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Advice to California's GOP: Leave — or better yet, change

California needs Republicans' fiscal prudence, but the election shows there's no political future for them without a major makeover.

November 10, 2012|Steve Lopez
  • California Gov. Jerry Brown will most likely be working with Democratic supermajorities in both houses of the Legislature as a result of the Nov. 6 election.
California Gov. Jerry Brown will most likely be working with Democratic… (Wally Skalij, Los Angeles…)

Memo to the California GOP:

Rough couple of weeks, huh?

First you found out that the number of registered Republicans in California has dipped below 30%, which means we are fast approaching the day when the entire state membership can fit into two golf carts.

To make matters worse, of the 1 million people who used a new online voter registration system this election cycle, only 20% registered as Republicans. And 60% of those who registered were under 35, which means your future's not looking great.

Then the dominoes really started to fall.

Gov. Brown's Proposition 30, the first general, statewide tax hike in two decades, passed so easily that the ghost of Howard Jarvis threw himself in front of a truck.

Proposition 32, an all-out attempt to defang public employee unions, got pummeled despite an infusion of last-minute anti-labor cash from Arizona.

What could be worse? I'll tell you what. In the state Legislature, Democrats won supermajorities in both houses. Do you know what that means? It's like handing your teenager a credit card, a checkbook and the car keys so he can drive to an all-night orgy.

Meanwhile, on the national front, two states said yes to recreational marijuana and three states said yes to same-sex marriage. And Mitt Romney proved that when your only loyal supporters are aging white men who still drive Buicks and watch "Matlock" reruns — in a country with an ever more diverse population — you're cooked.

It was a wipeout, a blitz, a disaster.

So now what?

Glad you asked, because as it happens, I've got some advice for the leaders and members of the California's shrinking Grand Old Party.

Your first option is to cut and run. Frankly, I regularly hear from Republicans who so despise California and everything it stands for, I'm surprised they keep subjecting themselves to so much misery. Wouldn't it be better to sell everything, pack up the station wagon and move to Georgia or Kentucky? They think, act and vote red in those states, and they probably hate California at least as much as you do.

But here's another option. You could sit tight here in the Golden State, wait for the Democrats to screw things up in Sacramento even more than they already have, and then raise your hand when the situation cries out for the voice of fiscal prudence.

The first thing you're going to have to do, though, is remake the GOP. And by that I mean that you have to get rid of the Neanderthals who dominate the party. Then you need to start grooming and promoting some common-sense fiscal moderates, provided you can locate any.

What do I mean by that?

If someone believes Barack Obama is a socialist, Communist, Marxist, Muslim, radical, black liberation theologian, non-citizen, illegitimate president or Manchurian Candidate, forget about him. He may have a shot at a career in talk radio, but he's not going to make it in California politics.

And you're not going to breathe new life into the GOP with someone who believes the answer to the state's problems is to deport a couple million Latinos, unless they're working in the garden at extremely low rates.

You should also nix anyone who believes that gay people have chosen a "lifestyle" in the way they might choose toothpaste or a pair of shoes, and can be "converted" with enough hard work and Bible study.

I know, I know. We're really thinning the field here. And I'm not even done.

If your prospect for political office seems to think he can speak for God, or that women who are raped shouldn't have abortions, or that a quarter-cent sales tax increase is a crime against humanity under any circumstances, keep looking.

This is California. You might have noticed, on the map of national election results, that the state is as blue as the sun-splashed sea.

In other words, you're out of step, GOP. We needed you to be the voice of reason to counter union-backed Democrats, and all you sent us was social troglodytes and Chamber of Commerce yes men.

Unchecked power can be a dangerous thing, and with a Democratic governor and two Democratic supermajorities, we could burn through the $6 billion to $7 billion in Prop. 30 tax revenue with nothing to show for it but a few new textbooks, a couple hundred windmills and a nice deposit into the prison guard retirement fund.

Who's going to scream when the bill for higher retiree costs is paid for by cutting road maintenance, raising park fees and shutting courtrooms?

I'm not exactly begging, GOP, but your state needs you. As your new consultant, let me say that there's only one way to get back into the game at some point in the future: You have to look to the past.

Your hero should be Earl Warren, not Howard Jarvis. The three-time Republican governor of California raised gas taxes to build highways, he put veterans to work on public works projects and helped grow the state's higher education system.

Or you could look to the guy who raised taxes in tough times and signed an abortion rights bill as governor, then amnestied illegal immigrants and nearly tripled the national debt as president.

What was his name?

Ronald Reagan.

Think about it, GOP. You've marched so far to the right, you practically make your party's conservative icon look like a card-carrying liberal.

Splash a little cold water on your face, remind yourself that the year is 2012, and give moderation a try.

Do it for the Gipper, if not for yourself.

steve.lopez@latimes.com

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