It was a New York governor, not one in California, who said conservatives weren’t welcome in the state. But apparently conservatives out here are getting the message. A recent poll found that 46 percent of those who consider themselves “very conservative” have considered leaving California.
Overall, the “high cost of housing is most commonly cited reason for wanting to leave the state” at 71 percent. But the Berkeley IGS Poll also found that “high taxes” (58 percent) and the “state’s political culture” (46 percent) are reasons some are looking to flee.
Those results are largely driven by an unbalanced response. Break down the poll’s findings by political party and ideology, and the cracks really start to show.
For instance, 77 percent of Republicans say high taxes are reason to leave while only 36 percent of Democrats feel that way. Sixty percent of those in the “no party preference/other” category cited high taxes. For Republicans, high taxes are a greater reason, by 14 percentage points, to leave than steep housing costs.
More than three-fourths (76 percent) of those identified as “very conservative” said high taxes were the top reason to consider leaving, as did 76 percent in the “conservative” group. “Very liberal” and “somewhat liberal” logged in at 20 percent and 38 percent respectively.
Meanwhile, the split over the state’s political culture is an unbridgeable width-of-the-universe chasm: 85 percent of Republicans said it’s why they’re thinking about quitting, but only 11 percent Democrats listed it as motivation. The gap between the “very conservative” and the “very liberal” is even wider, 84 percent to 3 percent.
It’s not always been this way. Just six years ago, California Republicans and conservatives felt better about their state, with 29 percent of Republicans saying it was “one of the best places to live” and 31 percent of the “very conservative” holding the same opinion. This year, only 23 percent of Republicans and 19 percent of the “very conservative” believe that. Over that same period, both Democrats and the “very liberal” moved in the opposite direction, with more believing California is “one of the best places to live” in 2019 than 2013.
In addition to high taxes, what could possibly bother California Republicans and conservatives so much that they dream of fleeing? Why does state GOP Sen. John Moorlach of Orange County feel, anecdotally, “like I have someone new telling me that they are thinking about moving to another state on a weekly basis”?
The search for answers should start with the fact that California continues to move from being a civil society to a political society, in which government coercion is the organizing principle.
Think of how Sacramento and local governments have recently invaded private matters: bans on plastic bags, straws, and utensils, as well as natural gas; the road diet; proposals to strip consumers of the right to buy gasoline-powered automobiles; outrageous motor fuel taxes; and a determined campaign to install a single-payer health care regime.
California has a habit of addressing issues that aren’t problems. Banning plastic consumer items, forcing commuters into mass transit, and outlawing fossil fuels might make activists, lawmakers, and voters in the wealthy coastal enclaves feel good, but the intrusions are burdensome and frustrating for the rest.
Political capital and legislative resources are burned up solving superficial and imagined problems, leaving too few available to adequately deal with real issues, such as runaway public employee pensions, the housing and homeless crises, a hostility toward businesses, a middle-class exodus, declining public schools, and a creaky — and unnecessarily punitive — income tax system.
“When,” asks Moorlach, “will the Democrats begin to understand that they are mismanaging blue states, especially California?”
While elected Democrats, progressive activists, Silicon Valley executives, and Hollywood celebrities worship the concept of “diversity,” they reject diversity of political opinion. Would it hurt for them to occasionally show some respect for, and maybe even consider, ideas that don’t increase government’s role rather than summarily dismiss them as bigoted or sexist?
None of this means Republicans and conservatives are officially unwelcome in California. Though that might be some politicians’ objective, they can’t risk publicly alienating the middle.
But those who don’t run for office need not be so guarded. When tech media CEO Peter Leyden and Ruy Teixeira from the left-wing Center for American Progress wrote last year’s “The Great Lesson of California in America’s New Civil War,” they spoke for many on the left in calling for the establishment of a one-party political system in which dissenting thought is shut out.
No, it’s no mystery why Republicans and conservatives want to escape California. The reasons couldn’t be more obvious.
Kerry Jackson is a fellow with the Center for California Reform at the Pacific Research Institute, a nonprofit group advocating for limited government.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.