Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch famously quipped that the people had voted him out of office “and now the people must be punished.”
One might say the same of California voters who—apparently enjoying double-digit unemployment, massive state debt, environmental extremism, and unsustainable public pensions—sent Barbara Boxer back to Washington. Indeed, Democrats strengthened their stranglehold on Sacramento and returned almost their entire Congressional delegation to D.C.—by wide margins.
To top it all, the left-coast electorate put 70s retread Jerry Brown back in the Governor’s Mansion. This is the same fellow who opposed Prop. 13 and helped unionize the state’s public employees—a group whose exorbitant retirement benefits have been draining the state dry.
What’s so pathetic about the election results is that voters exhibited a general distaste for higher taxes by voting down Proposition 24—an attempt to reinstate recently lowered taxes on business—and by approving Proposition 26, a measure that requires a two-thirds vote on “fees” previously subject to only a majority vote.
On the other hand, voters were conned by a massive publicity campaign against “two Texas-based oil companies” to overwhelmingly defeat Proposition 23—the attempt to delay implementation of the greenhouse emission law, AB 32. The latter piece of “Cap and Tax” legislation is set to become the largest tax increase in state history—costing an average Californian, by an estimate in the pro-23 voter guide, up to $3,800 dollars a year.
Even voters in Riverside County went along, narrowly, with the massive media war against Prop. 23—a campaign largely financed by industries set to profit handsomely off the economy-killing “greenhouse” measure. So much hot air about hot air.
Riverside County voters also narrowly approved Measure L, a bit of political chicanery designed to protect unsustainable pension benefits for public safety employees. In this case the red herring of local politicians’ salaries and benefits (as in the city of Bell) were used as a head-fake to snooker voters about the real intent of the legislation.
The bottom line of the 2010 election is that the power of public employee unions, combined with a seismic demographic shift over the last five decades (fueled by illegal immigration) has made California the bluest of blue states—a state apparently immune to political change even given massive unemployment and government debt.
The one irony of the election was that despite the string of “progressive” victories, the proposition to legalize marijuana flopped. Given the direction of the state and the tax-happy proclivities of Sacramento legislators, cannabis may be required to sustain the Disneyesque vision of reality cherished by Cal-voters and their representatives.