California Dreamin'

Sunday, June 10, 2018
by Patrick Dorinson

We just had our primary election out here in California and while the results are known based on projections they are still counting votes.

Yes in the land of the geniuses who populate Silicon Valley who gave us Facebook, Google and now self driving cars, they can’t seem to figure out how to efficiently tally votes.

A few years ago the voters were hoodwinked into changing our primaries whereby the top two finishers regardless of party would face each other in the general election come November.

This ‘jungle primary” as it is now called was one of the legacies of former Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger who couldn’t stand California conservatives even though without their support he would never had become governor.

The muscle head turned politician and his highly paid consultants pushed the idea as a way to elbow aside the conservatives and get more “moderate” Republicans nominated and elected.

And other than making those same consultants richer, the result has not been more moderate Republicans. In many cases the races for statewide office shut Republicans out entirely.

A few months ago the conventional wisdom among the mainstream media and the pundits who pontificate on politics was that the race for California governor would come down to two Democrats.

Barrels of ink and gigabytes of computer code were spent dissecting how a race between Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa might play out and what it might mean for California Democrats.

The two Republican candidates, John Cox and Travis Allen, were treated as a sideshow that had about as much chance of advancing to the general election as the proverbial snowball in Hell.

More obituaries were written about the death of the GOP in California and how they had never recovered from Prop 187 passed in 1994 that denied certain state services to illegals.

Latino voters would never vote Republican again said this analysis and the only thing left to do was to shovel more dirt on the corpse of the Republican Party that gave us Ronald Reagan.

But the real reason Prop 187 passed was because the cost of dealing with illegal immigration was a real concern and the taxpayers wanted something done.

By the way that initiative passed 59% to 41% so it wasn’t just Republicans who supported it.

A recent story that was much hyped just before the primary was that the Republicans had dropped to only 25% of voter registration moving it just behind the voters who decline to state their party preference.

Another shovelful of dirt hit the GOP coffin with a thud.

But a few weeks ago polls started to reflect a change in the Democrat versus Democrat scenario in the race for governor.

Republican businessman John Cox slipped into second place against a fading Villaraigosa.

Then President Trump endorsed Cox. And while the President is as popular in California as Typhoid Mary, he does hold sway with the many Republicans who aren’t members of the consultant-lobbyist wing of the GOP headquartered in Sacramento.

Last Tuesday John Cox completed his improbable rise when he came in second and will now face Gavin Newsom the overwhelming favorite to become the next governor of California.

But looming behind all the horse race coverage is the biggest issue that has hit California in 40 years when the property tax revolt of 1978 shook the state and eventually the nation.

In 2017 the Politburo in Sacramento better known as the California Legislature passed an exorbitant increase in the gas tax and vehicle license fees that has begun to bite motorists hard.

The claim was that after decades of benign neglect we needed to fix our crumbling roads and make up for all the years of “deferred maintenance”.

When I hear the term “deferred maintenance” I want to know who the Hell is responsible for deferring it and why? And what did you do with the money that was supposed to go to maintenance?

We get no accounting for all the money we have been paying for many years that was supposed to go to maintaining our infrastructure.

We are simply told we need to pay more like it or not.

The lazy analysis on cable news from people back East who have no idea about California is that we won’t punish the Democrat politicians who are responsible for this disaster. But this has been on their watch and having been in power for a generation they are responsible.

And try as they might Democrats aren’t going to be able to make this a partisan issue to beat the Republicans over the head and they won’t be able to use their old playbook and make this an issue of race or ethnicity or even sexual orientation.

There are no gas tax exemptions for Latino or Black or Asian or LGBT Californians. Everybody pays.

It especially hitting those working Californians who must travel long distances to work since affordable housing near job centers is non-existent.

It is hitting the person who owns a landscaping business and must pay more for gas to run their lawnmowers, leaf blowers and weed whackers they use to trim the foliage of the well to do. Does he raise his prices or let a worker go so he can still turn a profit?

And it is hitting California agriculture and food prices since the farmer needs fuel for his equipment and the trucking industry that gets their products to markets both here and abroad.

I could go on and on but you get the idea.

Will this be enough to help John Cox score what would be the biggest political upset since Donald Trump?

I don’t know and neither do the so-called experts.

But I do know that the most significant election campaign on primary day was the recall of a little known State Senator Josh Newman in Southern California.

His sin? He voted for the gas tax increase. He lost by 18 points and was replaced by a Republican.

So here is your Cowboy Wisdom for the Week.

“Never say something can’t be done. Someone’s liable to interrupt you by doing it”.

There are plenty of Californians who are angry at the gas tax increase.

But their anger is not so much directed at the need for taxes to pay for roads. It is directed at the politicians who for years looted the gas tax money to pay for other pet projects as well as the lack of accountability.

So when you hear California Democrats boast about California’s global economic ranking remember that we are on earthquake away for becoming Venezuela with better beaches.

But the only earthquake we need is a political one.

For those of us with one foot out the door to greener pastures from the state we were born in, let’s hope John Cox will interrupt the status quo by doing it.

If not, to paraphrase Davy Crockett who said to the corrupt politicians of his native Tennessee, “They can all go to Hell! I’ll go to Texas!”, if Newsom is elected the corrupt politicians of California can all go to Hell. I will go to Idaho!