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Election 2010: Republican Tsunami
Couldn't Splash Over the Sierras

Rand Green 
Yosemite Valley


THE 2010 ELECTION was a great day for America in many ways, but it was a victory in which the Left Coast chose not to participate, and that misfortune that poor judgment on the part of a majority of California voters does not bode well for the future of the Golden State.

Nationwide, the almost unprecedented Republican surge did not solve the country's problems, but it is a good first step, potentially putting a check on the progressive expansion of government control over the private sector and erosion of personal liberties that have proceeded at breakneck speed under the Obama administration.

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It is the assessment of many pundits, pollsters and political analysts that a sluggish economy was the main reason Democrats suffered major losses in the election. But while the economy was certainly a significant factor, those who think this election was all about people's pocketbooks, and nothing more, fail to understand that for a majority of Americans, liberty still trumps all other considerations. Generations of Americans have pledged not only their lives but their fortunes as well in defense of liberty, and many I hope most would do so today if necessary. That, I believe, was the main motivator for a majority of voters in the November 2, 2010 election.

Furthermore, I believe that a majority of ordinary Americans are smart enough to understand what many Harvard graduates, for all their supposed erudition, have failed to learn: that freedom and economic prosperity go hand in hand; that governments may print money but they cannot create wealth; that the real engine of economic growth is a healthy, vibrant private sector operating in a free enterprise system and not overburdened by oppressive regulations and excessive taxation; that the best program for creating jobs is to unleash the creative and competitive power of entrepreneurs and privately-owned small businesses by allowing them to profit from their success. Most ordinary Americans are also smart enough to figure out that massive government tax-and-spend or borrow-and-spend programs are not sound fiscal policy, and that even if manipulation of the money supply and "creative" government reporting of economic indicators make the economy appear, momentarily, to be improving, that kind of economic "recovery" is not sustainable.

Why so many Americans voted for Barak Obama and other Democrats in 2008 is a topic for another time; suffice it to say that for most of them, they didn't get what they hope for, and they very quickly suffered post-poll remorse. Some people saw what was coming with an Obama presidency; many were blindsided. But the biggest mistake that Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made was to underestimate the American people. They arrogantly assumed that by controlling the White House and both houses of Congress, they could now enact their radical socialist agenda virtually unopposed. But they moved so fast and advanced that agenda so rapidly that it quickly became obvious to almost everyone, and it infuriated a great many freedom-loving Americans.

The implementation of the radical Obama-Reid-Pelosi agenda began immediately after Obama took office and the 111th Congress convened, and continued relentlessly over the ensuing twenty-two months. There was never a let-up, and the casualties mounted: freedoms taken away, jobs lost, businesses closed, industries seized by the government, retirement savings wiped out, and the list goes on. There was not one week in that 20-month period that the Obama Regime and the Reid-Pelosi Congress (when in session) did not arrogate power, exceed their Constitutional authority, and impose yet another unwanted, unwise and fundamentally un-American program on the public, all designed to increase public dependence on government and consolidate the tyrannical power of the new Ruling Class. And through it all, as with all tyrants, Obama, Reid, Pelosi and their minions have been indifferent to and even scornful of the will of their constituents.

The ascendency of the new Ruling Class was no ordinary transition of Constitutional power in Washington. It was a bloodless coup, and it shook the political landscape in the United States like a major earthquake. The brash implementation of the new regime's policies, piled one upon another, continued to shake the nation like an unending series of severe aftershocks. And those ongoing tremors triggered a tsunami on November 2, 2010, that swept across the country very nearly from coast to coast.

The results of that election, clearly a repudiation of the Obama-Reid-Pelosi agenda, were historic, constituting one of the biggest shakeups ever in Congress and also in statehouses and state legislatures across the country. Republicans gained more than 60 seats in the House of Representatives, giving them a substantial majority there. They picked up five or six senate seats, breaking the Democrats' filibuster-proof supermajority.

But unfortunately, the Republican tsunami didn't have enough energy behind it to flood eastward across the Hudson into New York or to splash westward over the Sierras into California. For a fact, it didn't even reach the eastern escarpment of the Sierras. Rather, it sank into the parched sands of Nevada.

So for all the fury of American voters, we are still stuck with Reid leading a Democrat majority in the Senate. We still have Pelosi in the House, although no longer as speaker. And of course, Obama is still sitting on his throne in the White House (when he isn't running around the globe apologizing for America to our friends and enemies alike).

As clear as it was to a majority of voters in most states that the Democrats were taking the country in the wrong direction, often with the complicity of establishment Republicans, that clarity seemed to be lacking among the voters of Nevada who, astonishingly, returned Harry Reid to the House, and among California voters who couldn't even bring themselves to unseat Sen. Barbara Boxer in favor of a strong conservative Republican contender. Even in the supposedly conservative Central Valley, Andy Vidak, who could have brought a strongly principled voice to the House of Representatives and should have easily unseated the Democratic incumbent Jim Costa by a decisive margin, wound up losing a close race.

Most astounding of all was seeing Californians return Jerry Brown to the governor's office 28 years after his first two terms as governor, during which he very nearly destroyed the economy of what had theretofore been, by almost every criterion, the greatest state in the country. (For details, click HERE.) What short memories Californians have although, in actuality, many of those voting in the 2010 elections either hadn't been born when Brown was previously governor or weren't old enough to remember. Or didn't live in California at the time, and perhaps not even in the United States.

