The Day California Died

Even as the 2018 midterms were a rather mixed bag for the GOP nationwide, it’s only natural that one of the few bright areas for the Democratic Party was in the progressive utopia of California.

Despite some hype over internal polls suggesting a close race for governor, or a contentious push to repeal a recently enacted gas tax, the California Republican Party once again fell short, even of its own meager expectations.

One Step Forward, Two Steps Backward
Whatever small consolations California Republicans can take away from election night were overwhelmed by more losses, as the Democratic tide inevitably engulfed them.

There is currently only one undecided race that the California GOP was hoping to flip. In the State Assembly’s 60th District, located in Riverside, Republican Bill Essayli was hoping to oust Democratic incumbent Sabrina Cervantes. With a lot of votes still left to be counted over the next few days, the race is a literal dead heat: At the time of writing this, Cervantes leads by just three votes—26,731 to Essayli’s 26,728.

Unfortunately, other hotly contested races in the lower chamber (Districts 32, 44, 65, and 66) were all tenaciously defended by their Democratic incumbents.

In addition, the Democrats made two flips of their own, taking seats from outgoing moderate Republicans Marc Steinorth in San Bernardino’s 40th District and Rocky Chavez in Orange County’s 76th District. Thus, the overall net change in the Assembly is D+1, slightly expanding their supermajority.

The state senate was even worse, with both losses for the GOP coming from the San Joaquin Valley. In the 12th District, Democrat Anna Caballero managed narrowly to defeat Republican Rob Poythress for the seat being vacated by another moderate Republican, Anthony Cannella, and in the process won the seat that she narrowly lost to Cannella in 2010.

But in a more shocking result, the neighboring 14th District saw a sizeable Democratic upset against the popular incumbent Republican Andy Vidak, who was defeated by Democrat Melissa Hurtado.

With these two flips, the Democrats erased the minimal gain made by the Republicans’ successful recall of Democrat Josh Newman in Orange County in June, and once again brought this year’s net change to D+1. This gives the Democrats another supermajority in the upper chamber after it was briefly taken from them with Newman’s loss.

While Republicans managed to defend most of the open U.S. House races, there were still three devastating losses, two in neighboring Orange County districts and one in Los Angeles.

In the 48th, the senior-most Republican congressman in the state of California, Dana Rohrabacher, narrowly lost his re-election bid to radical Democrat Harley Rouda. In the race to succeed outgoing Republican Darrell Issa in the 49th District, Bernie Sanders-endorsed progressive Mike Levin handily defeated Republican Diane Harkey. And in the Los Angeles-based 25th, incumbent Steve Knight was defeated by Democratic challenger Katie Hill.

Not only did the Republican delegation to Congress shrink by three, but it did so by losing two of the longest-serving Republicans in the state.

Dominant Democrats
The poor performance in local races was a clear result of the Democrats’ usual routing of Republicans at the statewide level. In state races, every single office was won by Democrats in the double digits, with some margins easily as high as 20 percent. This included the top race of governor, with ultra-liberal Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom besting former Illinois businessman John Cox by almost the same margin of victory by which his predecessor Jerry Brown beat his Republican challenger, Neel Kashkari.

Even in the unusual race for insurance commissioner, despite strong support for Republican-turned-Independent Steve Poizner, Democrat Ricardo Lara apparently managed to eke out a narrow win. This is by far the closest Democrats have come to losing a statewide contest since 2006, yet it is still telling that in order to get that close, the popular Poizner had to change his registration to “no party preference,” Republican being too toxic a word in California.

After a closely watched race for U.S. Senate, incumbent Dianne Feinstein successfully fended off her socialist challenger Kevin de León. Although her despicable crusade against Kavanaugh was clearly in reaction to de León’s surging support against her, her re-election was the second-narrowest of her career, winning by less than 9 points; only her first re-election in 1994 was closer, when she narrowly beat Republican Michael Huffington by just under two points.

And beyond any of the races for elected office, one other major battle to which the California GOP pinned its hopes was lost. Proposition 6, the effort to repeal a recently-enacted 12-cent gas tax increase, was defeated by the electorate, thus solidifying the majority of California voters as willing to raise taxes on themselves voluntarily. The people who led a national revolt against high taxes 40 years ago are long gone.

The Planned Collapse
California has been on a sharp and serious decline. With an explosion in poverty, crime, and homelessness, a surge in illegal immigration and a mass exodus of law-abiding citizens from the state, it was recently declared the state with the worst quality of life.

The most infuriating part is that, even though this collapse is taking place entirely on Democrats’ watch, they don’t care; and, as is evident in the results of this latest election, neither do the majority of California’s citizens, or whomever voted on Tuesday.

It is often speculated that the only way the California GOP can realistically make a comeback is if the state has a total, all-out implosion—a collapse of the government, a crash of the economy, a breakdown of society itself—under Democratic rule. Wasteful government spending, skyrocketing unemployment combined with an out-of-control welfare state, and the societal strain of unfettered immigration seems to be contributing all it can to the hastening of this process—but California, zombie like, hangs on.

Now that he holds the title of governor, Gavin Newsom undoubtedly will spearhead his signature campaign promise: A single-payer healthcare system, better known as socialized medicine. He will do this, not only out of his own partisan arrogance and his and the state party’s determination to “resist” President Trump, but he will also do this because he knows it will cause the state to collapse. He’s willingly leading the state off a fiscal cliff.

That’s because Democrats in California have already figured out how to engineer the coming collapse to work to their political advantage, so they figure they might as well hasten it.

Here’s how it will work:

As studies have confirmed, a single-payer healthcare system would cost California $400 billion a year—twice the entire state budget. Even though some on the Left have suggested simply raising taxes even higher than the already-obscene rates, the fact is that a system such as this one would almost immediately bankrupt the state.

Once the state goes bankrupt, to whom must Governor Newsom go for a bailout? President Trump. Although Newsom has no intention actually of working with the president, he will make the effort anyway in order to get his participation trophy. Newsom will be counting on Trump to the correct and predictable thing and refuse to save California from our self-imposed misfortunes.

Although telling Newsom to “drop dead” would be the fiscally responsible and morally correct move, it would allow Newsom and his entire party to point the finger at the president and, by implication, the Republican Party: “See? Those Republicans are the reason for the collapse of the country’s formerly most prosperous state! You need to elect more Democrats!”

The common sense of the matter won’t mean anything to their supporters, who will not be able to see that the blame is still clearly on the Democrats and their destructive policies. There is no question that millions of the party’s most loyal followers—namely illegal aliens and Millennials—are so brainwashed that they will buy into this narrative entirely. And this is not just in California, but nationwide. The object is to saddle Republicans with the coming downfall of California, which even blind Democrats must see.

And just like that, the state will continue to elect and re-elect the very people and push through the very policies that brought about its destruction. Worse, they will begin to build a case for this rot to spread.

Photo Credit: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

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About Eric Lendrum

Eric Lendrum graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he was the Secretary of the College Republicans and the founding chairman of the school’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter. He has interned for Young America’s Foundation, the Heritage Foundation, and the White House, and has worked for numerous campaigns including the 2018 re-election of Congressman Devin Nunes (CA-22). He is currently a co-host of The Right Take podcast.