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Political analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation

Monday | November 11, 2002

California is Dems new Fortress of Solitude

While Democrats were getting trounced nationwide, in California, they absolutely massacred Republicans in every race of note.

The Democrats took the governorship despite having one of the most ethically challenged governors in the nation. They also took every single statewide office and the state's new congressional district. Democrats dominate the state's Congressional delegation 33-20, have both Senators, and control the state legislature by wide margins.

And how did they do it? Not by coddling President Bush or running to the right. But by pushing a solid progressive agenda. See this post by Nathan Newman for a list of progressive accomplishments in California:

  • In the face of Bushís indifference to global warming, California passed standards for cars to fight CO2 emissions that, because of size of the stateís market, will force Detroit to redesign their cars nationwide in response.

  • California also became the first state to mandate paid leave for new parents or those caring for a sick relative. Itís only six weeks of pay, but itís a start that can be expanded and sets a precedent for national paid leave.

  • And addressing the shame of our agricultural system, California has enacted new rules to mandate binding arbitration to assure that farmworkers voting to unionize get a contract to raise their living conditions. This is a crucial continuation of the legacy of Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers.
And as Newman notes, that's just the marquee accomplishments. He lists a slew of other environmental, labor, abortion and health care accomplishments that would make any progressive proud.

And the California electorate, despite being faced with a governor with 60 percent dissapproval ratings, rewarded the party with a clean sweep. And had Democrats been more aggressive in their redistricting efforts, they could've gone a long way toward stomping out all vestiges of the California GOP. As is, the incumbent protection racket of 2002 spared the state GOP all of its existing seats. At the current pace of California's demographic and ideological shifts, it won't be long before those incumbent GOPers will be shown the door.

Again, there's a reason for this success -- the Democratic Party has led. It has been progressive. It has been inclusive (Latinos and women have a strong presence at all levels of state government). It has charged into the open while national Democrats have cowered in fear. It really is a beautiful thing to behold.

One side-effect of the Democrats' romp in California is that Rove and company will immediately concede the state to the Democrats (despite Davis' small margin of victory). That's a 55-electoral vote headstart. Of course, Bush showed that he didn't need California to win, but in a bleak national picture, it's nice to see that the biggest prize of all will automatically go to the Democratic Party nominee.

Posted November 11, 2002 07:10 AM | Comments (57)


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