Learning From California

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Rich Yeselson says, “We are living through the Californiafication of America — a country in which the combination of a determined minority and a procedural supermajority legislative requirement makes it impossible to rationally address public policy challenges.”  Ezra Klein agrees.

Me too!  Here’s what I wrote a couple of weeks ago, back when the Dodgers and Angels still had a chance of getting to the World Series:

Unfortunately, a local championship or two are about all the good news we’re likely to get anytime soon in the Golden State.  We have structural deficits as far as the eye can see.  A Republican governor took over a few years ago and cut taxes, making things even worse.  Healthcare costs have gone through the roof.1  Unemployment is over 12%.  And a rabid Republican minority in Sacramento can — and does — prevent any of these things from being seriously addressed because the state constitution requires a two-thirds majority to pass a budget or raise taxes.

But no schadenfreude, please.  In Washington DC, federal deficits have become enormous, Republican tax cuts have made them even worse, healthcare costs are skyrocketing, unemployment is about to break double digits, and it’s nearly impossible to seriously address these problems because the Republican Party has adopted a policy of making the filibuster a routine tool of state.  If you can’t get 60 votes in the Senate, you can’t pass anything of consequence these days.

In the past, California has been a bellwether for the nation, and that’s been no bad thing.  But this time?  Fasten your seatbelts, gang.  It’s going to be a very bumpy ride indeed if it happens again.

Don’t remember reading this?  That’s because I wrote it for our weekly email newsletter, which you can subscribe to here.  All I can say is this: for years I was basically uninterested in Sacramento politics because it was such a cesspool.  It made Washington DC look like a model of good government.  But no longer: Sacramento is still a cesspool, but DC is catching up fast.  If we keep it up much longer, the entire country may end up in the same mess we’ve made for ourselves here.  That would be decidedly not a good thing.

1And prison costs!

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Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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