Monday, February 4, 2019

Trump Makes GOP Toxic in California?

The San Francisco Chronicle is always ready to attack, condemn, shut down Republicans.

They have no interest in conservatives or center-right politics having a foothold or a chance of victory in the Golden State.

The liberal media loves to report how Republicans used to dominate the state of California, and now they have been pushed into absolute irrelevence.

Is there any way for the GOP to thrive, let alone survive, in the state of California?

This story follows the fallout for Catharine Baker, who was the only Republican legislator in the Bay Area. She was elected in 2014 following the term limit on the incumbent and a number of other local issues which gave her a chance against a union-backed big money Democrat.

At the first CAGOP Convention which I had attended, I got to listen to the consultants and the campaign managers who made her election a success. She was definitely liberal on a number of issues, including marriage, life, and even Cap and Trade.

She campaigned actively in support of this terrible program, in fact.

This has been the game which many Republicans have been told to play. The only wahy that Republicans can have a chance of winning is to be as liberal as possible. In the mean time, the state has gone from bad to worse, and more people are fleeing.

Was it ultimately President Trump which ruined the GOP brand in the state of California?

The San Francisco Chronicle wants to tell that story, to be sure. But is it a fair summation of what has happened in the state of California?

Or should we rather recognize that forty years of uninterrupted liberalism has ruined this state, and no political party can save it?

Catharine Baker was the only Republican representing the Bay Area in either the Legislature or Congress, until she lost her re-election bid to the Assembly in November. Now there is none.

The two-term incumbent practically ran as a Democrat, and still lost to a political neophyte. That raised the question: If Baker can’t win in the Bay Area, what Republican can?

She ran as a Democrat. Doesn't that say it all? Why is it that moderate Republicans end up embracing liberal policies across the board, only to lose in the end? That partisan two-step simply never pays off.

The answer Baker found after spending weeks combing through post-election data and campaign trail anecdotes should be a red flag for Republicans in the Bay Area and beyond in California, heading into President Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign.

“Ninety percent of the feedback we received was, ‘I can’t vote for you because you’re Republican,’” Baker said. “That message to Republicans is, ‘Your brand is toxic in this state.’ That’s why the party has a very faint pulse right now.”

What is it about Republicans that has turned off so many voters? It's not just the Republican policies, I submit. It's the corrupt press which has gone to great lengths to shame and diminish conservatives of every stripe.

Let's talk about the indoctrination, not education, which people young and old are enduring in the government schools throughout the state.

Being a Republican wasn’t a problem for Baker before Trump’s presidency. The Dublin resident won two elections in a district that stretches through the suburbs of central Contra Costa and eastern Alameda counties, where Democrats outnumber Republicans, by advocating policies that appeal across party lines.

Baker is pro-choice. She supports same-sex marriage rights and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. She voted for the state’s leading-edge climate change law. She supported gun control measures in the Legislature.

I would haev to say, however, what is the point of running as a Republican if you are going to vote left on all the major issues? What votes did she ultimately cast which were in the best interests of the state and made her a worthwhile Republican? When looking at all the issues down the line, it doesn't make a lot of sense.

Baker reached out to Democrats and independents — she held 16 town hall meetings with Democratic state Sen. Steve Glazer of Orinda, whose district overlapped hers. She said internal polling showed that 60 percent of voters surveyed in her 16th District approved of her job performance.

Job approval does not translate into election victories. Time and again partisanship will win out, and there is no escaping that fact.

Yet Baker lost in November by two percentage points to Rebecca Bauer-Kahan, a Democratic attorney from Orinda who had never run for public office before.

Baker drowned in a wave election with a concrete “R” chained to her ankle.

More commentary than reporting, again. This frantic editorializing has turned off so many people to the mainstream media.

She wasn’t alone. The GOP lost half the 14 House seats it controlled in California. As usual, no Republicans were elected to statewide office — the last time a GOP candidate won one of those races was in 2006. There are so few Republicans in the Legislature that Democrats tried to invent a word (“giga-majority”) to describe what now amounts to more than a two-thirds supermajority.

Give me a break. There are other state legislatures which have a massive Democratic presence. They should check out the numbers in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Oregon Democrats now have a supermajority in Salem. too.

Last month, the GOP lost another one. San Diego Assemblyman Brian Maienschein left the Republican Party to join the Democrats because he couldn’t stomach Trump any longer.

“I can either keep fighting to change the Republican Party, or I can fight for my constituents,” Maienschein said. “There wasn’t a way that I could continue and feel good about myself and the choices I was making.”

