The Corner

Leaving California with a Light Heart

After more than 67 years as a Californian–since my birth–I have moved to the Commonwealth of Virginia, following my wife to DC after she obtained a prime journalism gig in the nation’s capital.

Once I would have left California with a heavy heart. Not now, for reasons I explain more fully at First Things:

Today, radical governance is the rule at both the state and big city levels. The California Republican party self-destructed, allowing the Jacobin wing of the Democrat party to take absolute control.

How skewed to the left have the state’s politics become? Due to a voter-approved initiative that has the two highest primary vote-getters appearing on the general election ballot regardless of party, some November races for major state offices are contests between a leftwing Democrat and a radical Democrat.

“San Francisco values,” once something of a national joke, drive contemporary California politics with a whip hand. Indeed, until the Los Angeles–area congressman was recently appointed Attorney General, San Francisco politicians controlled every important statewide office…

San Francisco’s predominance drives public policy into ever more extreme liberalism. With the election of President Donald Trump, “Calexit” activists plot to put a proposal on the 2018 ballot in support of constitutional secession. A recent poll found that a whopping one-third of Californians want to secede—and this before the campaign has gained major steam.

I describe how California no longer solves problems effectively. A new eastern span of the Bay Bridge took more than two decades to complete, and a few years later, rust and corrosion are already calling into question its safety.

Then, there is the tragedy of the Central Valley, sacrificed on the altar of environmentalism and coastal elite indifference –so powerfully and repeatedly described by Victor Davis Hanson on these pages and elsewhere.

I conclude my lament:

So, I leave behind the mess with a light heart, glad to have escaped before the economic and cultural collapse I fear will result from the public-employee pension crisis or another tech bust (not to mention the “Big Ones” that are overdue on the San Andreas and Hayward faults, which could do to Los Angeles or San Francisco what a Vesuvius eruption would do to Naples).

I am sure many contented Californians would say, “Don’t slam the door as you leave.” I get that.

And, to be sure, the state is never beyond hope. California’s intrinsic creative dynamism remains…But that is going to take reasonableness and common sense. In the current radicalized California, both virtues seem as exhausted as the gold nuggets once mined to such good fortune from California’s foothill streams.

Don’t get me wrong. I still love California. But sad to say, I am glad to be a new Virginian.

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