Cal­i­for­nia GOP shows why it’s be­come ir­rel­e­vant

Antelope Valley Press (Sunday) - - Opinion - Email Thomas Elias at [email protected]

Just in case any­one still won­ders why the Cal­i­for­nia Repub­li­can Party has be­come a largely ir­rel­e­vant group hold­ing far less than one-third of the Leg­is­la­ture, only seven of this state’s 53 con­gres­sional seats and 23 per­cent of reg­is­tered vot­ers… Un­der­stand­ing comes with a quick look at party lead­ers’ re­sponses to Pres­i­dent Trump’s out­right racist sum­mer­time tweets.

There es­sen­tially was no re­sponse.

Trump, who rou­tinely vil­i­fies any­one who doesn’t toe his line, went a step farther in at­tack­ing four rad­i­cal new con­gress­women who are of­ten ac­cused of anti-Semitism and be­ing out­right so­cial­ists.

Although three of the four are United States na­tives, Trump told these mem­bers of the so-called “Squad” to “go back” to the “crime-in­fested places from which they came.” He added that they all “orig­i­nally came from coun­tries whose gov­ern­ments are a com­plete and to­tal mess.”

For Il­han Omar of Min­nesota, that would mean So­ma­lia, where pi­rates abound and Trump’s la­bel might ap­ply. But the other three, Ayanna Press­ley of Mas­sachusetts, Rashida Tlaib of Michi­gan and Alexan­dria Oca­sio-Cortez, were born in Cincin­nati, Detroit and the Bronx, re­spec­tively. If those places are crime-in­fested, the Trump-led fed­eral gov­ern­ment is at least partly re­spon­si­ble.

The Pres­i­dent’s out­burst of ir­ri­ta­tion at this small group, which has also re­belled against Demo­cratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, pro­duced an im­me­di­ate out­cry from es­tab­lish­ment House Democrats reg­u­larly at odds with the Squad. They quickly in­tro­duced and passed a res­o­lu­tion re­buk­ing Trump for his “racism,” not­ing that he crit­i­cized only women of color. Four Repub­li­cans and an in­de­pen­dent joined all Democrats in vot­ing for that.

But Cal­i­for­nia Repub­li­cans said noth­ing crit­i­cal of Trump, who ap­par­ently can do no wrong in their eyes. Not one of Cal­i­for­nia’s vastly di­min­ished corps of GOP con­gress­men had a neg­a­tive word for the most out­rightly big­oted pub­lic state­ment the Pres­i­dent has ever made.

His tweet was also in­ac­cu­rate, un­less he con­sid­ers Amer­ica a “crime-in­fested place.”

Rather than tak­ing their leader to task, Repub­li­cans in­clud­ing the top-rank­ing one in Cal­i­for­nia – Bak­ers­field Con­gress­man Kevin McCarthy, the GOP’s House mi­nor­ity leader – im­me­di­ately be­gan a se­ries of apolo­gias for him.

Trump, said McCarthy, was mak­ing a point about the four Democrats’ affin­ity for so­cial­ism. “It’s a de­bate about ide­ol­ogy,” he said, although Trump never men­tioned ide­ol­ogy. McCarthy dif­fered only slightly from his golf­ing buddy in the White House by con­ced­ing that

“They’re Amer­i­cans…”

None of this state’s other six Repub­li­cans in Congress said a thing, meekly go­ing along with their tit­u­lar party leader. This, de­spite the fact some other Repub­li­cans in Congress did speak out. Texas GOP Rep. Will Hurd, for one, called Trump’s com­ment “racist and xeno­pho­bic.” And the only black Repub­li­can sen­a­tor, Tim Scott of South Carolina, noted that “No mat­ter our po­lit­i­cal dis­agree­ments, aim­ing for the low­est com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor will only di­vide our nation fur­ther.”

Also say­ing noth­ing was new state GOP chair Jes­sica Mil­lan Pat­ter­son, the first Latina to lead her party in Cal­i­for­nia. When she sought the job, Pat­ter­son

said her top pri­or­ity was broad­en­ing the party’s ap­peal to non-white vot­ers.

Stay­ing silent on Trump’s big­otry merely be­cause he is a fel­low Repub­li­can won’t do that. Nei­ther will the state GOP’s stead­fast op­po­si­tion to broad­en­ing state pro­grams like Medi-Cal to pro­vide health care cov­er­age for youth­ful un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants. Nor its long­stand­ing ef­forts to kill any gun con­trol mea­sure ever pro­posed. Nor its vot­ing against ev­ery leg­isla­tive idea that might mit­i­gate Cal­i­for­nia’s hous­ing crunch. And so on.

Cal­i­for­nia Repub­li­cans of­ten de­cry the fact this state has “one-party gov­ern­ment.” They’re right, in that few Repub­li­cans now re­side in the Leg­is­la­ture,

although the GOP holds many lo­cal of­fices.

But the state GOP needs to look in a mir­ror to un­der­stand why the most di­verse state in Amer­i­can his­tory by vast mar­gins prefers to iden­tify as Demo­cratic and let Democrats con­trol state pol­i­tics and pub­lic pol­icy, even when Democrats do plainly cor­rupt things like tak­ing do­na­tions from big util­i­ties days be­fore pass­ing a bailout plan for those same mo­nop­o­lis­tic com­pa­nies.

The Cal­i­for­nia GOP needs to rec­og­nize this re­al­ity: Tol­er­ate big­otry and you be­come a bigot in the eyes of the many mi­nori­ties who make up a ma­jor­ity in Cal­i­for­nia.

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