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Fifty Shades of Golden: California’s Election Year Masochism

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

As the Golden State continues to transition into Greece-on-the-Pacific, this election year should have been an opportunity for its citizens to try to stop the madness. But it hasn’t worked out that way. Instead, this year Californians have embraced the model of Kevin Bacon in Animal House, figuratively assuming the position and repeating “Thank you, sir, may I have another?”


At the top of the ticket, Barack Obama is pummeling Mitt Romney by about 16 points in the polls, but that doesn’t mean he is ignoring the state. He’s using it like Charlie Sheen uses escorts. Every few weeks he and his entourage jet into Los Angeles for a fundraiser at some Hollywood potentate’s mansion, tying traffic in knots and leaving hundreds of thousands of commuters gridlocked as they burn $4.59 a gallon unleaded. He treats them like dirt, but they still love him.

Senator Dianne Feinstein is running again, having tread water in D.C. for two decades. At 79, she hasn’t slowed down any – she’s still as condescending and aloof as ever. When a local reporter asked her why she refused to debate her GOP opponent, the bright newcomer Elizabeth Emken (Full Disclosure: I donated to Elizabeth’s campaign), the Senator gave him a pat and walked out. The editorial boards of the state’s many dying newspapers timidly urged Feinstein to at least pretend to respect the voters and participate. She ignored them. Apparently enjoying being treated with contempt, Californians seem poised to reelect her.

In the down-ticket races, voters are ignoring California’s face-first dive off the fiscal cliff and are focusing on the truly big issues. In my south Los Angeles district, the Democrat running for the Assembly has based his campaign entirely on his support for “choice,” as if electing another GOP backbencher will somehow overturn Roe v. Wade. He’ll probably win.


Left unmentioned: Staggering unemployment, budget collapse and the multi-zillion dollar high speed train that the liberal clique in Sacramento wants to build between two desolate hick towns in the Central Valley.

California’s latest smorgasbord of absurd propositions is just as discouraging. There’s a rule of thumb for California conservatives – well, besides “Leave California as soon as possible.” That rule is “Never vote for anything when the ads contain a schoolteacher’s apple.” The latest of the apple initiatives is Governor Jerry Brown’s millionaire tax, Proposition 30, and of course it is all for the children.

In California, you now apparently become a millionaire if you buy anything, as it raises the sales tax. The “temporary” tax hike – did I mention that it’s for the children? – also increases the already stratospheric top income tax rates and puts small business owners right in the crosshairs. This serves two important purposes for the liberal ruling class – it loots even more money from the most productive of California’s citizens to feed the giant public employee union beast that runs the state while simultaneously demonizing the most productive of California’s citizens.

Not surprising, the most productive of California’s citizens are leaving in droves. For those who want to prosper, the safeword is “Texas.”

As terrible as Proposition 30 is, it’s actually the less insane of this year’s tax hike initiatives. Proposition 38, funded by meddling heiress Molly Munger, is an even worse tax tsunami, and of course it’s even more for the children. It raises rates on plutocrats earning $7,316 or more a year in order to pump more money into California’s failing schools. Only in California could Jerry Brown find himself the comparative voice of reason.


Proposition 37 would create an enormous, expensive and lawyer-friendly labeling scheme for genetically modified foods in order to address a problem that doesn’t exist. One recent afternoon, a band of young nitwits and wizened hippies gathered on a busy street corner in Manhattan Beach to rally for Prop 37. They seemed unaware that the price on the gas station sign behind them represented more of a threat to their fellow citizens than man-eating, mutant carrots running amok.

Still, it might pass – after all, it’s stupid, expensive and will hurt the economy. In California, those are selling points.

Even Los Angeles County is getting into the act with Measure B, a Bloombergian proposal requiring porn actors to wear condoms on the job. It’s surprising to find that there is at least some form of sexual behavior that the liberal elite disapproves of, but sadly not so surprising that they can’t resist the urge to screw with one of the region’s few booming industries.

There is one glimmer of hope. Prop 32 would ban union political action dues paycheck dedudctions, threatening the stranglehold the public employee unions have on the state government. The anti-32 ads – brought to you by firefighters, teachers, cops, and only incidentally by their unions – inform the voters that Prop 32 sponsored by a cabal of Big Oil, the Koch Brothers, Karl Rove and Satan. While I’m sold, it’s unclear whether more typical California voters will be.


Proposition 32 is good public policy and would dramatically improve California by freeing the citizenry from its public employee union bondage. That means it’s probably doomed.

And so is California. At this point, the Golden State ought to consider replacing its motto “Eureka” with the more apt “Bring out the Gimp.”

It wasn’t always this way. When I got here 21 years ago, just out of the Army with no money, I knew I could build a future here and I did. But that’s not possible anymore, and what’s worse is that Californians don’t seem to care.

They know what they want, and they seem intent on getting it good and hard.

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