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Horowitz: Even California voters reject radical leftist ideas


The state is not nearly as liberal as people think

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Nancy Pelosi suggested on Friday that, based on her assumption that Joe Biden won the presidency, he will have "a bigger mandate than John F. Kennedy." Let's put aside the Freudian slip comparing this to the infamous 1960 election — the high turnout for dead voters and all — where is there evidence that anyone supports socialism and anarchy? Well, if you can't find it in California, then there is nowhere else, outside perhaps a couple of deep blue cities.

As always, Democrats won every statewide election in California last Tuesday with landslide margins. Republicans have long ceded the state and have failed to even contest their ideas with legitimate candidates. However, when it comes to voting on actual issues, the people had quite a different view. Here are some liberal ballot initiatives that were defeated on election night and one conservative initiative that passed in the Golden State:

  • Proposition 15: If passed, it would have raised $8 billion by taxing commercial and industrial properties at a higher market value that they are currently taxed. Though this initiative was pitched as taxing the wealthy to fund schools, it was defeated 48%-52%.
  • Proposition 16: This initiative would have amended the state constitution to allow affirmative action in public education, employment, and public contracting. This key piece of cultural Marxism was defeated 43%-57% even in California, though proponents outspent opponents 19-1. Given this result, Republicans are foolish for not pushing back against racial preferences even harder across the nation.
  • Proposition 21: This would have allowed local jurisdictions to implement rent control mandates on landlords. It was defeated by a 20-point margin.
  • Proposition 22: This initiative allows rideshare companies to pay their workers as independent contractors, a proposition opposed by the entire Democrat Party and labor movement, including Senator Kamala Harris. It passed by a 17-point margin.
  • Proposition 25: This was a key priority of the jailbreak movement. It would have abolished cash bail for criminals awaiting trial and replaced it with a so-called risk assessment system. It was defeated 44%-56%, despite having the support of the governor and over $11 million in campaign expenditures.

This all occurred during a year when Democrats won the presidential race in the state by a margin of 2-1. What it demonstrates is that the state is not nearly as liberal as people think; it's just that Republicans have completely abandoned the state, allowing the Democrats to win it by de facto acclamation.

The lesson from here is that once party labels are stripped away, so long as voters are presented with a clear and accurate description of two sides of an issue, they will almost always reject the far-left position. For example, in deep blue Illinois, voters were presented with a choice to scrap the existing flat income tax and replace it with a progressive graduated system. They voted against it.

The text of the question on the ballot was crystal clear and very vividly presented voters with a choice in one of the foundational disagreements between the competing ideologies. Voters who went to the polls were specifically asked to support the following: "The proposed amendment grants the State authority to impose higher income tax rates on higher income levels, which is how the federal government and a majority of other states do it." The text also made clear that adoption of this initiative would not directly raise taxes; it would just repeal the constitutional amendment barring the use of a graduated income tax. It was defeated by a 10-point margin, even as Democrats easily carried the state.

The lesson for conservatives is clear: If they only rid themselves of the dead-weight baggage from the Republican brand, they'd be able to compete in many parts of the country that were previously thought to be out of reach.
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