It is round two of the pundits shouting that it is over for the GOP forever. The first round was in 2008. The pundits glossed over the Tea Party wave election of 2010 and trumpeted the slim 2012 Obama win + Senate holds by the Dems. At this point, the GOP has pissed away six or seven seats. No one mentioned that the GOP house only lost three seats. How did we get to where we are today with regards to national elections for president? The book Nixonland tried to paint the current state of politics as a product of Nixon’s Southern Strategy, but that feels like projection of liberal race baiting for votes. On twitter, the Baseball Crank mentioned how the elections between ’68-’88 were either GOP blowouts or close losses while elections between ’92-2012 were either Dem blowouts or close losses. There is an easy reason for explaining the switch in election outcomes: California. Look up California’s governorship history. You’ll see more GOP governors (and years under governorship) since 1960 than Democrats (4 vs. 3, 31 of 52 years). It would be stupid to exclude the economic regulatory and taxation changes that made California a toxic site for business creation that sent middle class, white GOP voters to the Mountain states, but post-’88 California still had moments where it flirted with the GOP. It’s not economics. The Democrats’ social engineering changed California, and forever changed America’s presidential elections.
The transformation was not an overnight process, and it involved all levels of government as well as cathedral input. The McCarthy-Nixon hard line, anti-communist rhetoric made Americans worry about communist fellow travelers in their midst and proved effective at the ballot box. The socialist prized prey, the USA + all its natural resource wealth, would have to wait because of those pesky American businessmen, Midwest populists, and that bastard Nixon. Eisenhower won back to back elections in the ’50s, and the GOP slowly built an identity after their massacre during the FDR/Truman years. Along with the post-WW2 economic boom, some states subsidized their public universities like California and the ground was being laid for welfare programs. The backlash to welfare and government spending was building by the 1966 California election when Reagan came out of nowhere to beat incumbent Pat Brown. Brown wanted to face Reagan as he considered him easier to beat and a goof. After losing, Brown said (paraphrased), “I gave Californians a lot of free stuff and they booted me out?”. Brown may have lost that battle, but his side won the war.
Pat Brown’s programs never died, requiring tax hikes and funding forever which crush business creation. Once in office, Reagan had to raise taxes to cover Brown’s programs, because he couldn’t kill them due to the legislature. Brown’s expansion of the California university programs made it possible to funnel more kids through the UC system, spreading socialist ideas to greater numbers of younger minds. Boomers entering colleges in the ’60s definitely absorbed enough socialist ideas, as UC-Berkeley became a synonym for radical political activism. The media’s love affair with free love helped spread relationship dysfunction, showing up in the rise of illegitimacy. I’m all for free love if people have to be accountable for their actions, but free love + the welfare state = millions of fatherless kids who eat because of taxpayer robbery. Weird how nearly free birth control, legalized abortions, and no shame premarital sex did not create a utopia for women but instead, a hell hole where men are averse to marriage, 3400 abortions happen daily, 41% of kids are born to single moms and women are relatively less happy compared to men than before the revolution. Free love! In 1969, Reagan signed into law the California divorce law reform. No fault divorce hit California, and the financial rewards were pretty rich for lower earning spouses (guess who?). California’s alimony system combined with no fault divorce did wonders for female empowerment, as well as create new voters dependent on ‘rights’ (lifestyles) enforced by the state. Social change would come to California, preparing the future voting pool of single moms for the Democrats. The other future voting pool that would shape California and the USA was birthed at roughly the same time.
California also saw a drastic change in its complexion as the US passed an Immigration Reform bill in 1965 that loosened immigration rules for the first time in forty years. The US public was against this by wide margins but were conned into it as LBJ and other politicians said it would not alter the cultural make up of America. The US has never recovered. The problem with the bill is linked to the expansion of the UC system and welfare programs at the federal level, which California padded and loosened for illegals through the years. If the immigration program was abused or poorly administered, a physical way to deal with it would be strict enforcement of laws and deportation. During the post-WW2 economic boom, Mexican immigration engulfed the American Southwest. In 1954, Eisenhower executed “Operation Wetback“, and deported tens of thousands and influencing hundreds of thousands of Mexican illegals to leave the US. Enough time had passed from 1954 to 1984 (when the Mexican immigration was noticed nationwide) that performing an operation like “Operation Wetback” would be politically impossible. The media would paint it as racist, and the university system would have influenced just enough voters that they would agree it was racist, therefore evil, and vote it down or against candidates promising strict enforcement. California voted for Pete Wilson who promised tougher treatment of illegals, but the waves of immigration and anchor babies would eventually turn the tide. How could Californians battle immigration if the federal authorities would not enforce the rules and claimed it part of their rights? Even today, Alabama deported illegals and was pressured on it, while Indiana couldn’t get a similar bill in the works without the media bringing up Indiana’s 1920s KKK past. California is the key though due to their unique border, richer benefits for illegals and good living + economic opportunity for Mexican immigrants.
