California’s recall election is over. Californians chose the status quo.
That means the issues that propelled the recall, like crime, homelessness and loss of jobs likely will get worse.
If Republicans want to be relevant in California, they need to become the party of solutions for what troubles California.
The brilliant demographer, Joel Kotkin, has decried the hallowing out of the middle class in California. Kotkin has written that California has become the land of the wealthy, unions, and the less fortunate.
Part of that demographic change is the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Republicans who, over the last 25 years, have moved to states more friendly to their values like Texas, Florida, Nevada, Arizona and Tennessee.
For those who have remained and want change for the good, particularly Republican candidates and their party, it’s time to learn the simple lesson of the recall and the initiative process.
At the height of the recall fever, the campaign was about Gavin Newsom and his policy failures. California is worst in the nation in crime, poverty, homelessness, job exodus, wildfires and water mismanagement.
Those is favor of the recall, when it was ahead in the polls, including a poll 51% to 40%, were focused on those problems, policy choices and Newsom’s unlikability.
In the final month of the recall campaign, Newsom and his supporters spent nearly $100 million making the recall about anything but Newsom or his policies.
It was a successful strategy that defeated the recall but left California with all its problems still in place and likely to get worse.
Despite that loss, one truth remains, California voters are aware of the problems of their state and want solutions. So, what should California Republicans do in response?
Well, first, they should ignore calls for them to become more like Democrats or to adopt some mantra that will make them more liberal or moderate or even conservative.
Adopting labels does not attract votes.
Nor will offering the same policies as Democrats attract votes in a state with a 48% Democrat registration.
After all, Democrat voters already have their own candidates with those views.
Instead, Republicans should learn from their successes with statewide initiatives.
California is somewhat unique in that it has a thriving political process that allows its citizens to place initiatives on the ballot.
Those initiatives can become law and even amend the California Constitution.
Despite dwindling Republican voter registration, California voters have been partial to initiatives supported or opposed by Republicans for decades.
In November of 2020, California voters turned down a massive property tax increase, turned down a return to a racial quota system, voted against cashless bail, rejected expanded rent control and reversed a law pushed by Sacramento Democrats that sought to force Uber and Lyft to make all their drivers employees.
Long before that, the legendary Proposition 13 was passed by California voters, which capped out of control property tax increases – and voters have repeatedly rejected efforts targeting Prop 13. A three-strikes law was put in place that targeted repeat criminal felons and voters in 2016 rejected the repeal of the death penalty.
The Republican successes related to initiatives can be directly traced to the fact that initiatives are policy driven and specific responses to specific issues.
Often they are obvious solutions to obvious problems.
The lesson in that is Republicans in California have success when they propose specific solutions to prevalent problems and when their solutions are placed in the voters’ hands.
Republican candidates, on the other hand, for decades have failed to push initiatives or are only vague in their platforms. Their poor election record is the result.
Water could be their way back.
California Democrats are moving to mandating that residents are only allowed 50 gallons a day of water. While they may work for some in city apartments, it will be very unpopular statewide.
Republicans should propose a comprehensive water supply program, inclusive of conservation, water catchment (saving water that falls on certain roads and buildings, i.e. like Singapore), reservoirs, and desalination. Solutions over rationing.
So, as Republicans do soul searching over the recall loss, they should look on the bright side. Voters are engaged. Thousands of activists became involved.
Millions are concerned about the problems of California and they want solutions.
The Republican Party must be that problem-solver for a state thirsty for solutions.
Tom Del Beccaro is an acclaimed author, speaker and national columnist. As a radio and television commentator. Tom is the Chairman of RescueCalifornia.org, which is raising funds and gathering signatures for the recall of California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Read Tom Del Beccaro’s Reports — More Here.