By Nathan Barton
The California people’s assembly grew more Democratic this week, as a “Republican” in that body converted to Democrat, as Richard Winger reported in Ballot Access News.
As I understand it, he claimed the GOP has left him. And his constituents. There are now just 19 GOP members in the 80-member General Assembly, less than a quarter. (There are just 10 Republicans in the 40-member Senate, as well.) This apparently has only happened in the last two months, since he won election in November as a Republican. Others blame Trump for his defection. So this guy states he can represent his constituents better as a member of the supermajority party.
Visiting his campaign website, I see nothing that brands him as either party (except support for the military, perhaps). What I DO see is a typical statist, who seems to believe that government must be used to solve any and every problem. I suspect, given his political history and his home (San Diego), he has decided that his political ambitions are best served by aligning with the majority party.
It is not an untypical story, but points out (once more) that the differences between the two old political parties here in the Fifty States are far less than their similarities.
But what it means is the potential for less liberty grows. Not that just another Demo in Sacramento will make a significant difference in the course that California has taken since 1988 (or for that matter, since before it joined the Union back in 1850).
Nor is California the only example we have of one-party American states. Hawai’i is an extreme example of a Dem-dominated state (24 of 25 senators and 46 of 51 lower-house, but on the other side of the coin we have South Dakota (30 of 35 senators and 59 of 70 lower-house are GOP) and Wyoming (27 of 30 and 50 of 60 are GOP). And many more. Where the dominant party includes the governor and many if not all other elected offices in the executive branch.
I think it is more than just a single election or cycle, or a single term of the legislature, that makes a one-party state, here in the Fifty States. It is something that develops over a period of time: perhaps even one or two decades.
If it were not for the fact that we have given so incredibly much power to government, this really wouldn’t matter. No more than it really matters when a particular high school dominates football for years and years in some state. Or even when a radio or television station is THE station in a particular market.
But because we Americans have allowed government to meddle in virtually every aspect of our lives, constantly, single-party states are a serious problem for liberty. And different only in degree, not in kind, from a single-party nation-state. Like Venezuela. Or the way Mexico was for decades.
(Even when, as in the United States, the differences between Dems and GOP are much less than the similarities, and they often DO act as “two wings of the same bird.” (Whether it is a vulture, an albatross, or the sparrow taking a dump on your car.))
Why is this bad?
Single-party states (like the four I discussed above) function differently. Some is obvious, and other aspects are more subtle.
The major electoral struggle takes place in the primary election process (or the caucus) and not in the general election. Which theoretically prevents many people from fully participating. It is which Republican or Democrat wins their party nomination that is critical: the general election is only ratifying the choice.
This means that candidates often take more extreme positions in their campaign, to distance themselves from their same-party opponents. Their rhetoric gets hotter and harder.
Usually, those extreme positions don’t last past the election: their actions in the legislative session are moderated, sometimes quite a bit. But it can still create “bad” conditions – some really stupid and extreme things can get passed. (Stupid and extreme from a liberty point-of-view.)
On the other hand, a single dominant party also means that the two old parties become more and more like each other.
Because the only path open to political advancement (under most circumstances) lies in the dominant party. Someone who is a liberal (even a Tranzi Regressive) and wants power and influence, realized that she must join the dominant GOP and play by their rules: suppressing their real beliefs in order to advance. IF they do a good job of playing, they won’t necessarily be outed as a RINO. But they will moderate the GOP’s claimed positions on a whole lot of issues that supposedly distinguish the two.
And it should come as no surprise that the differences reduced almost always tend to MORE government, MORE statism, MORE control, and (of course) MORE spending.
What’s the solution? Taking power away from government. Away from these legislators and their staffs – and the executive branch people as well. Let them play their games and be stupid.
Of course, the problem is that they will NOT give up the power on their own. Society, people working together voluntarily will have to take it from them. Therein, of course, is the rub. But it has happened in the past, and can again.
If we allow one-party states to continue with the power that government has today, ultimately, any nation, any of the Fifty States, will become more and more like Venezuela, like the Soviet Union was. No lover of liberty wants that. So we must be prepared to wrest power away from governments: federal, state, tribal, local.