It finally happened. After 22 years in Los Angeles — 13 on its West Side — I threw half my life into boxes, the other half into dumpsters, and returned to my native Arizona. It wasn’t a decision I had been pondering for very long. After the first of the year I began to kick the idea around rather casually, then a few things fell into place quite unexpectedly and, by the middle of January, getting out seemed like the only logical thing to do.
Emotionally, it was a different story. I love California. More specifically, I love Los Angeles. There have been many people I’ve known both in and out of the entertainment industry who seemed to be working on an exit plan as soon as they arrived in L.A. They were regret-free when they did get out, which was usually sooner rather than later. Not me, I loved the city the second I moved there and knew I’d found an adopted hometown.
My time in California may have begun solely because I was an entertainer. However, I had always been politically active too and my years there saw my most intense activism. Alas, I was perhaps focusing too much on national issues when I should have been throwing some effort behind keeping my home state from rushing headlong off of a progressive cliff.
Some of my efforts actually were spent at home. While so many conservatives in California were longing to get to more politically friendly states, I was relentlessly advocating for staying and fighting. States that were already electing conservatives and/or Republicans didn’t need more conservatives there, I maintained. It was the places in America that were becoming liberal wastelands that were in need of some opposition voices.
It was a pitch that could have been applied to any number of states, but I meant it for California. I don’t care what the libs do to the likes of New York, Chicago, or the Pacific Northwest. Let the progressive loons have cities and states that are already cold, wet and miserable.
But, as I often asked audiences, why should we let them have a place as glorious as California?
Apparently, no one was listening.
When the Democrats gained a super-majority stranglehold on the California legislature, they didn’t waste any time letting their far-left freak flag fly. As soon as some bills were floated, then passed, people began asking me in private and in public interviews about the legislative madness issuing forth from Sacramento.
I thought most of it was boilerplate liberal lunacy that wouldn’t stand up to any strict legal scrutiny, which made me shrug it off.
Last summer, however, the extent of the lunacy started to really come into focus and made it more difficult to keep at arm’s length.
The far-left progressive Democrats in the California Assembly went to war with their still quite left “moderate” Democratic colleagues for not being fully on board with a single-payer health care bill that was problematic, to say the least.
This escalated quickly, which led to an effort to recall Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, who, by the way, is progressive.
Not progressive enough though, it would seem.
Rendon is a proponent of single-payer health care. His only objection to the bill in question was its funding, which was practically nonexistent.
Now firmly in the grip of the super majority, California politics had devolved into an ideological battle between the far left and people who think Fidel Castro was too conservative.
Forget hoping that moderate Republicans would have a voice in Sacramento, the moderate Democrats didn’t even have a chance.
It was at this point that I began to wonder if the two progressive factions had pulled California’s political center so far to the left that it could never be brought back to a sane place on the spectrum. In years past, I would dream of a day when control of the state would return to the adults and there would be a huge correction. The lawmakers in Sacramento were letting me know that it was just that: a dream.
The legislative madness of 2017 was bad enough, but the state hit full “hold my beer” mode in 2018.
One Democratic legislator actually proposed fining wait staff in restaurants for offering plastic straws to customers. Ian Calderon, the legislator behind this, isn’t some newbie back-bencher who is trying to make a name for himself, he is currently the assembly’s majority leader.
The only people who aren’t rich who seem to be moving to California from other parts of the United States are young, idealistic people who want to be in the entertainment industry. They usually get jobs in bars and restaurants when they arrive.
The Democrats now want to make their lives more miserable.
That idea is the kind of thing that makes people from other parts of America see all of California as a literal lunatic fringe of the continental U.S. It’s too insane to worry about because it probably won’t ever come to be.
It was when the state’s attorney general said he would prosecute hard-working citizens who were providing jobs if they obeyed the law that I began to take a serious look at how far away from me California had drifted.
We’d never been a good fit politically. I used to live in Maxine Waters’ district. I went from there to Henry Waxman’s. My senators were Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, who was then succeeded by Kamala Harris.
Put very mildly, I wasn’t feeling very well represented in this country that is supposed to be a representative republic.
It was then that I began to ponder a return to the desert.
As many have pointed out, the politics in my hometown (Tucson) aren’t much better than California’s, which is true. However, the governor here is great and, with any luck, we will be getting an upgrade from Jeff Flake soon. Also, it’s easier to fight for some change in a medium-size city than in the most populous state in the union.
Most importantly, I don’t feel fire-breathing hatred from the state capital.
It’s quite refreshing.
I still love you, California, but you’re hanging around with some really awful people.
Call me when they’re gone.