Democrats in California have not lost a statewide election since 2006. They hold 41 of California’s 55 seats in Congress. They presently hold two-thirds supermajorities in both houses of the California State Legislature as well as the governor’s mansion. In short, Golden State Republicans are powerless to stop any legislation that Democrats want to pass.
Unsurprisingly, one party rule has generally not worked out to the benefit of California’s residents. The state has leapt from one fiscal crisis to another, suffering through tens of billions in budget deficits, papered over with ever-higher tax increases and questionable accounting, and all-the-while an unfunded pension debt approaching half a trillion dollars looms.
Democrats latest outrage is hitting residents with a $52 billion increase to gas taxes to make up for a shortfall in transportation funding, which had led to a “pothole-ridden, decaying system of roads, highways and bridges.” More accurately, they hiked taxes to make up for a dearth of leadership and willingness to make tough decisions.
“The roads didn’t fall apart overnight,” the OC Register’s Bill Brough wrote of the hike. “It took decades of irresponsible leadership to create a crisis that Capitol Democrats argued could only be solved with a record-breaking tax hike.”
Republicans opposed the tax increase, arguing that the money to pay for the needed investments could instead come from the general fund, which has grown by $36 billion in recent years. With just a smidge of fiscal discipline, they argued, the legislature could avoid adding more financial pain to families already laboring under one of the highest overall tax burdens.
Rather than stand by idly, Republicans pursued one of the few outlets available to them – a petition to recall Sen. Josh Newman, whose commuter-filled district stands to be harmed the most by the tax increase. A grassroots effort began almost immediately to come up with the 63,593 total signatures that needed to be collected in order to force the recall vote. Fueled by volunteers from local College Republican chapters, the recall effort announced they had collected 85,000 signatures—well above the amount needed—in just a matter of weeks.
Democrats, deciding they had had enough of this grassroots democracy, acted swiftly to squash the effort.
First they used their supermajority to ram through changes to the rules governing recall elections. Rather than pursue the traditional legislative process, Democrats slipped a provision into a bill (which originally funded a new veterans cemetery, no less) that created a 30-day period for citizens to withdraw signatures from a recall initiative, called for a Department of Finance cost analysis, and allowed an additional 30 days for legislative comments on the analysis. Effectively, the legislation added month to the certification timeline, thereby ensuring that all recall elections are held during the June primary, when Democrats benefit from higher turnout.
And then, as a message to any other activist wanting to participate in democracy, the State Democratic party sued a group of College Republicans for having the audacity to help collect signatures.
The lawsuit names three Cal State Fullerton College Republicans — Amanda McGuire, Brooke Paz, and Ryan Hoskins — as defendants, accusing them of “misleading” voters by claiming that the recall would repeal the gas tax. But don’t be fooled, this has nothing to do with what these enterprising students said and everything to do with the fact that they were bold enough to say anything at all. This is about silencing anyone who dare challenge Democrats’ iron fisted grip on the state.
“This lawsuit is a baseless attack on the character of hardworking and passionate activists, as well as a shameful intrusion on the democratic processes that are my right as an American citizen,” Pas told the Daily Wire.
“As we just celebrated the 241st anniversary of our independence, my God-given rights are being threatened by the California Democrats simply because they disagree with me and my colleagues,” Paz continued. “Our elected representatives are supposed to govern by the people and for the people. The people do not want higher taxes, and as proven by the incredible amount of signatures we’ve gathered for this recall petition, the people do not want Newman.”
Sadly, Democrats in California appear to be long past caring what the people want. They’ve consolidated their hold on power and are willing to change the rules or intimidate anyone who threatens their grip. As Lord Acton famously quipped, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” If California voters want to end the corruption, it’s time to stop giving Democrats absolute power.