Thirty or 40 years ago, the saying “As California goes, so goes the nation” meant the Golden State set the trends in national politics. California made Ronald Reagan governor, then president. Today, the old saw refers to the fact that California’s ever-shifting demographics—and the far-left tilt of its politics—will more than likely be the future of America as a whole if illegal immigration remains unchecked.
As President Trump continues to take strong measures to halt this wave of illegal immigration, there is one other way in which the nostrum would still apply: If California is not the future of the country, at the very least it is likely to be the future of the Democratic Party.
Leaving Their Leaders Behind
Over the last few years, the California Democratic Party has taken drastic steps to demonstrate how far leftward it is willing to go, almost entirely in the name of pleasing its radical base—consisting mostly of Millennials and illegal aliens. This has included such unusual endeavors as bills making it no longer a felony knowingly to infect someone with HIV (obvious pandering to the LGBTQ crowd), the more recent folly of the “sanctuary state” law (partially an appeal to the illegal crowd, and partially a rebuke of President Trump), and current gubernatorial frontrunner Gavin Newsom’s push for a single-payer health care system (a cry for an expansion of the mindset that gave us Obamacare).
But recently, in a move clearly fueled by the upset victory of socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the primary for New York’s 14th Congressional District, the state party has all but devoted itself to the cause of outright socialism.
After neither the incumbent U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein nor her challenger, State Senator Kevin de León, won the party’s official nomination ahead of the June primary, the state party’s board finally made a decision. Thanks to California’s top-two primary system, the two Democrats will face off in the general election in November. Without the worry of a Republican opponent, the Democratic Party leadership voted overwhelmingly in favor of endorsing de León over Feinstein; of the 360 members who make up the party’s executive board, 217 voted for de León while only 22 voted for Feinstein.
There were already hints that the state party was leaning towards the more radical challenger rather than the long-time incumbent; in the party’s pre-primary convention, de León had received 54 percent of the delegates’ votes, while Feinstein received only 37 percent. Since neither reached the threshold of 60 percent required for an official endorsement, the issue was put off for just a few more months before it became clear which candidate was truly the favorite of party activists.
Now it is clear that at least a majority of both the party’s base and the party’s executive leadership are shifting much further to the left than previously imagined. In the name of socialism, they are choosing a far-Left challenger who opposes the Second Amendment and supports single-payer healthcare, over the four-term incumbent whose name, alongside departing Governor Jerry Brown, is easily the most-recognizable in modern California Democratic politics. The socialists who make up the party’s base and are effortlessly infiltrating its leadership are now willing to jettison their senior leaders who aren’t “progressive” enough.
And they’re not afraid to admit it anymore. Ocasio-Cortez, who unseated one of the Democratic Party’s highest-ranking House members in the primary, has been open about the fact that her socialist agenda, “once considered to be radical,” has now become “the mainstream.” It wasn’t actually a gaffe when she declared that her intention was to flip a congressional seat in Kansas “red” in November; she was subtly echoing the words of a Democratic Socialist who, upon winning her primary for the Pennsylvania state House of Representatives, declared: “We’re turning the state the right shade of red tonight.”
Take Advantage of the Divide
But just as California need not be the inevitable future of the country at large, it is not already set in stone that the Democrats will so easily and shamelessly become a branch of the International Socialist Organization.
Most recently, former senator and vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman has come out in opposition to Ocasio-Cortez, and implored voters of New York’s 14th Congressional District to vote for the incumbent Joe Crowley anyway, as his name is appearing on the ballot through a third party’s nomination. Similarly, de León still has to overcome a massive challenge in California as Feinstein, who received 44 percent in the primary, has broad support among moderates, independents, and even Republicans who acknowledge that it’s better to vote for an establishment Democrat than a socialist firebrand.
It is clear that the Democrats are still divided, even if they will never admit it. Even as the aging leaders of the party seem to have continued on past their expiration date, they will not give up power so easily, as much as they give lip-service to the rising socialist wing. At the same time, more moderate figures such as Lieberman acknowledge the fact that outright socialism will hurt the Democratic Party, and the country, in the long-run.
The Democrats are heading into the midterm at a severe disadvantage. Their major issues, from gun control to abolishing ICE, have proven wildly unpopular. With the economy still on the upswing and a wide variety of foreign policy successes for President Trump such as North Korea and Russia, the Republicans already had momentum going into the November elections.
But the Republicans could solidify an even greater victory if they exploit the other major enemy that the Democrats are facing right now: themselves. The GOP should not balk from the fight now when the opposition has so utterly exposed itself. It must demonstrate the ways in which even the more moderate elements of the Democratic Party lead, inexorably, to the leftism that now dominates their political conversation. There should be no delusions about making common cause with the apparent voices of reason on the Left, for they are destined to lose.
Nothing would mark a more perfect poetic irony than one of the Democrats’ top political strategies being used against them, especially if it even further condemns them to minority party status in 2018.
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