Californiafication: A Good Idea (for Conservatives)

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


There’s been much talk of the “Californiafication” of Washington in recent days. Rich Yeselson summarizes the idea: “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.” Kevin wrote about this on Friday:

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.

Actually, if you’re a conservative, it might be a good thing. The Californiafication strategy makes it much easier to achieve otherwise-unpopular conservative policy goals like slashing health, education, and other popular government programs. (Remember, the largest parts of the federal budget—Social Security and Medicare—are also among the most popular. If you really wanted to drastically reduce the size of government and the tax burden, that’s where you’d go.) The strategy goes a little like this: first, make it politically or structurally impossible to raise taxes (check). Next, allow liberals to enact their policy goals—but without raising taxes to pay for them. Then, when a recession hits, revenue on existing taxes will crater and the budget deficit will explode. Spending will have to be cut drastically since it’s impossible to raise taxes—even more impossible now that there’s a recession. Voila: you’ve reduced the size of government. This seems like a great way to get around the fact that a political agenda centered around the idea that government shouldn’t try to solve people’s problems isn’t actually popular.

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate