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A NEW HOPE: Joel Kotkin: Looking Beyond One-Party Rule In California.

It’s been a half century since Ronald Reagan shocked California, and the nation, by beating the late Pat Brown for governor by a million votes. Yet although the Republican Party is a shadow of its mid-20th century form, there are some clear signs that growing discontent — including among independents and many Democrats today — with the regime forged by Brown’s son Jerry, with which so many progressives are deeply enamored.

In 1966 Reagan used the term “Ya basta” (“Had enough?”) to tap on voter displeasure on issues from the Watts Riots, disturbances at Berkeley, resistance to growing state bureaucracy and elevated levels of taxation. As historian Gene Kopelson has suggested, Reagan even penetrated Mexican-American communities, winning a larger share of their traditionally solid Democratic vote than previous GOP candidates.

As in the 1960s, California’s economy appears relatively buoyant. Yet the state’s post-recession resurgence has been greatly skewed to one region — the Bay Area — and benefited a relatively small group of people. The rest of the state largely has stagnated economically, with no appreciable income growth adjusted for costs. With weakness in higher-paying blue- and white-collar sectors, three out of five Californians express dissatisfaction with the current economic “boom,” as well as the rampant growth of inequality in the state.

Even in the Bay Area, there has been a surge in homelessness, and reduced incomes for Latinos and African Americans. Rather than an engine of upward mobility for locals, the tech economy workforce is made up of over 40 percent non-citizens, many not much better than indentured servants. Housing prices are now out of reach even for Google engineers; roughly three-quarters of millennials in the Bay Area are considering an exit, largely due to unaffordable housing.

Similarly, young people in Los Angeles, notes a recent UCLA survey, are the most dissatisfied with life in the Basin. Poverty in South L.A. remains as intractable today as it was at the time of the 1992 riots. The Central Valley and the Inland Empire remain economically distressed, with elevated levels of poverty and a lack of good paying jobs.

As another famous man once said, what have they got to lose?