Thomas Elias: California GOP shows why it’s become irrelevant
Just in case anyone still wonders why the California Republican Party has become a largely irrelevant group holding far less than one-third of the Legislature, only seven of this state’s 53 congressional seats and 23 percent of registered voters … Understanding comes with a quick look at party leaders’ responses to President Trump’s outright racist summertime tweets.
There essentially was no response.
Trump, who routinely vilifies anyone who doesn’t toe his line, went a step farther in attacking four radical new congresswomen who are often accused of anti-Semitism and being outright socialists.
Although three of the four are United States natives, Trump told these members of the so-called “Squad” to “go back” to the “crime-infested places from which they came.” He added that they all “originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total mess.”
For Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, that would mean Somalia, where pirates abound and Trump’s label might apply. But the other three, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, were born in Cincinnati, Detroit and the Bronx, respectively. If those places are crime-infested, the Trump-led federal government is at least partly responsible.
The President’s outburst of irritation at this small group, which has also rebelled against Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, produced an immediate outcry from establishment House Democrats regularly at odds with the Squad. They quickly introduced and passed a resolution rebuking Trump for his “racism,” noting that he criticized only women of color. Four Republicans and an independent joined all Democrats in voting for that.
But California Republicans said nothing critical of Trump, who apparently can do no wrong in their eyes. Not one of California’s vastly diminished corps of GOP congressmen had a negative word for the most outrightly bigoted public statement the President has ever made.
His tweet was also inaccurate, unless he considers America a “crime-infested place.”
Rather than taking their leader to task, Republicans including the top-ranking one in California — Bakersfield Congressman Kevin McCarthy, the GOP’s House minority leader — immediately began a series of apologias for him.
Trump, said McCarthy, was making a point about the four Democrats’ affinity for socialism. “It’s a debate about ideology,” he said, although Trump never mentioned ideology. McCarthy differed only slightly from his golfing buddy in the White House by conceding that “They’re Americans …”
None of this state’s other six Republicans in Congress said a thing, meekly going along with their titular party leader. This, despite the fact some other Republicans in Congress did speak out. Texas GOP Rep. Will Hurd, for one, called Trump’s comment “racist and xenophobic.” And the only black Republican senator, Tim Scott of South Carolina, noted that “No matter our political disagreements, aiming for the lowest common denominator will only divide our nation further.”
Also saying nothing was new state GOP chair Jessica Millan Patterson, the first Latina to lead her party in California. When she sought the job, Patterson said her top priority was broadening the party’s appeal to non-white voters.
Staying silent on Trump’s bigotry merely because he is a fellow Republican won’t do that. Neither will the state GOP’s steadfast opposition to broadening state programs like Medi-Cal to provide health care coverage for youthful undocumented immigrants. Nor its longstanding efforts to kill any gun control measure ever proposed. Nor its voting against every legislative idea that might mitigate California’s housing crunch. And so on.
California Republicans often decry the fact this state has “one-party government.” They’re right, in that few Republicans now reside in the Legislature, although the GOP holds many local offices.
But the state GOP needs to look in a mirror to understand why the most diverse state in American history by vast margins prefers to identify as Democratic and let Democrats control state politics and public policy, even when Democrats do plainly corrupt things like taking donations from big utilities days before passing a bailout plan for those same monopolistic companies.
The California GOP needs to recognize this reality: Tolerate bigotry and you become a bigot in the eyes of the many minorities who make up a majority in California.
Email Thomas Elias at firstname.lastname@example.org. His book, “The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It,” is now available in a soft cover fourth edition. For more Elias columns, go to http://www.californiafocus.net.
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