Of course, California is in even worse shape today than it was when Jerry Brown left office 28 years ago, and that in spite of a so-called Republican governor. Under the administration of Arnold Schwarzenegger, California's economy has suffered from government over-spending, over-reaching, over-regulating and over-taxation even more than it had under his Democratic predecessor Gray Davis who was recalled for his fiscal excesses. Today, the state government is essentially bankrupt and highly dysfunctional.

But even had the Republican gubernatorial candidate, billionaire, and former eBay executive Meg Whitman won the election, it would have been extremely difficult for her, notwithstanding with her exceptional, proven executive skills, to have turned California around, as she would be contending with a state legislature that is overwhelmingly liberal Democrat.

Businesses have been fleeing California in droves because of the high taxes, oppressive anti-business regulations and unfriendly regulatory agencies that view making a profit as a crime and see it as their mission to punish businesses for their success or their pursuit of success rather than to allow them to prosper, create jobs, and grow the economy. Piled on top of the already draconian federal constraints on doing business, California's job-killing, business-strangling taxes and regulations have made the "Golden State" one of the toughest states in the country for even a well-established business to survive, much less for a new start-up to take root.

California's unemployment in October 2010 stood at 12.5 percent, third highest in the nation, and still the California legislature is not satisfied. Business continue to flee the state, and still the legislature is not satisfied.

California has, according to Mike Shedlock, investment advisor with SitkaPacific Capital Management, the third highest state income tax in the nation, the highest sales tax rate in the nation "by far," the 17th-worst corporate income tax rate, the fourth highest capital gains tax, the highest gasoline tax and one of the highest state vehicle license taxes. And still the state legislature is not satisfied.

Unable to bring themselves to practice any fiscal restraint, the Democrats in the California Assembly and Senate are considering dozens of proposals for additional tax increases, among them a severe per-mile tax on drivers designed to force people to move out of their homes in the suburbs and into apartments in the city closer to their jobs.

But blame the voters who put these lunatics in office. They have failed to recognize that the way for California to get out of its mess is to change course. Instead, they elect state legislators who promise even higher taxes and ever-more-punitive business regulations. How bad will things have to get in the state before Californians wake up and realize that more bad public policy won't fix what's broken in the state?

California voters had a chance in the Nov. 2, 2010, election, to at least give businesses some breathing room by approving Proposition 23 which would have suspended implementation of AB32 until unemployment returns to more acceptable levels. AB32, Schwarzenegger's pride and joy, is a radical environmentalist's dream, but it is one of the most anti-business pieces of legislation ever devised and it will do nothing to improve the environment, as it is rooted in junk science and environmentalist mythology. But California voters decided they wanted it left alone, no matter how much worse it makes California's already struggling economy, no matter how many more businesses it drives out of the state, no matter how many more jobs are lost.

In actuality, there is a strong conservative resurgence throughout much of California, as there is across the nation a strong sentiment that government has become too expansive, too expensive, too oppressive, too intrusive. But in California, that resurgence is not yet strong enough to turn the tide.

A big part of the problem is that in California, the number of people who are dependent on government, at one level or another and in one way or another, for their paycheck or entitlement check or subsidy check is higher than in any other state. California has, for example, more welfare recipients than the next eight states combined. Voters in that group are not likely to vote for anyone supporting budget cuts, just as voters who are on the government's payroll or who work for government contractors are not likely to vote for anyone who wants to reduce the size of government.

Public employees unions in California have tremendous clout, and public employees on average now receive compensation packages more than double their private sector counterparts and retirement pensions that are out of reach for almost anyone else. Those pension obligations are fiscally unsustainable and are one of the major causes of the state's financial woes. But nobody who is looking to retire on one of those pensions wants to see it jeopardized by limited-government legislators. Better, they believe, to fund their endangered pensions with higher taxes on greedy corporations and their over-paid top executives.

Not surprisingly, the public employees unions spent heavily during the 2010 election campaign to defeat anyone who talked about budget cuts or smaller government. Another other major force in California that keeps liberal extremists dominating Sacramento is the "alternative lifestyle" crowd the self-indulgent, the libertines, the licentious, the junkies that are more numerous in California than in any other state and that are particularly prevalent in the Bay Area and in Hollywood. But also in this category are people for whom unrestrained abortion rights, or the right to murder their own unborn child for their own personal convenience or to cover an indiscretion, take priority over any other political issue.

Yet another factor is the open borders, pro-amnesty lobby, significant in its impact because of the large number of undocumented workers already in the state and the number of employers who have relied upon them and wish to continue to do so.

When all of these factors are taken into consideration, it is perhaps really no surprise that California, rather than feel the force of the Republican tsunami, became even more deeply entrenched in its support for radical liberal politicians in the November 2010 election. It was a choice made by the majority of voters, and we all, in California, shall have to live with the consequences of that choice until things get so bad, and enough people get so mad, that in some future election a majority of voters will say, "No more. This is destroying us. This is insanity."

It is incumbent on those of us who already recognize that fact to do everything within our power to educate our fellow Californians, to help them understand why things are as bad as they are and how important it is to take the state on a different course. Some headway was made over the two years leading up to the 2010 election, but it was not enough. Whether it is possible to keep the momentum going and get enough voters on board to swing California's elections in the other direction in 2012 remains to be seen. But for the future of the state and of the nation, for the sake of our children and grandchildren, we must try.

Source: Copyright 2010 Rand Green Communications.
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