For those who don’t know, the California GOP is as close to extinction as any major political party has been in our lifetimes. They score only 29% of registered voters and they aren’t competitive in any populated part of California. In fact, things have gotten so bad that the Democrats were able to change the law to let them run two Democrats against each other in some races because there is no viable Republican.
How did things get this way? Well, that’s pretty obvious unless you’re a reel ’merikan.™ What happened is that starting in the 1990s, the GOP went hard core on abortion, gays, the environment, and hating moderates. Sadly for the GOP, Californians pretty much support all those things. That cost them women, suburbanites and the young, leaving only an ever-shrinking number of conservative ghettos... kind of like the way the GOP slowly vanished from the Northeast, and then the North, and then the Midwest and now the West.
More importantly though, the California GOP really dove hardcore into race and immigration. Indeed, California became the center for things like the English only movement, the “deport them all” movement, and the center for grousing about the browning of America. The timing couldn’t have been worse because California’s demographics changed dramatically, from 78% non-Hispanic whites in the 1970’s to 43% today, with Mexicans being the single largest ethnicity at 25% of the population. You can do the math on what that means. And no amount of “we just need to get out the vote” crap is going to disguise this failure.
Anyway, in a special election last year, 48 year-old cherry farmer Andy Vidak did the impossible: he won as a Republican in an agricultural district south of Sacramento. He won despite the presence of a great many Mexicans in his district. How did he do it? Well, he ran on a platform that (1) avoided taking positions on social issues, (2) supported a path to citizenship for some undocumented aliens, and (3) supported granting drivers licenses to illegals. He also took more standard Republican positions like promising to address the lack of jobs and water, and he opposed the high-speed train from San Francisco to Sacramento.
Well, now state party Chairman Jim Brulte has decided that it’s time to save the party and he’s using Vidak’s victory as a template. He wants GOP candidates to reflect the views of their districts rather than follow the party’s ideological platform. And what he’s done is he’s allowing Republican candidates to tailor their campaigns to address local issues:
“The candidate that most looks like and sounds like and has the most shared values and shared experience of the majority of voters wins.”Gee, ya think? Seriously, how twisted have things become that someone espousing “reflect the values of your district” would be considered a radical thinker and controversial. That really tells you how wrong the mindset has gotten and why the GOP is all but extinct in blue states and increasingly more red/purple states.
Anyways, this is a real surprise because the California GOP has been one of the most rigidly fringe for nearly 20 years now. They were happy to die rather than be the least bit palatable to the public. So it’s encouraging that a party chairman would have the nerve to allow this change – predictably, the response has been brutal about the betrayal and (ironically) the end of the GOP... uh, you were dead already folks. Anyway, this change is truly significant and represents a total repudiation of the talk radio strategy, and hopefully the national GOP will grasp what this means and will begin to follow this model in other lost states. Letting candidates reflect the values of the voters in their districts is the only way to be a national party and we are always better off getting 80% of what we agree upon than 0% of what we want.