How California Became a Blue-State Role Model


California, once disdained as zany, insubstantial and politically unreliable, has now become a favorite of the blue state crew. From culture and technology to politics, the Golden State is getting all sorts of kudos from an establishment media traditionally critical of our state.

For example, the New York Times recently ran two pieces, one political and the other cultural, that praised this state for its innovation and cool – even in the midst of a horrendous drought.

And to be sure, it’s nice to be a pet – at least I hope that’s what our dog Roxie feels. But we may want to understand why those who traditionally lambasted California now grant us their favors. Although some praise is deserved – both the economy and the cultural scene in California have improved somewhat – much of this shift reflects changes in the political and media culture itself.

How a writer looks at California can be increasingly predicted by the writer’s political orientation. For liberals, the nasty California that produced both Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan has been supplanted by a cooler, greener and more socially progressive state. If you are on the Right, California is beloved for reasons of nostalgia; for the Left, California is where the future once again is being shaped. Those of us more in the middle are simply unsure of what to think.

Read the whole thing at the Orange County Register.

Joel Kotkin is executive editor of and Roger Hobbs Distinguished Fellow in Urban Studies at Chapman University, and a member of the editorial board of the Orange County Register. He is also executive director of the Houston-based Center for Opportunity Urbanism. His newest book, The New Class Conflict is now available at Amazon and Telos Press. He is also author of The City: A Global History and The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050.  He lives in Los Angeles, CA.

Photo courtesy of the National Archives.


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Joel is a fine writer and I

Joel is a fine writer and I agree with everything he says in this piece. However, he failed to mention mass low-skilled immigration as a major factor in the state's decline -- for instance, how job growth, while a good thing, has failed to keep up with population growth.

Thus logic alone tells us there must be a decline in the labor-force participation rate, which is happening all over America (though perhaps not in every state -- he would know). It is also a major contributor (along with trade and automation) to the stagnant, indeed falling wages of the least skilled and most vulnerable segments of our nation's population, African Americans, second- and third-generation immigrants, and poor whites alike.

What's wrong with an across-the-board immigration moratorium (pause, timeout) as one part of a comprehensive program to address these fundamental issues? It's the only non-discriminatory form of immigration reform I can think of, not counting open borders.

Who will speak up for the well-being of the dumb and the clueless? I care about them -- and God must too because he made an awful lot of them. They can lift things and follow directions. Let's give them a decent place in our society, a chance to lead a good life.

Then, while no doubt not for everyone, there is this possibility:

California Blue?

I know little about SF; so, I will comment on what I know: Los Angeles and the California courts.

I am uncertain the extent to which political party is a factor. Maybe it is. However, I know that LA did suffer under decades of horrible GOP Governors. Our last decent Governor was Jerry Brown I. Perhaps, I am more influenced by what the GOP Governors did to the courts. They turned California's highly regarded judicial institution into a base, foul receptacle of corruption and lawlessness. February 12, 2015 CityWatch Justice at Risk Part 2 -- Injustice Plague Infiltrates California’s Courts, by Richard Lee Abrams [Moncharsh] February 9, 2015 CityWatchLA, Justice at Risk: California’s Corrupt Courts, by Richard Lee Abrams [Foley] March 6, 2015 Justice at Risk Part 3 — Perjury Trumps Justice, Written by Richard Lee Abrams

Actually, Gov Arnie took the first step to rescue Los Angeles from Garcetti and developer corruption by his veto of BS 2531, which would have Kelo'ed all of City of Los Angeles.

Then, under Gov Brown II, we got rid of the corrupt Community Redevelopment Agency, and the California Supreme Court refused to reinstate the CRA. THAT was major! What would LA be like today, if an additional $1 BILLION had gone to CRA/LA versus to the City and County?

Garcetti, however, is totally committed to pursuing the same destructive policies which have brought on LA's demise. March 25, 2015, JWalshConfidential, Power Corrupts; Corruption Destroys – by Scott Zwartz April 29, 2015 JWalshConfidential, Garcetti’s Sustainability pLAn is Based Fatally Flawed Data – By Scott Zwartz

If I could back make and force one change on Los Angeles, it would be to have had Joel set forth the planning guidelines for Los Angeles. There would be no density problem and there would be no corruption. But, the world does not run on wouldhaves, couldhave's and shouldhaves.