Reports of our deaths may be somewhat exaggerated

The San Francisco Chronicle ran an article today touting the demise of the GOP in California:

With their registrations sinking and their political clout withering, California Republicans have come out of the November election in danger of slipping into political irrelevance across much of the state.


Since 2004, Republican registration has dropped by more than 317,000 in the state, while Democrats have picked up 563,000 new voters. Five previously GOP counties, including San Joaquin, Stanislaus and San Bernardino, now have more Democrats than Republicans.

You can read the rest here, which discusses the numbers, and which also has some quotations from Republicans pointing out that the 2008 blow-out could have been worse, so things aren’t that bad.

Certainly Republicans aren’t doing well in California.  In the last two decades, California has gone from being the most reliably Republican of states to being an equally reliably Democratic state.  And as the article notes, a lot of very conservative counties have switched political allegiances.  I just wonder if Republicans are quite as dead as the Chron announces (and seems to hope is true).

The reason for my suspicion that conservativism in California is very sick but not dead yet and, perhaps, not even fatally ill, is what I see going on in Marin:  Conservatives, tired of being treated like second, third or fourth class citizens, are starting to congregate.  The party I described the other day is a perfect example of a grassroots conservative movement that’s bypassing the Republican party entirely.  Whether we’ll eventually join up with traditional Republicanism remains unclear, but we’re out there and we’re not inclined to walk away from the political fray.

I’d also like to see a study showing the growth rate for registered Independent voters in California.  What I’ve learned, both from my own experience, and from listening to other neocons, is that we new conservatives are not inclined to register as Republicans.  Instead, we tick off the Independent box.

There are, I think, three reasons for the reluctance to become registered Republicans.  First, as neocons, we don’t necessarily buy into the entire Republican package, and don’t want to give it our wholehearted imprimatur by identifying ourselves as such.  (As for me, I’d register Libertarian if it weren’t for the fruitcake factor and Ron Paul.)

Second, as lifelong Democrats, it’s hard to see an “R” after our names.  Independent is an almost sexy compromise, one that signals a break with the Democratic party without actually crossing the line into the former enemy’s camp.

And third, with the internet, which makes it easy for friends and neighbors to find out your party affiliation, even if they wasn’t what they were searching for when they plugged your name into Google, registering as an Independent helps preserve political privacy, especially if the neocon is not yet ready to face the opprobrium that comes with an ideological realignment.

I certainly hope that the Chron’s article is both exaggerated and premature.  Still, it makes important points that conservatives (not Republicans, but conservatives) should take seriously, and reminds us all that we have an awful lot to do in California over the next few years.

Be Sociable, Share!
  • cottus

    The Republican party on the Congressional district and lower level is no better than the Democrat party or worse – only the names of the special interests that really control things are changed. The pasty – faced cretins who knifed Arnold in the back at his critical moment in history* still hold sway. California is a one party state and will be for the foreseeable future. There is no hope….there will be no change. Your “independents” feel in their bones and vote accordingly, if at all. I hope you and your friends have enjoyable parties, at least. You will get no scraps from the table influence – wise in any case.

    *His attempt at redistricting.

  • cottus

    First of all, I apologize to Bookie for my snarky, negative post, above. Second, I apologize for squeezing in a second comment, perhaps more message – like this time so when this messenger gets shot, it won’t hurt me so much. I was voted ‘off the island’ over at NeptunusLex, so feel free, as they say.

    The Australians talk about “one vote, one value”, which means all our votes should be equal. But in America, the votes are readily purchased in various clever ways, so the expression here should be “one dollar, one value”. As brilliantly illustrated by the greatest blogger that ever lived, Stephen den Beste, our two party system works because both parties, fighting over pretty much the same issues, cannot deviate too much from the center without losing too many votes. California is broken in that the two parties do not share the same issues. The ‘Republican’ dollars and the Democrat dollars cooperate and overlap, so the legislature will permanently be in the hands of the Democrats. All the districts in the state are pretty much ‘safe seats’. The ‘Republicans’ willingly cede power to the Democrats in exchange for permanency, which on a practical basis (and to cut this short and grossly oversimplify) means the public service Unions get what they want and the Real Estate, etc. interests get what they want. Arnold tried to change that by making the district elections more competitive through redistricting. A recent proposition will try as well (fat chance – look at our courts). Nobody (that is the true voters – the dollars) wants that, so it will not happen.

    But who knows? Bookie, if your parties are lavish enough and you raise enough money, you can buy enough votes for change. But then the teacher’s union will just double their union dues again like they did for Arnold’s ballot propositions and outbid you in the vote – buying market no matter how just your cause or how hard you work.

    I cannot help but add that a lot of those ritzy types who live on the 17 mile drive in Monterrey and are just sick of pollution and seeing those endless subdivisions going up love a California with stifled development and those pesky entrepreneurial types leaving the state in droves. And the cheap, compliant ‘immigrant’ labor with all benefits paid by the state are nice to have around the estate, too.

  • Ymarsakar

    If California was by itself, then cottus’ analysis would fit. However, California is part of a political body with 49 other states. This tends to produce something like Iraq, where local Kurdish and Shia partisans can be used to overthrow the status quo of the central government, if the local Kurds and Shia get external support in the form of US brigades and air support.

  • Danny Lemieux

    Cottus, are you describing California or Illinois? I could hardly tell the difference.

  • suek

    Totally off topic, but too interesting to wait for the appropriate topic to arise…!