Is the GOP Dead in California?

John Seiler:

When I first got interested in politics as a kid in the 1960s, people talked of the “Solid South,” meaning only Democrats got elected there. The region was dominated by old segregationists like Sen. John Stennis of Mississippi (pictured at right).

Because only Democrats won elections, they built up seniority and controlled most of the committees in Congress, especially on budgets. They  were adept at getting military bases and contracts for their constituents. That’s why so many military bases are in the South instead of elsewhere. Stennis was so friendly to the military, funneling hundreds of billions to contractors, that the Navy named a supercarrier after him, the U.S.S. John C. Stennis (CVN-74). The ship’s nickname is “Johnny Reb.”

By contrast, anti-war Republican Rep. Pete McCloskey of California, a decorated U.S. Navy and Marine Corps combat veteran, won’t get a tugboat named after him. (Since 2007, McCloskey has been a Democrat.)

The South, of course, changed and now is predominately Republican.

But it’s clear that California has become a new version of the Solid South, with Democrats predominant and Republicans influential only at their country clubs. Dan Walters writes:

It’s not a stretch to say that the Republican Party, which once dominated California politics and was very competitive into the 1990s, has devolved into a party of rapidly aging white people, and as they disappear, its fortunes may sink further.

Walters quotes new GOP state honcho Tom Del Beccaro, who said:

We do not pay enough attention to our next generation. We are not talking to enough minority voters, we are not talking to enough independents and we are not even talking to enough Democrats. Quite frankly, we have trapped ourselves into talking to the converted instead of inspiring a new generation of voters.

Actually, it doesn’t really matter what they do. Republicans will be a minority as long as anyone reading this is alive.

There’s an irony here. Democrats are ascendant and dominant. But there’s no money for them to play with. At least for the next decade, by far the major issue will be the economic and fiscal collapse that began in 2007.

Democrats, not Republicans, will be the ones cutting budgets. And the cuts have just begun because there’s no more money.

If Democrats increase taxes, they’ll just drown the goose that lays the Golden State’s eggs.

Democrats Will Split

What will happen is that Democrats, as they did in the Sold South of half a century ago, will split into Right and Left. The Solid South had the old segregationists like Stennis and George Wallace. But it also developed progressives like Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.

We’ll still effectively have a two-party system. But it will be Democratic Party A and Democratic Party B. Republicans will become a de-facto third party, winning only in a few areas, such as Orange County.

Who knows, we might even get a new movement to split up the state, an idea actually pushed by Pat Brown, the 1960s governor and father of current Gov. Jerry Brown.

March 28, 2011

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