Even Reagan and Wilson would fail their test.
Some angry California Republicans are up in arms about eight GOP state legislators who voted for cap and trade legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. (Full disclosure: I supported the election of one of those legislators.) Describing the eight as “sell-outs,” the angry Republicans characterize the legislators as “willing to vote for legislation that goes against core GOP principles.”
Oh, really?? If they think those GOP legislators violated core GOP principles, then what do they think these GOP leaders did:
- In 1968 GOP Governor Ronald Reagan granted collective bargaining rights to local and county public employees, igniting government employee union control over California governments. Which “core GOP principle” was served by Reagan’s action?
- In 1991 a silly financial maneuver by GOP Governor Pete Wilson triggered a ballot initiative changing the fiduciary obligations of pension fund board members in favor of government employees, leading to today’s pension disaster. Which “core GOP principle” was served by Wilson’s action?
- In 2010, the leader of state senate Republicans opposed pension reform so as not to offend the California prison guards union, whose members in aggregate collect more in salaries and benefits than the country’s largest private prison corporation. Which “core GOP principle” was served by that action?
To be sure, Democrats (of which I am one) are occasionally guilty of hypocrisies (see eg Democratic Attorney General Kamala Harris’s block of a ballot initiative that would’ve shielded vulnerable students and citizens from billions in pension costs and opposition to a civil rights case brought by poor and minority public school students). But it’s one thing to whine and win and another to whine and lose — which is what California Republicans do with regularity.
If Republicans want to win in California they should combine what Californians want with core GOP principles. Nearly 70 percent of Californians support California’s Global Warming laws, according to a leading pollster, and cap and trade is currently the most market oriented way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
In the meantime, demons unleashed by the three California GOP leaders noted above are devastating state and local services as unfunded pension and other retirement costs consume ever greater shares of government budgets. If California Republicans want any chance at success, they should support legislators who combine core GOP principles with faithful representation of the people.