Joel Kotkin, who has long described himself as a “social democrat,” writes in the Orange County Register on Sunday about a “blue gloom” creeping into California. That doesn’t mean Republicans have a prayer in the Golden State this year. But it suggests, maybe, change is possible as the progressive junta in Sacramento indulges in its hubris.
This rising discontent won’t displace Newsom and other gentry progressives off their current perch in the short run. But Newsom lacks both the political genius of Jerry Brown, and none of his occasional independence from the junta of oligarchs, green zealots and public employee unions. Even with a largely compliant media, Brown’s approval ratings are barely over 50 percent; it’s hard to see how Newsom will do much better.
Indeed as the economy slows, as is likely, Newsom may face controversies connected to such things as the absurdly underperforming Brown bullet train and the huge structural budget issues paced by soaring debt and pensions. It may be enough to bring life back to the now moribund GOP, particularly, if, like Reagan, it learns how to appeal to Latino, Asian and younger voters. Perhaps more important, the fallout could create space for more pragmatic Democrats or even independent candidacies.
Give it another four years. In the meantime, maybe some California Republicans can learn how to do politics locally again.