Could we be seeing buyers’ remorse? A USA Today/Suffolk University poll released Sunday shows a double-digit increase in the percentage of Americans who think the country is on the wrong track. In December it was 49%, and it has now jumped to 65%. While the pollster theorizes that this has to do with the Capitol riot and the second impeachment, it could just as easily be the insight we have gotten from the fictitious “Office of the President-Elect” and Joe Biden.
So far, everything presented looks suspiciously like a third term for Barack Obama. We have a looming border crisis, with caravans traveling from Central America to take advantage of Joe Biden’s promise of amnesty. The energy policies that will accompany reentering the Paris Climate Agreement will crush entire industries and raise energy prices. Biden’s picks for the State Department and Department of Justice also signal a return to leading from behind, with social justice masquerading as equal justice.
Those issues are just the beginning. The Los Angeles Times claims that California is center stage in Washington’s policy arena under a Biden administration—a state where they can’t keep the lights on, the middle class is disappearing, and there are record numbers of homeless people on the streets. Meanwhile, the residents pay some of the highest tax rates in the country—on energy and other goods and services—for the privilege of living in lawless cities.
California is emerging as the de facto policy think tank of the Biden-Harris administration and of a Congress soon to be under Democratic control. That’s rekindling past cliches about the state — incubator of innovation, premier laboratory of democracy, land of big ideas — even as it struggles with surging COVID-19 infections, a safety net frayed by the pandemic’s toll, crushing housing costs and wildfires, all fueling an exodus of residents.
There is no place the incoming administration is leaning on more heavily for inspiration in setting a progressive policy agenda.
The Californication of America is a terrifying thought. Tucker Carlson Tonight did a series called “American Dystopia” in January 2020, focusing on the shocking decline of quality of life in San Francisco. A police officer shared a startling list of crimes that have no consequences other than a possible citation. There is no prosecution for theft of goods or property damage unless it exceeds $950.
While the crew was interviewing an independent grocer, people filled their pockets on camera and walked out the door. A homeless man blocked the door and threatened the shop owner. There was also a startling amount of public drug use and using public places as a restroom. It is so bad that wealthy communities pay for private policing. The FBI placed the city at the top of the list for child sex trafficking.
According to Chapman University Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures Joel Kotkin, San Francisco is the driving force behind the state’s policy agenda. According to what he calls the “liberal gentry”—such as Governor Gavin Newsom and the oligarchs who are the very wealthy, mainly from the tech sector—the city is the model for society. It is wholly bifurcated with massive income inequality and it’s almost perfectly politically correct. The emphasis is on policies around gender, race, and the environment.
The middle class has all but disappeared, except for the few shop owners and restaurant owners that will survive pandemic lockdowns. However, they still have to deal with the homeless, who have the right to live on the street. Theft is rampant, and business owners clean up human waste and used needles from the entrances and exits of their buildings. A law called AB-5 also severely limited the ability of freelancers and independent contractors to earn a living.
Kotkin notes that many employers, such as service firms like McKesson and manufacturers like Toyota, that provided good middle-class jobs are gone. Several others, like Uber, Lyft, and Apple, are not building new facilities in the state. The oligarchs and the gentry can escape the outcomes of the policies they support with private security. The working poor and subsidized cannot.
Outmigration has been on the rise for some time and accelerated with the extended lockdowns due to the pandemic. An excellent question for the Biden administration would be: If the goal is the Californication of America, where do the rest of us move? According to the Times, the Biden administration is looking to adopt some of the most disastrous California policies. Specifically mentioned are high-speed rail, green energy, and the law even California voters hated enough to gut in the last election, AB-5.
Even Kotkin, whose self-described mentor was Michael Harrington, founder of the Democrat Socialist of America (DSA), sees California’s fatal flaw. He says democracy is dependent on a sizable middle class that can own property, form families, feel secure in their communities, and make their own decisions. He fears that without significant backlash against California’s Democrat trifecta, which has been co-opted by academia, the bureaucracy, and the oligarchs, it may be too late. California will look like a combination of Monaco and Venezuela with the trappings of democratic elections.
Let’s hope that if the Biden administration is drawing from California’s disastrous progressive policy portfolio, favored by the Squad and others, that in four years it won’t be too late for America.