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The PJ Tatler

by
Bryan Preston

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August 19, 2013 - 9:15 am

We have two large states going in very different directions that should serve as models for everyone else. California has become known for its anti-business and anti-energy attitudes, and its unemployment is correspondingly high; Texas is aggressively pro-business and leads just about every list of the best states to do business; its unemployment rate is several points lower than California’s. California is nearly bankrupt as its big government model saddles this generation with onerous taxes and future generations with too much debt; Texas keeps its tax rates low and its regulatory environment fair and predictable, and remains strong. Looking at the Republican parties in both states, the California GOP has abandoned the conservative Reagan model in favor of Schwarzenegger-style Democrat-lite policies including amnesty for illegal aliens, while the Texas GOP sticks to solid conservative principles and advocates a secure border along with rational policies to take into account people whose parents brought them into the country illegally. It’s more Reagan than Reagan’s own state party. The California GOP is all but dead, while the Texas GOP continues to flourish and dominate.

It’s fascinating that wherever the Republican Party stands strong while articulating its conservative principles clearly, it tends to succeed, while where it tends to water itself down and mimic the Democrats, it fails. This is true from Louisiana to Texas to Oklahoma to Wisconsin, all over the map, even in traditionally blue states.

Why, then, does the California GOP think that the answer to its own near demise is for the rest of the GOP to do what they’re doing? Just from a purely logical perspective, it makes no sense to expect anything but failure when you imitate failure. There’s no arguing that the current California GOP is anything but a failure.

“All our polling shows immigration is the fourth- or fifth-most-important issue to Hispanic voters,” said Teresa Hernandez, who heads an immigration task force for the active Orange County Lincoln Club. “It’s one of those gateway issues: we want to speak to the Hispanic community on things that we agree on: education reform and jobs. But we need to get immigration off the table.”

As they say on Mythbusters, there’s your problem right there. Immigration is never, ever going to be “off the table.” Ever. No bill or law will ever take it off the table for good. The 1986 amnesty was supposed to do that, but didn’t. Subsequent “reforms” were supposed to do it, but didn’t. We will always, always have immigration as an issue. The border will always be an issue, sanctuary cities will always be an issue, security will always be an issue, visa overstays will always be an issue, etc and so forth. Immigration will always be a live issue, on the table, from now to the first minute after a new bill is passed, and beyond, forever.

Once you realize that, then your view of how to handle it as an issue changes. You can’t truly take it off the table but you can do good things that don’t water down the meaning of citizenship or give those who break the law unfair advantages. First, you’ll realize that the Democrats always want it to be a live issue because they want it as a weapon against Republicans. Whatever is passed, Democrats will immediately say it’s not enough, and they’ll push for something else to put Republicans on defense. From knowing that will flow ideas for how to handle the issue and put Democrats on the defensive. Do Democrats really want any particular reform, or are they just pushing a particular thing for the political advantage it gives them? Do they really want to do anything about securing our communities, for instance, or are they pretending to favor security so they can get something that they want first?

The California GOP isn’t even asking those questions. It’s looking at the issue entirely wrong. It’s demanding that the national party and state parties do something that is killing the GOP in California right now. Like many Republicans all over the country, it’s making an error at the beginning of its thinking on immigration, and from that flow nothing but errors down the line. Only an idiot would listen to them and not take into account the GOP’s experience in Texas, so of course, I expect that an awful lot of Republicans will do just that.

Bryan Preston has been a leading conservative blogger and opinionator since founding his first blog in 2001. Bryan is a military veteran, worked for NASA, was a founding blogger and producer at Hot Air, was producer of the Laura Ingraham Show and, most recently before joining PJM, was Communications Director of the Republican Party of Texas.

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Candidates should be qualified for the office sought and not just rely on the party brand to be nominated.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
"You want immigration of the table? Fine, it's off the table -- we won't discuss it, and we won't bring anything about it to a House vote. Now, let's talk about the issues where you and I already agree..."
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
What you say is correct, but I'm not sure that it makes any difference. California's GOP, if it stood "strong" as you suggest, probably would be an even smaller minority. This state is populated by people (in the cities anyway) who read the word "Republican" as synonymous with "racist" and it's probably impossible, if not very hard, to change that. The buzz among various Democrats that you talk with around town is that the tax increase Brown passed (via referendum) "worked". It'll be several years before it becomes obvious that the legislature is going to overspend and wind up squandering whatever short-term gain Brown got from it; when it doesn't pay the bills, most of the Democratic Party will start yelling about how rich people don't pay their fair share. The weird thing, of course, is that most of those rich people *are* Democrats. However, the taxes that get increased mostly hit small businesses and their owners. If they ever raise taxes on celebrities enough that they move to Texas, I think the guys in Sacramento will finally figure out that they made a mistake.

I keep hearing this idea that the voters, if they're given the choice between a Liberal and a "True Conservative" will come out and elect the latter, voting in droves. I don't really think it's the case; in my estimation it's a good way for the Republican Party to continue the long slide into irrelevancy that it's been on for years. Part of the problem at the state level is that people, especially the educated ones, will know how a particular party runs local government when it has the chance. Republicans have run Orange County for decades: it had an awesome meltdown financially before the housing bubble collapse where they lost hundreds of millions if not billions in lost investments, and they had repeated problems with a corrupt Sheriff a few years ago, with everything from suspect contracts going to political contributors to bribery accusations on which he was ultimately convicted and sent to prison. Yes, Los Angeles isn't any better, but it's also not any worse, and your average Dem will say that at least they're trying to address issues of "racial justice." They never get any thing done, and often make things worse, but at least they're trying, is the argument.

Thing is, what's to be done? At this point, if the state of California were run on fiscally conservative principles, tomorrow, the result would probably be catastrophic. We've got tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of bureaucrats in this state who've spent their whole lives working in state government in one capacity or another. In the jobs they're in now, they take long lunches, do a mediocre job (often times anyway), and can't be fired even if they beat up a coworker or steal the furniture in the office. If you turned them out into the real world, how many of them would survive in the wild? It'd be like releasing zoo animals back into their natural habitat...most would be gone in a few years, because in the real world the rules are different. We'd wind up paying their health care, retirement, and probably some sort of welfare also; and the state's unemployment rate, as you noted in the article, is already high.

I think California's screwed. It's going to go bankrupt at some point: everything the legislature does between now and then is rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic, and the Republicans are just arguing with the Dems (and mostly losing) about how they should be arranged. The big issue is whether California takes the rest of the country with it. My understanding is that both New York and Illinois are in similar straits (by some accounts Illinois is actually worse). How is it going to work when the Feds try and raise taxes only in Texas (because California can't afford them) to pay pensioners in California? I have to think that won't go over too well in the Lone Star State.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
"There’s no arguing that the current California GOP is anything but a failure."


That's been true for a long, long time. Our last reasonably good governor was George Deukmejian, who was not popular with the Establishment, and he was followed by the darling of the Establishment, the execrable Pete Wilson. His idiocy set the stage for the election of the laughable (in a sad way) Gray Davis, who was too horrible even for the Dems, and that got us (with MUCH help from the Establishment) The Governator. Then back to Moonbeam.

The California GOP Establishment never fights harder than when undermining true conservatives (like Tom McClintock, et. al), and never met a compromise they didn't love.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
We can only heal by making the wound bigger!
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
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