One of the many beauties of freedom is there is always surprise.
Voters might consider what is happening in California as the nation’s blue-state poster child turns purple.
When the left seizes power, they don’t know when to stop. But voters know how to say, “Whoa, enough.”
As British nobleman Lord Acton noted, “Power tends to corrupt.”
California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, started this difficult COVID-19 period early in the year by imposing in his state the most draconian shutdown measures in the nation — abridging individual movement and shutting down schools, businesses and churches.
While coming down hard on California’s citizens, Newsom lived the life of privilege and was discovered dining maskless at a $1,200-per-person dinner party at a tiny Napa Valley restaurant.
Now he’s facing recall with reportedly more than half of the 1.5 million signatures needed by next March already gathered.
In November’s elections, Republicans in California regained four of the eight House seats they lost in 2018. And amid the refrain of the left accusing our nation of systemic racism, two of the recaptured Republican seats were won by Asian Americans — Young Kim and Michelle Steele. Kim and Steel became two of the first three Korean American women elected to the House. Another victory went to Mexican American Mike Garcia. And David Valadao recaptured his seat in a majority Hispanic district.
Republicans captured these seats by campaigning against defund-the-police calls from the left and warning against the threat of socialism. And each of these Republican seats was won in districts that went for Joe Biden in the presidential election.
Three ballot initiatives pushing to the left — one raising property taxes; one that would have restored racial preferences in government hiring, contracting and education; and another expanding government power to control rents — all were defeated.
In November 2020, U-Haul rental from Los Angeles to Houston was $4,907. From Houston to Los Angeles, it was $1,784.
Another ballot initiative allowing app-based transportation companies such as Uber to employ their drivers as independent contractors was approved. A victory for capitalism.
In the beginning of December, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to support the challenge of Pasadena Harvest Rock Church against Newsom’s restrictions on indoor church worship. Harvest Rock argued that first amendment religious freedom guarantees were violated by Newsom’s restrictions and that restrictions on churches were more severe than those on secular entities such as hair salons, liquor stores and shopping malls. The court ordered action against Newsom’s restrictions.
Bans were lifted, and Californians flocked to worship this Christmas in churches across the state.
All this against a background of hostility to economic freedom in California that has been driving households and businesses out of the state.
According to Census Bureau data compiled by American Enterprise Institute economist Mark Perry, California ranked No. 5 in the nation in 2019 in net departures from the state of households and businesses.
The highest individual tax rate in California, as Perry shows, was 13.3%, compared with a 3.5% average in states with top inflows of households and businesses. The top corporate tax rate in California was 8.84%, compared with 4.1% in states with top inflows. Average unemployment in California was 4.1%, and employment growth was 1.5%, compared with 3.4% and 2.1%, respectively, in states with highest inflows.
Perry compares U-Haul rental rates for states where people are leaving to states where people are arriving. As would be expected, states with the highest departures have the highest U-Haul rates. In November 2020, U-Haul rental from Los Angeles to Houston was $4,907. From Houston to Los Angeles, it was $1,784. From San Francisco to Dallas, the U-Haul rate was $5,290, and from Dallas to San Francisco, it was $1,655.
Perhaps all this augurs a new conservative wave, just as the Proposition 13 tax revolt in California in 1978 would be followed two years later with the election of Ronald Reagan.
Maybe voters around the nation will pay heed to lessons learned in California and turn blue states red.
Star Parker is president of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education and host of the new weekly television show “Cure America with Star Parker.”