The California chess match had its checkmate move in the mid-80s. I cited 1984 above because after Reagan’s re-election, the GOP made a blunder that sealed the deal. The amnesty of 1986 opened a Pandora’s box. Instead of performing a clear out like Eisenhower did, the GOP first submitted a bill, which Reagan signed into law, that provided amnesty and set off the California Mexican baby boom and more immigration. Maybe it was for votes? Didn’t work for the GOP with Hispanics in ’88. Maybe it was for more cheap labor for elites? I’m open to that idea. Maybe it was because US elites considered low income Mexicans easier to control than unruly low class whites (meth) and blacks (crack)? I believe this. What it did start was a reaction by California voters and future Gov. Wilson to curb benefits for illegals. It also created the precedent that the US amnesty (forgive) law breakers rather than punish them. The transition within a nation from Roman virtues to Christian virtues is fully on display there. No national leader talks of an Eisenhower type program, but instead always bring up paths to citizenship. It also enabled the switch that shapes our elections today.
The GOP’s big wins and close losses from ’52-’88 were caused by the alliance of Northern + Western business interests with Dixiecrats. The students for a democratic society even cited this alliance as a reason to infiltrate and change the Democrats. The anchor to the GOP’s success was California. The GOP carried California in all of those elections except the LBJ-Goldwater “JFK the Martyr” election of ’64. Since 1992, the GOP has not carried California poorly timed as California’s electoral vote total has increased. This tracks well with the thought that ’92-’12 has seen big Democrat wins or tight Democrat losses. It was not just losing 40 EVs that hurt the GOP, but losing 40 plus the EV growth over time (CA now worth 55 EVs). The extra 15 EVs are a juicy swing state like Virginia or a set fo smaller ones like New Hampshire, Iowa and Nevada. When a Democrat runs for president, they can count on 237 EVs in the bank. It makes getting to an EV majority much easier. California not being purple means fewer resources devoted to CA by both sides, and less defense required for the Democrats because their core is bigger. With the drift of the white vote more and more towards the GOP, how hard would it be for a Democrat to win the presidency if they started with 182 core EVs and had to win a purple California (with a functioning GOP party infrastructure) that was 80% white? Look at the California exit polls for 2004. The social engineering at universities and welfare benefits might twist enough white voters the Democrat way, but it’d be close. The important part would be Democrats spending millions in California that it could not devote to swing states.
I do not think the GOP is ‘done’. I do think that it might be getting close if they can’t figure out how to unlock the “Big 10” area from Democrat control due to demographic changes with the rise of single moms, children of single moms and Hispanics as pieces of the voting population. As Nate Silver bemoans the lack of elastic voters, he should admit that minorities just aren’t elastic. Gone are the days when a Republican could win California. The Governator was a RINO who won on celebrity name power + ballot name placement, and Meg “$100 million Spent” Whitman couldn’t beat Jerry Brown in the 2010 Tea Party wave. The switch occurred with the radical change to California from a widespread bastion of economic activity and a white voter supermajority to a nearly Hispanic majority state with rising income inequality. California’s switch from red to purple to blue tipped the electoral college scales heavily in the Democrats favor, creating the national election strategies that we see today. The GOP can look back at the changes and know that the men in the mirror made it happen. St. Reagan signed into law many of the items that created this environment. Regardless of the GOP’s ability to win the presidency again, there is too much ‘awful’ baked into our cake and far too much money owed for there not to be a big break and a radical change to our system. To borrow from the authors of “The Fourth Turning”, each time the US enters a crisis phase, it leaves as an entirely different entity. Now is no different.
*Note: No one mentions this, but the immigration reform of ’65 also created the weird situation in the US where 10% of all black people were actually born in Africa.
**Note: Gov. Wilson ran against Bob Dole, but his primary campaign died young.
- See, I Told You So: Obama Seeks to Reverse Reaganism and Destroy the GOP (rushlimbaugh.com)
- California’s Hispanic Population to Outnumber Whites by End of 2013 (amren.com)
- Why the GOP Could Be in the Wilderness For a Long Time (theamericanconservative.com)
- John Fugelsang: The GOP just can’t accept the truth about Reagan and gun control (current.com)
- Mickadeit: GOP leader says no to deportation (ocregister.com)
- Ruben Navarrette Jr.: Scholarships for unauthorized immigrants (utsandiego.com)