This year, California's deficit suddenly disappeared (thanks partly to voters hiking income taxes on the rich), we raised the minimum wage, made undocumented immigrants eligible for drivers' licenses and law licenses, and passed new gun control measures. Well, not suddenly, really. You see, voters in last year's elections in California cleaned out a certain political party. Having lost all of the statewide constitutional offices in 2010 (yeah, while the rest of the country was busy giving power to the GOP, we cleaned their clock here), they also lost their last leverage in state politics in 2012 - as voters gave Democrats a two-thirds majority in both houses of the state legislature, Republicans lost their last refuge to stop certain legislation.
While a lot of people would like to tell you that California has always been a liberal bastion, this was a fairly rapid turnaround. Just a decade ago, in 2003, Californians recalled a Democratic governor, and put in a popular Republican movie star in his place, who then won a big re-election in 2006. Some of the most ardent wingbat conservatives in Congress hail from California (ahem, Darrell Issa), as did GOP's patron saint Ronald Reagan.
And so, California Republicans met for their convention in Anaheim this weekend, irrelevant as they are, and stuck between the the wingbat Tea Party conservatives and others who actually hope to win a statewide election in the state ever again. But California's dramatic shift has happened because of some factors that are coming to the rest of America.
First, demography is destiny. California is not only a minority majority state, with Hispanics now equaling the Anglo population in the state, but we are also one of the most diverse. Our ethnic composition spans Anglos, Latinos, Asians, Native Americans, African Americans, and nearly everything else you can think of.
The Republicans began their long decline with the state's minority population with Pete Wilson and Proposition 187, which outlawed undocumented immigration from using state services, including outlawing children from going to school. It took a Democratic governor in 1999 to stop the appeals after a federal court overturned the law. Republicans didn't learn their lesson though, as the following Republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger turned back a Gray Davis era law to grant drivers' licenses to undocumented immigrants.
Immigration wasn't the only issue Republicans fell on the wrong side of in our diverse state. Californians actually believe in personal liberty, and that means the GOP gobbledy-gook on abortion doesn't fly here. We're the state that beat back two consecutive ballot initiatives on parental consent/notification for abortions, and we enacted the Freedom of Choice Act, guaranteeing access to legal and safe abortions even if Roe is overturned.
While conservatives succeeded for a while in their propaganda campaign against marriage equality in the state, Californians now support marriage equality by a 22-point margin, 58% to 36%. We don't particularly care for the social dogma of the religious Right any more than we buy into the NRA's pretzel-dance on guns. In case it isn't clear, there is one political entity Californians hate more than the GOP, and it's the NRA.
See, there is the thing. Californians are diverse, believe in equality and the right to personal liberty, and are believers that the rich can afford to pay a little more in taxes while we also tighten our belt. None of the GOP's talking points sell here: we don't like their racism, their homophobia, or their economic policies.
This is where America is headed. The country is a little behind, but by 2050, there will be no ethnic majority group in America, and the Republican tactics to appeal to white racism and scapegoating everyone else has already cost them two presidential elections. As Americans grow more diverse, we are also growing more accepting of equality for everyone, and women are already taking their wrath out on Republicans for their 19th century policies on women' rights.
We are already rebuking the Republican party nationwide for their choice to become a racist, homophobic, anti-woman party. Imagine when the diversity spreads. Already, Republicans are in danger of losing Texas - yes, Texas within a decade if not sooner. They can gerrymander, they can try to suppress the vote, but ultimately, Republicans are living a fantasy if they think they can win the fight with demographics.
And that's what's freaking them out. The Tea Party is often viewed as a racist outgrowth of the GOP as a result of the election of a Black president. But it is really a reaction to what the election of a Black president represents: a country slipping away from their version of America and becoming more accepting, more tolerant, and more liberal.
The Tea Party and the "clothcoat" Republicans are afraid of the same thing: California. They're afraid the nation will follow California's lead and make them irrelevant. That they will, forever, lose "their" America. Where the divide comes in is between the Tea Partiers who want to destroy that America to "rebirth" it in their image and those Republicans who realize that if they are to remain a viable national party, they better learn from California Republicans and work on appealing to the new demographics.
And, as Bill Maher said, their fear is entirely justified. We're California, and we're a liberal democratic fagtopia that will bring you with us, America.
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