Give me a break! The only reason Maienschein left the Republican Party is that he knew that he had no chance of getting elected against in 2020. He barely held onto his seat last year, and realized that his best bet to staying in power was to join the Democrats. He had often voted with them anyway, so the change is not that dramatic.

Baker was as anti-Trump as any Republican in the state. She said she wrote in former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s name on her 2016 presidential ballot and supported motions to censure Trump while in the Assembly.

Those kinds of actions probably hurt her even more. Most Republicans were angry with her to begin with because of the votes which she had cast in the past: gun control measures, assisted suicide, repeal of the religious exemptions for vaccinations. I cannot tell you how many people were furious with Baker because of those terrible votes!

She said she’s lost Republican friends and donors by publicly opposing Trump. Some told Baker that they supported her despite her liberal positions on abortion, same-sex marriage and the environment, and couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t stand by the president despite their differences.

Like I said! That's what utimately did it! Why continue to represent any district, any region as a Republican if you are not going to support the President and everything which the party stands for?

“I just felt he was too far out of the bounds,” Baker said in an interview for The Chronicle’s “It’s All Political” podcast. She was still happy to accept Republican help while disapproving of the party’s standard-bearer: “I suppose there’s a hypocrisy there, but one that I’m OK with.”


She admitted to being a hypocrite. That's going to turn off voters even more!

“Like every self-respecting Republican” who has opposed Trump, Baker said, she is constantly asked why she doesn’t leave the party.

“For me, it is not the right path,” Baker said. “I feel it is so important to not give up on the principles that made me a Republican.”

Catharine, what are those principles? What exactly did you vote for or against which qualified you as a Republican?

Baker, 47, grew up during Ronald Reagan’s presidency. She says he stood for things that appealed to her: individual freedom, small government, the power of the free market.

Her votes to give illegal aliens health insurance on the Obamacare exchanges? Her vote for assisted suicide? To force kids to take on vaccinations in public schools? How do these votes measure up as conservative? She even voted for the MCO tax!

She paraphrased Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a prominent GOP Trump critic, in explaining her decision to stay in the party. “If someone comes in and robs your house,” Baker said, “you don’t help them pack or just sit there and watch. You fight.”

What are these NeverTrump Republicans fighting for? The right to lose gracefully? The right to embrace left-wing policy stances? How is any of this a victory?

The challenge for Baker and others who share her frustrations is what to do next. How to get her party to win again. How to change.

The problem is not the party. The probglem is the culture which has overwhelmed the state of California. The problem cannot get better with different "messaging" or more liberal party politics from both sides of the aisle.

Sadly, it appears that California's problems have become so great, that party politics cannot fix them.

For starters, she is concerned about who will be the next California Republican Party chair. In particular, she’s concerned about former Orange County Assemblyman Travis Allen.

This is a ringing endorsement for him, Catharine. Perhaps you should have something mean about Steve Frank, too, since he has real plans to Make the California Republican Party great again.

The party chair, who will be elected at the state Republican convention this month, is not only the public face of California Republicans, but must raise money to help elect GOP candidates across the state.

Allen has the most name recognition among the three top candidates for chair after his failed run for governor last year. He finished a distant fourth in the June primary, with 10 percent of the vote. But he has a robust social media presence and has tapped into a vein of pro-Trump supporters in the state — even though Trump endorsed another Republican in the governor’s race, San Diego County businessman John Cox.

Trump endorsed Cox because Kevin McCarthy and Company told him too. They believed that John Cox' presence at the top of the ticket would drive up the voter turnout to help other candidates in other races. That didn't happen.

Allen has said he wants to rebuild the Republican Party by stressing “Republican values” instead of the “backward thinking” of trying to act more like Democrats. It’s hard to get to the right of him on most issues.

During his campaign for governor, Allen said “the verdict is still out on climate change” as “it will take quite some time for the science to be settled on this.” He promised that he would “cut taxes, get tough on crime, fix our roads and expand our freeways with no new taxes, fix our broken education system, and complete the California state water project.” He offered few policy details beyond his promises to “fix” and “get tough,” even on his campaign website.

What's the alternative, though? Letting everything fall apart and being soft on everything?

He focuses much of his ire on “Bay Area elites” like Gov. Gavin Newsom and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for ruining the state with liberal ideas.

Baker said the GOP needs to articulate a more positive vision of California’s future. But most troubling of all for Baker is Allen’s argument that Republicans must “support our Republican president.”

Supporting Trump would be “a path to death for the Republican Party” in California, Baker said.

