no mood to pay attention to the truth. Influential Republicans - inside of California and out - are happily whistling the Trump talking point that illegal voting, rather than Republican racism, is the cause for their route in the state. A Democratic strategist warned that if Republicans failed to heed Brutle’s advice, the party is at risk of “sliding in to the ocean”, the top candidates for CA-GOP’s chairmanship seem intent on an oceanbound journey. One candidate - the failed primary competitor and Trumpophile Travis Allen - even insists that California Republicans do a better job of attaching themselves to Individual-1.
Republicans simply cannot fathom the idea that voters - California voters, American voters - are rejecting their hateful ideology. So they are going to the ends of the earth to create and indulge in the self-delusion that their loss is because they didn’t hug their bigoted brethren enough, or that the voters themselves are illegitimate. They will not admit the fact that the California Republican party’s sad state of affairs has been twenty years in the making since Proposition 187 attacking immigrants, and that it has been fully manifest for the last decade.
For the sake of a healthy democratic process based on a diversity of ideas, I would actually prefer the rebirth of a Republican party with a revival of the original Republican principles of civil rights, conservation, and enterprise. That way, we can, as a country, have an honest debate about the proper role of government.
But as a partisan, I’d be lying if I said I am not having evil laughs at the hope that the Republicans follow Travis Allen right into the ocean.
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