The Corner

Re Don Draper’s California Dreaming

Mike: Your enthusiasm for California is entirely misplaced. Back in 1968 — the year in which this season’s Mad Men takes place — what you wrote about the Golden State was mostly true. As a born-and-bred native now in his sixties, I can attest that — earthquakes aside — California was the place to live, the dynamic and confident state that you describe.

Key word: “Was.” Past tense. Today, it is a wreck. Ronald Reagan would get about 25 percent of the vote. Governor Pete Wilson — I think the only Republican to ever beat Jerry Brown and who ably guided the state to surpluses and was a moderate on social issues — couldn’t get elected to any major state office. 

The once-derided San Francisco values have become California values. The Bay Area completely controls its politics. Every major state-wide office holder comes from S.F.: Governor Jerry Brown was born and bred here. Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom was, until recently, the Mayor of S.F.  The very leftwing attorney general Kamala Harris (who we will make national when her turn arrives) was its very progressive district attorney. Both Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein hail from S.F. And while not a statewide office, we (I live in the Bay Area) brought the country Nancy Pelosi. 

As a result, California is in danger of implosion. I strongly suggest you read what Victor Davis Hanson has written about his native state – often in these pages. He describes what our increasingly radical politics have done to California in the places that tourists don’t see, and it is a tragedy. 

That’s a warning for the rest of the country. And what happens in California doesn’t stay in California. As this administration demonstrates, San Francisco values have gone national.

Wesley J. Smith — Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism.

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