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California’s Coming Left Turn

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Yes, you read that headline correctly, according to “The Hill,” and most observer’s I have spoken to, California’s Democrats are looking to turn farther and harder left.

For a quarter century, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) has built a career as an effective liberal legislator, the author of a federal assault weapons ban and a warrior for civil and gay rights who collaborated with Republicans on energy and health-care bills.

But to a generation of ambitious California Democrats intent on challenging President Trump at every turn, her record is no longer sufficiently liberal.

The attempt of the Reid Wilson authored piece is to parallel the California youth movement to Tea Party movements of a decade ago, but is also at pains to point out the uncompromising nature of this left turn.

“There’s a difference between progressive ideology and pragmatic leadership and sometimes people seem to be getting these confused,” said Gale Kaufman, a longtime Democratic strategist in Sacramento.

There is also a difference between the right turn, in reality a turn back towards the middle, represented by the Tea Party (even if it advocated at some times and in some expressions for extremist right views) and this left turn which is a turn further away from the middle.  This left turn clearly appeals to the deep pockets of the Bay Area and LA’s West Side that fund the Democrat party in California, but at some point the rank-and-file that vote them in time-after-time are going to call enough.

The fires that currently plague the state are, in part, a result of failed water management policy and emergency planning.  The state is in fiscal ruin even if they are able to rearrange the deck chairs to provide cover at this point.  A $0.12/gallon gas tax hits in a week or so, and people are going to balk, even if gas prices are higher seasonally.  When Jerry Brown is one of the saner voices in your party, you have a problem.  Those chickens have to come home to roost at some point.

But Republican John Pitney of Claremont McKenna made the most consequential observation of Wilson’s piece:

“For the old generation, politics was a noble business,” Pitney said. “For the new generation, it is something like a religion.”

This observation, that the Left views their politics with religious fervor, is now so often made that it seems trite.  However, we cannot afford to let it become so – it threatens both our politics and our religion.

The Founders separated government and religion mostly to protect religion from government.  However, it had a benefit of elevating our public discourse by separating our debate from our affiliations.  It meant that we argued ideas on their merits, even if the idea is of religious origin, rather than dealing with it dogmatically.  When we attach to ideas religious levels of significance, even if they are other than religious origin, we degrade our public discourse and our body politic suffers.

Moreover, and more importantly, when our politics becomes imbued with religious significance it threatens the the separation of church and state that it claims to hold in such extraordinarily high regard – for now it views itself in opposition to religion.  Such a view demands that we ask the question, “If for the Left, politics holds religious significance, who precisely is it that threatens theocratic rule?”

In these threats to our public discourse and our faith most people, even the people of California, will see extremism.  The Republican Party in California is in shambles.  It is high time they pull themselves together.  The Democrats are handing them opportunity on a golden platter.

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