As John Nichols reminds us, the only thing more dysfunctional than the Party of Trump at the national level is the Party of Trump in California, and Trump may finish them off for a second generation.
Fifty years ago, California was a reasonably Republican state—with a Republican named Reagan on his way to being elected governor, two Republican senators representing the state in Washington, and the pieces in place to back the GOP nominees in the next six presidential elections. Republicans did not always win California, but they had the upper hand.From 1952 to 1988, only one Democratic presidential candidate won the state—and that was Lyndon Johnson in the Democratic landslide year of 1964.
As recently as 1988, Californians voted for Republican George H.W. Bush for president and Republican Pete Wilson for the US Senate. But that was the end of it. California has not voted for a Republican for the presidencyor for the Senate since that year.
This year, the California GOP looks to be headed for disaster in the presidential race, with some recent polls showing Donald Trump gainingless than one-third of the vote. And that’s not the worst of it. The GOP won’t even have a Senate candidate on the ballot.
Yep, that's right. Sen. Barbara Boxer's replacement will be a Democrat, because Republicans are so pathetic in the state they couldn't even finish second in the state's primary. And let's not forget what started the end of the decline for the GOP in California: immigration.
Two decades ago, Republican Governor Wilson championed California Proposition 187, a 1994 ballot initiative designed to discriminate against undocumented immigrants. The initiative’s proposed restrictions on access to education, healthcare, and social services were draconian, and unconstitutional—as the federal courts eventually determined.
The Republican push for the measure proved to be political folly in a state with a growing Hispanic population and a substantial Asian-American community. The Proposition 187 fight identified California Republicans with anti-immigrant policies, while Wilson’s veto of legislation that sought to prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation fostered additional concerns about the party’s intolerance in a state with a large and active LGBT community.
Wilson was certainly not the sole source of the California GOP’s image problems. But when he left office in 1998, Wilson’s tenure was recalled by The Washington Post as an era of “divisive politics” in which the California governor and his party “championed voter propositions to end affirmative action, social services for illegal aliens and bilingual education.”
Demographics crushed the Republicans in the state, and the rest of the union is headed California's way. The fact that Republicans are toast in the most populous state in the country should have clued them in years ago, but then again, these are Republicans we're talking about. They've lost the state since Clinton and will probably not win the state again in my lifetime.