The California Republican Party’s fall 2019 convention, held last week in Indian Wells, perfectly captured the image of a declining party’s final wheezings of “victory” and “rebirth.” Mike the headless chicken lived for 18 months before expiring, while the CAGOP has atrophied for twenty years (since January 4, 1999). Though the party continues to go through the motions of picking candidates and squabbling over which portion of the platform to surrender next, without a unifying vision, without a strategy, the CAGOP resembles more and more the quarterly duty sex of a failed marriage than a real political movement.
It is fitting that the convention was held where President Obama hosted his failed 2013 summit with Xi Jinping; Obama’s meek efforts at compromise only served to hasten tyrannical China’s rise, just as the CAGOP’s utter surrender to pressure from interest groups and the mercenary consultant class has accelerated the birth of California’s authoritarian, one-party state. That is not to say this publication favors the ascendancy of figures like the “principled conservative” charlatan Travis Allen to party leadership either—it should come as no surprise that the one-note Trumpeter has wholly sold out, and is launching a “conservative” wealth management fund. What the California Republican Party needs is a new generation of leadership determined to take back this state—one wholly separate from the consultants like Chairwoman Jessica Patterson who make their fortunes managing decline, and from the policy and media illiterate baby boomers who, bless their hearts, still cannot get over Ronald Reagan and continue to uphold his—so holy is His name— disastrous, self-serving 11th commandment, “Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican.”
Let us not speak ill of a Ronald Reagan whose amnesty programs sealed California’s fate as a pit of deep blue, and whose defunding of mental health left our veterans and desperate out on the streets. Let us not speak ill of a CAGOP that elected a Republican Oprah Winfrey as governor and played dead at the foot of an advancing liberal tide. Let us not speak ill of a party chairwoman and her army of consultants scrambling over each other’s bodies to get on the captain’s lifeboat and escape to greener pastures in Texas or Washington, D.C. To this, we say enough. Against this cowardice and treachery we repudiate the 11th commandment. As the party’s next generation, we accept the reality of failure and assume the burden of constructing a new vision for the state.
Democrats have articulated their vision—the Green New Deal (GND). Though highly unrealistic and all but guaranteed to have a devastating impact on our nation, the GND wraps itself in imagery and language that America’s overclass and underclass can celebrate and find common cause with. We must counter the colorful and evocative language of the “squad” and Governor Newsom with visual and verbal pyrotechnics of our own; the Overton window of our politics and culture cannot continue to be set by such figures unopposed.
In the coming weeks and months, this editorial board shall begin exploring what it means to be a Republican, and how we ought to communicate this vision to a rapidly changing state and nation. However, only by breaking the 11th commandment and naming the failures within our own ranks will we be able to replace incompetence and managed decline with growth and vigor. The CAGOP has failed us, and if, as former state party chairman Jim Brulte says, California is but the canary in the coal mine for the national Republican party, then the range of our criticism should not be limited to California but extended to the party at large. No one should be safe—not Representative Dan Crenshaw, not predatory groups like Turning Point USA, not Secretary Mnuchin, and certainly not President Trump.
Though the content of this editorial was unanimously approved by The California Review’s editorial board, editor Austin Katz withdrew his support for the piece after learning of its proposed and published title.