I believe this will be my last post that is simply an analysis of the November election. Really, I think we are all tired of hearing about what Speaker Pelosi will do and how the country has called for bipartisan efforts, change, blah blah, Iraq, blah, etc. So, my final analysis will focus on what the election means to California Republicans and Gays, but not necessarily on Republicans that happen to be Gay.
I have always maintained that California is NOT a blue state. It is impossible to imagine it as a red state, either. Really, Californians are purple but forced left. Similarly, Gays are not hard Democrats. Even Log Cabin Republicans like myself have a hard time voting Republican because of the anti-Gay rhetoric from the right. We are forced left.
But we already knew their was an association between Gays and purple.
California showed its purple nature last week. At the top of the ticket was a very independent minded Republican winning by a huge margin. With the exception of Steve Poizner, the rest of the statewide ballot was decidedly Blue.
I have already looked at what makes Schwarzenegger different. He and Poizner both are fiscally conservatives with a background that shows that they favor business interests in general. California prides itself on a strong economy based on a combination of agriculture, natural resources, and commerce.
But, you ask, weren’t Strickland, McClintock, and other Republicans on the ballot strong economic conservatives?
Yes they were! However, Poizner and Schwarzenegger successfully painted themselves as social moderates. It also didn’t hurt that Poizner ran against Cruz Bustamante, who nobody really likes.
Schwarzenegger, especially is moderate-to-left on many social issues. He follows the majority of Californians when he discusses Gay Rights, Environmental Policy, and Criminal Justice. His basic view seems to be that government shouldn’t interfere where it doesn’t need to but should step in to protect the rights and property of individuals when necessary.
This (small-L) libertarian sentiment can be seen in his stances all over the place. He is pro-Gay Rights in protecting our rights to economic and social liberty and justice. He is pro-environment because he sees a government necessity in protecting the environment as a public good, but not so pro-environment that it would significantly impede the rights and liberty of individuals or business to operate or do as they wish (within reason) on their own property.
Californians, clearly, tend to lean left on social issues. Except in rural areas and the Central Valley, Californians tend to favor liberal social issues. Statewide, Californians tend to favor moderate economic policies.
More so, Gays tend to be socially liberal. I have met very few members of the GLBT community that are not socially liberal. It is extremely difficult to identify as a social conservative if most of what you hear from the right is how you are an abomination and living a deviant lifestyle. That does not mean, however, that Gays necessarily really identify with the Democratic platforms. Many Gays are not as economically liberal as the Democrats would like.
Last week’s election is a grand opportunity for the California Republican Party to take a serious look at itself and decide whether it wants to remain relevant. By rewriting its platforms to focus primarily on conservative economic goals while remaining socially libertarian, the CRP can win back the state.
The greatest and most successful Republicans to come through the ranks of the California Republican Party include Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and Arnold Schwarzenegger. All three developed conservative economic policies while remaining socially moderate or libertarian. The policies of all three believed that the government that governs best is that which governs least.
If the California Republican Party rejected its current platform based primarily on conservative social issues, it would be in a far better position to recapture the votes of Californians. Further, it would be easier for Gays to vote Republican with a clear conscience (at least in California). Over time, this could lead to major reform nationally.
My hope is that the CRP will take a few minutes to look at the current state of affairs and recognize its own shortcomings. If it continues to serve as a bastion for social conservatives, it will continue to fall into obscurity in the state. If it learns to embrace the socially moderate views of its most successful members, perhaps it will have an opportunity to reform California while limiting the power of the tax-happy socialists disguised as Democrats in this state.