There are no Henry Cuellars among CA’s Democratic pols

by CalWatchdog Staff | January 29, 2013 6:15 am

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[1]. Unfortunately for Latinos, pols like John Perez[2] would rather keep climbing the career ladder than take on teachers unions that increasingly use crude “Bell Curve”-style rationales[3] 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[4], to point out more of what’s crazy about the Democratic coalition. It’s the very sharp Joel Kotkin[5]:

“[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[6].

henry.cuellarIn Texas, it’s not hard to find pro-growth Latino Democrats like Rep. Henry Cuellar[7], who represents a heavily Latino district[8] 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[9]. Sheesh.

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

  1. values teachers unions over minority students:
  2. John Perez:
  3. “Bell Curve”-style rationales:
  4. different pedigree:
  5. Joel Kotkin:
  6. Siskiyou County supervisor:
  7. Rep. Henry Cuellar:
  8. heavily Latino district:
  9. isn’t for higher taxes:

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