California Republicans are not coming to terms with electoral defeat

by Russell's Rants

Originally published November 15, 2012

I was attending a civilized post-mortem today of the 2012 presidential campaign hosted by the Chancery Club, a Los Angeles bar group, when things got interesting. The two panelists, one Democratic the other Republican, were dutifully recounting much of what has already become conventional wisdom as to the causes of Obama’s victory:  from superior Democratic get-out-the-vote analytics to changing demographics to the powers of incumbency (including looking presidential and bipartisan during a Hurricane Sandy).

My own view, by the way, is that to the question as to whether the Democrats had the better candidate, message or electorate, the answer is, decidedly, “yes” – to all 3!

The Democratic speaker at the luncheon, former Commerce Secretary Mickey Kantor, had voiced the hope that the Republican Party would not, in the future, get so side-tracked with “exotic” social issues (read: “legitimate rape”) because, in our democracy, it is important to have competitive parties to keep each other honest.

Then former Governor Pete Wilson, who also happened to be in attendance, was asked if he wished to add anything. And did he.

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Former Governor Pete Wilson

Wilson, of course, is the political author of the anti-immigrant Proposition 187, which has likely consigned his party to permanent minority status in the State of California for the foreseeable future.  And his remarks proved that he has learned nothing from the experience. He went on for 10 minutes as to why the Democrats won:  it was the money of the proliferating public employee unions that fund themselves in an “immoral” fashion through automatic pay-check deductions.  Seriously, that was his answer!

Never mind that Californians had just voted down Proposition 32 aimed at gutting the ability of the unions to compete with generally better-funded corporate interests.  Never mind that, if anything, the public sector has been shrinking during the Great Recession and shedding jobs because House Republican refused to pass the American Jobs Act and spend additional money to keep teachers and firefighters and policeman on the job.  Never mind that one attendee had just spoken movingly of his Latino and American heritage and wondered when the Republican Party would embrace sensible emigration reform.

No, according to Wilson, it was the public unions that had stolen the election for the Democrats, and California had better start embracing pro-investment reform or we will be lost.

Again, never mind that California’s top budget Legislative Analyst just announced yesterday that due to the passage of Proposition 30 and a recovering economy, our state can expect to have a much-reduced deficit this year and likely surplus by 2014.  Never mind that the real missing ingredient in the recovery has been renewed aggregate demand – meaning the buying power of the middle class, who are represented in many cases by unions.  And never mind that the former governor had no new ideas as to how his party could make amends with the growing Latino electorate in this state and across the country by proposing anything other than guest-worker status to benefit the interests of businesses.

If Governor Wilson’s remarks are indicative of those of his party, then it will be indeed be a long road back for the GOP.