Saturday, October 8, 2011

The Lone Voice: Tom McClintock's Warning To America

Hard as it may be to believe, there are conservative Republicans in California. A few of them have even managed to win elections here and there. One of the best is Congressman Tom McClintock who gave a speech recently that was essentially a warning: if you re-elect Obama, America, your future will look like California's present:  

Bad policies. Bad process. Bad politics. Those are the three acts in a Greek tragedy that tell the tale of how, in the span of a single generation, the most prosperous and golden state in the nation became an economic basket case.
When my parents came to California in the 1960’s looking for a better future, they found it here. The state government consumed about half of what it does today after adjusting for both inflation and population. HALF. We had the finest highway system in the world and the finest public school system in the country. California offered a FREE university education to every Californian who wanted one. We produced water and electricity so cheaply that some communities didn’t bother to meter the stuff. Our unemployment rate consistently ran well below the national rate and our diversified economy was nearly recession-proof.
One thing – and one thing only – changed in those years: public policy. The political Left gradually gained dominance over California’s government and has imposed a disastrous agenda of radical and retrograde policies that have destroyed the quality of life that Californians once took for granted.

That's just an excerpt from a very long piece. You really should read the whole thing. It's a sharp attack on the state's Can't Do society, which is no longer able to build dams, roads, prisons, or schools, but never fails to send out welfare checks to illegal immigrants. 

While McClintock's unsparing in blaming liberals and liberalism for California's dysfunctions, he also has some choice words for those Republicans who dealt with the state's liberals by presenting a moderate "me, too" facade:     

(Nationally) Republicans rediscovered why we were Republicans, and Republican leaders rediscovered Reagan’s advice to paint our positions in bold colors and not hide them in pale pastels.
The result was one of the most dramatic watershed elections in American history.
California Republicans did exactly the opposite, and ended up replaying the disaster of 2008 while the rest of the country was enjoying one of the greatest Republican landslides ever recorded.
In California, the Democrats attacked Republicans for imposing the biggest state tax increase in American history. The Democrats attacked Republicans for obstructing pension reform to protect the prison guards union. These attacks had the unfortunate element of being true.
Meanwhile, the Republican ticket attacked Arizona’s immigration law. Republicans attacked the Proposition that would have stopped AB 32 – California’s version of Cap and Trade.
The sad truth is that we were more like the Democrats than the Democrats.
A few days after the election, a Republican leader whose mission in life has been to redefine the Republican Party in the image of Arnold Schwarzenegger said he just couldn’t explain the results.
I can. We didn’t need to redefine our principles. We needed to return to them. House Republicans did. California Republicans did not. Any questions?

It's often forgotten that McClintock ran in the recall campaign that resulted in the election of the Governator. As I recall he managed to attain about 20% of the vote. Sadly, I was not one of those 20%. I actually believed that electing Arnold Schwarzenegger would be a boon to GOP fortunes. I admired McClintock's principles, but thought Ah-nuld had enough pizzazz to sell conservatism to reluctant Golden Staters. How wrong I, along with many others, was. 

Today, Jerry Brown - a decent, intelligent, but profoundly misguided man - signed into law some classic "only in California" legislation. We are banning the sale of shark fins. We are limiting state initiatives to the November ballot, a sop to unions, who only want to have to do one GOTV effort per year. We are requiring public utilities to put "safety over profits." (are we legislating slogans now?) 

And, of course, we are going to be paying public money to illegal immigrants so they can receive grants to go to college. We are closing state parks and releasing thousands of prisoners for lack of funds, but it's roll out the red carpet for people who flout the law. 

McClintock has a message that's easy to articulate, and undeniably true. Yet there are very few Republicans, either in-state or nationally, who are up to the challenge of repeating it. And, that's too damn bad. 

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