Taking Back California – Part Six: The Party of the Future

California is in play. Only a small minority of Californians are immune to the failures of the one-party state. Everyone else is its victim. A great awakening is upon us. The popular theory among progressive liberals, repeated as if it were beyond debate, claims that “demographics is destiny.” This theory supposes that as nonwhite voters inevitably come to dominate the electorate, it will guarantee perpetual one-party rule.

This is a myth. Liberal white elites, indeed a demographically endangered species, control California today but have no future. Based on K-12 enrollment and extrapolating current voter registration statistics ahead just one generation, non-Hispanic whites will diminish from 48 percent of California’s registered Democrats to just 16 percent. In a state where public schools are failing, crime and homelessness are visibly out of control, hamburgers cost $20, and modest homes with zero lot lines cost over $1 million, can California’s dwindling population of elite white liberals take anything for granted? Demographics are going to work against Democrats in the coming years.

White liberals made this mess. All conservatives have to do is explain how they’re going to clean it up. And their focus must be on three things: lowering the cost of living, controlling crime, and restoring quality education. Lowering the cost of living is the only solution that benefits everyone equally and can only be done by deregulating businesses and fostering competition in every economic sector. And that competition must begin with deregulation to stimulate investment in practical solutions to produce more water and more energy.

To have any hope of implementing a practical, competitive, all-of-the-above approach to water and energy policy in California, Republicans have to confront the environmentalist lobby. As it stands today under one-party rule, the environmentalist position—baked into public policy through legislation, zealous regulatory interpretations of legislation, and court precedents spawned by relentless environmentalist lawfare—there is nothing, apart from more conservation, that is considered acceptable.

This bias is clearly seen with the prevailing water policies in California. Surface storage is unacceptable. Desalination is unacceptable. Additional diversions from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta are unacceptable. Wastewater recycling and runoff harvesting are tolerated but nonetheless burdened with excessive standards and environmentalist micromanagement that risk making them cost prohibitive and fatally delayed. Water rationing is already reality in California, and every year the restrictions get worse.

These same obstacles extend to everything productive in California that might lower the cost of living. Practical energy solutions are forbidden. Ultra-clean natural gas, ultra-efficient gasoline/battery hybrid cars, nuclear energy, and more hydropower are all unacceptable. And then essentially destructive, unsustainable resource hogs, such as wind power and battery farms, while acceptable, are also subject to litigation and delays—probably just as well—but meanwhile, we face a future of energy rationing in California.

The scarcity lobby impacts everything. California’s timber industry harvested over 6 billion board feet per year as recently as the 1990s, but now, thanks to persistent environmentalist-inspired overregulation and litigation, the harvest is down to only 1.5 billion board feet, 25 percent of what it was only 30 years ago.

California’s housing shortage is almost exclusively a product of environmentalist regulations, particularly the restrictions on building new homes on open land, but also a product of excessive building codes that increase construction costs, along with excessive costs for building materials such as lumber that are also the result of environmentalist-inspired laws and regulations.

California is a state rich in natural resources. We have it all here. Oil, gas, timber, water, sun, minerals, and an innovative culture. Up until the 1990s, California was a state where working families could afford to buy a home and pay their utility bills. Those days are gone because of political choices, and those choices were primarily driven by environmentalist excess.

Nobody wants to go back to the days of leaded gas and vanishing wildlife. But the tradeoff between the needs of people and the needs of the environment has now swung decisively in an extreme direction. In some cases—offshore wind energy being a prime example—environmentalist-inspired projects are probably harming the environment more than they are helping.

Republicans should acknowledge how important it is to protect the environment and celebrate the progress we’ve made. But they must not hesitate to hold environmentalists responsible for going too far and, in so doing, denying the vast majority of Californians a chance at a better life.

Repositioning Republicans as the Party of the Future

Identifying and focusing on specific solutions that are not primarily ideological is what is necessary to reposition Republicans in California as the party of the future. Three issues—quality education, public safety, and lowering the cost of living—are compelling challenges for which Democrats have obviously failed and on which every household, regardless of ethnicity or ideology, is urgently concerned. These are unifying issues, and the solutions suggested here offer specific and effective ways out of the mess California’s Democrats have created.

Anyone skeptical of the persuasive power of these issues should imagine asking any voter, particularly those living in low-income and underserved communities: Do you want to live in a state where your children will get an education that instills a work ethic and gives them the skills they’re going to need to succeed in the 21st century, or not? Do you want to live in a state where significant portions of our larger cities are dangerous no-go zones, overrun with gangs and drug addicts, or not? Do you want to be able to afford to buy a home or pay rent and have some savings left over every month after paying your bills, or not?

The solutions that have been presented are not meant to be a comprehensive list. There are many good solutions to these issues, and there are other issues that may have similar universal appeal. There are a lot of great ideas. But that brings up the most potent weapon of all in any campaign to politically realign California, which is optimism. Financially and environmentally sustainable solutions are feasible. They are practical. They will work. They will make California a state where children are well-educated and families are safe and financially secure.

The power of political optimism is not only because of its intrinsic appeal but also because it stands in stark contrast to the inherent pessimism in left-wing Democratic politics. Climate doomsday is almost upon us! No, it isn’t. We can adapt to whatever comes along. We live in an oppressive society! No, we don’t. America, and California in particular, is the most tolerant and inclusive society in the history of the world. And our policies are going to make life even better. For everyone.

If Republicans are willing to redefine themselves not merely as an opposition party but as a party with well-defined solutions to problems that affect everyone, voters will notice. If Republicans find candidates willing and able to focus on these solutions of universal appeal and deliver their message with not only authentic conviction but irrepressible optimism, voters will notice.

Californians don’t want more of the same. They don’t want negativity. They’re victims of a con. A self-interested political elite that has destroyed public education, incentivized crime and homelessness, and pushed the cost of living beyond the reach of normal working families.

Convince Californians that you have concrete answers, that you have a recipe for positive change, and that you represent a party with a vision for a brilliant future. You will not only resurrect the Republican Party; you will save the greatest state in America and set an example for the nation and the world.

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About Edward Ring

Edward Ring is a senior fellow of the Center for American Greatness. He is also the director of water and energy policy for the California Policy Center, which he co-founded in 2013 and served as its first president. Ring is the author of Fixing California: Abundance, Pragmatism, Optimism (2021) and The Abundance Choice: Our Fight for More Water in California (2022).

Photo: California state of United States flag on flagpole textile cloth fabric waving on the top sunrise mist fog

Notable Replies

  1. So where do I sign up? The GOP is virtually comatose in the Bay Area where I live.

  2. The future in California is Hispanic. And the Hispanics will wake up one fine day and send the educated-class whites to somewhere where the sun don’t shine.

  3. All thanks to Simpson Mazzoli and Reagan’s fraud-ridden amnesty. They will eventually “take back” what they claimed whitey stole, right? Come see the paradise of Aztlan?

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