There are no Henry Cuellars among CA’s Democratic pols

Jan. 29, 2013

By Chris Reed

As a libertarian believer in free minds and free markets, I’ve watched for decades the uneasy coalition in the Republican Party of libertarians/libertarian lites and determined social conservatives. What the former hold most dear isn’t remotely what the latter does.

But in the California Democratic Party, we have at least as strange a coalition, one that has achieved enduring and near-hegemonic power over the Golden State. Its dominant wings are public employee union members, white liberal environmentalists and often-poor Latinos. The priorities of the first two groups are wildly different than those of the last group.

This is why former state Sen. Gloria Romero has for years pointed out the insanity of Latinos allying with a Democratic establishment that values teachers unions over minority students. Unfortunately for Latinos, pols like John Perez would rather keep climbing the career ladder than take on teachers unions that increasingly use crude “Bell Curve”-style rationales to explain why minorities don’t do as well as whites in public education.

Now along comes another Los Angeles Democrat, albeit of a different pedigree, to point out more of what’s crazy about the Democratic coalition. It’s the very sharp Joel Kotkin:

“[M]inority representatives in Sacramento –- with few exceptions -– consistently vote against the interests of their own constituents on issues such as water allocations in the Central Valley or regulations that boost energy and housing prices. In their clamor to join the ‘progressive’ team, they, in effect, are placing the California ‘dream’ outside the reach of the state’s heavily minority working class.

“It’s almost surreal to see people who represent impoverished East Los Angeles and Fresno, for example, vote exactly the same way as those who represent rich, white and older voters in Marin County and Westside Los Angeles. You don’t have to watch ‘Downton Abbey’ to see ‘upstairs, downstairs’ politics. Despite mouthing progressive rhetoric, California’s minority legislators seem intent of creating an increasingly feudalized California.”

A few Latino Democratic lawmakers appear to care about small businesses. Lou Correa of Orange County, for example, often talks the talk. But comparisons between how the California Democratic coalition functions and what it values and the Democratic coalitions in other megastates couldn’t be more telling.

America’s (not California’s) norm: Bipartisan interest in creating jobs

In Texas, plenty of Democratic politicians, white and Latino alike, care about promoting the state’s energy, aerospace and farming interests. In Florida, there are many Democratic lawmakers who work to keep tourism strong and to make the other Sunshine State a fulcrum in U.S. trade with the Caribbean and Latin America. In New York, from Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Sen. Charles Schumer on down, there are plenty of Democratic lawmakers who want the Empire State to remain the capital of world finance, banking and publishing.

But here in California, the most high-profile Democrat bewailing the state’s business climate is Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has as much real power as a Siskiyou County supervisor.

henry.cuellarIn Texas, it’s not hard to find pro-growth Latino Democrats like Rep. Henry Cuellar, who represents a heavily Latino district that extends from the San Antonio suburbs to the border town of McAllen.

There are no Henry Cuellars in the California Legislature or congressional delegation. If we had a few more, then we wouldn’t be on our way to being a 21st-century version of a feudal state, in which a minority of privileged elites (mostly white) enjoy affluence while the majority (mostly nonwhite) struggle to get by.

Joel Kotkin, a New Yorker by birth, a lifelong Democrat, a truth-seeking public intellectual and a Californian since 1971, gets this.

People like George Skelton? They’ve never met anyone who isn’t for higher taxes. Sheesh.

We don’t just need more Cuellars. We need more Kotkins.


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  1. Donkey
    Donkey 29 January, 2013, 06:38

    California has abandoned all logic and reason. It is manipulated and controled by a Prison Industrial Complex that every major public union organization feeds into. The schools, with their school policing force marks children as trouble makers from their first day kindergarten. The police with their war on citizens over drugs, code violation, dog license, jay walking, or sitting on a stair step in Long Beach. The politicians passing hundreds of restrictions on the freedom of Californians every year. Our courts processing their human product as if chattal slaves to the state. And a system of prosecution that would have made any totaltarian thug elated at the number of convictions through shear terror.

    We are being led by evil people, in control of an evil system of justice.

    Reply this comment
  2. Hondo
    Hondo 29 January, 2013, 09:48

    Harry Truman chaired the Truman commission during ww2 to root out waste and fraud. He had the support of his democratic president and the republicans too. Harry saved lives because a certian aircraft builder was caught shortening the fighter planes wings a foot or so, which would have destroyed its flying capabilities.
    Such a commission wouldn’t stand a chance in today’s congress. Even the Republicans would shoot it down.
    I imagine the hurricane Sandy bill could have been a third its size. The waste wrote into the bill consumed every penny of the tax increase on the wealthy they just passed.
    The ‘Reagan democrats’ were really the Truman democrats who got pushed from their own party.

    Reply this comment
  3. StevefromSacto
    StevefromSacto 29 January, 2013, 12:05

    “Even the Republicans would shut it down.”

    Of course they would. Please remember that it has been the Republicans who have supported massive and unfettered spending by the military industrial complex–including unbelievable cost-overruns–for decades. The same people who decry waste and abuse in social service programs turn a blind eye to wasteful and even fraudulent spending by the Defense Department.

    Reply this comment

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