Yet Trump's campaign promises are the only ones that will keep the country in one place. We have to balance our budgets, secure our borders, protect life and family. The conservative worldview is the only view which will conserve the world. The truth is that we must advocate for these values as much as possible. We need to make the case and remove the power differentials which have made Big Government and Big Handouts the big winners in one election after another.

Allen defended his support of Trump, telling The Chronicle in an email that “Republicans in California didn’t lose because our country has the best economy in decades or record low unemployment. We didn’t lose because we’ve fixed international trade deals or strengthened our military. Republicans in California lost because the California Democrats out planned, out spent, and out executed the establishment Republican Party.”

These assessments are accurate across the board. The problem is that Democrats are better organized and they have continued gaming the election system in their favor. The latest example is the automatic voter-motor law, ballot-harvesting, and rank voter fraud.

Baker thinks it was more than a case of the GOP being outhustled. In California, at least, the party has to embrace comprehensive immigration reform instead of lining up only behind Trump’s plan for a wall on the Mexican border, she said. Most Republicans say they don’t want to address the question of the nation’s 11 million undocumented residents until its borders are secure. But Baker says Republicans must do both and must give undocumented immigrants a way to become citizens.

Here's the problem, Catharine. Ronald Reagan tried that approach, and what ended up happening was that all the illegals received amnesty, and there was no border security afterwards. This is all wrong. We must secure the border. Period. Any talk about amnesty or reform is meaningless apart from following through on the border wall and the enforcement of all immigration laws.

“If our party can’t come to terms with that — and I mean immediately — we are done in California,” she said.

The problem is much bigger than the party politics, sadlly.

The other area where Republicans are seriously out of touch with the state is the environment, Baker said. She was one of seven Assembly Republicans in 2017 to support then-Gov. Jerry Brown’s extension of the state’s cap-and-trade program to combat climate change. It’s a market-based approach to curbing greenhouse gas emissions, under which companies must buy permits for every metric ton of gas they emit. Baker said Republicans should recognize that it’s better than heavy-handed government regulation.

Cap and Trade is a total scam, a total fraud, and it's wrong that she went along with this hoax. The Republicans all should have refused to budge and help pass that travesty. They had the votes to hold it back. They could have joined with a handful of Democrats in really tight re-election bids and prevented the program from passing.

But instead, those seven Republicans in the state assembly caved and extended the program. Is it any surprise that so many people refuse to vote for Republicans?

But Republicans excoriated Baker and the other GOP lawmakers who backed Brown’s measure, calling them traitors. Chad Mayes, who led the party in the Assembly, was forced to resign his leadership post over it.

The force of removing Chad Mayes from power did not amount to much, sadly. Brian Dahle has not been much better. So much selling out, so much going along with the rest of the status quo, and with so little to show for it.

“I thought it was one of the most conservative votes I cast in my four years in the Legislature,” Baker said. “We offered a solution that’s consistent with our principles, and the pitchforks came out. You would have thought that Republicans were anti-environment.”

What a load of crap. There is nothing conservative about approving and advancing Cap and Trade. Nothing at all.

It’s hard to see a political future for someone like Baker. Her state party is largely to the right of her and seems to think its biggest problem is that it’s not conservative enough. There were once enough Democrats open to the idea of electing a moderate Republican, but Baker’s experience shows that may no longer be true.

Baker, however, isn’t discouraged. She’s working as a lawyer now, still in her old district, and pondering her next political step.

“My time in public service,” she said, “is not over.”

Final Reflection

It's not fair to blame Trump for everything, for anything, or even for something.

The fact is that this country needs to secure its borders, and the wall is the best way to do that. California has turned into the officious mess it finds itself in precisely because of the rampant illegal immigration and open border policies.

Republicans did not fight hard enough to secure the border, to stop illegal immigration, to put the needs of Americans, of California citizens first.

Now the voter electorate and the corruption of the voting system may be so great, that there is no partisan solution left. California Republican Party Chairmen are offering more than voter registration programs at this point. They are actively discussing filing lawsuits and enjoining the terrible laws which have adulterated the voter franchise.

Ballot harvesting flipped four seats in Orange County, the Northern LA County seat, plus the two other GOP-held seats in the Central Valley. The fact is that Democrats are out-hustling, cheating at the ballot box.

No amount of moving to the political center, no amount of going Democrat is going to fix these problems. We need to enhance our outreach, sure, but the corruption, the daed voters, the fraud, the illegal alien voters and registrants, all of that needs to be taken care of, too.

If Republicans cannot win in California, at this point we cannot blame the partisan divide only. The cultural breakdown is a big part of it, too. The progressive temperament which has overtaken this state may require a cultural restoration to emerge before anything else.

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