Sunday, March 15, 2009

How The Republicans Could Win Back California

"The demagogue is one who preaches doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows are idiots." - H. L. Mencken

Hard to figure how things could get much worse for the GOP these days. Barack Obama swept the state vote last November at near record levels, both houses of the State Legislature are overwhelmingly Democrats, and Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (pictured here as a much younger man getting his groove on), is openly considering changing his voter registration to "Decline to State."

(That "Decline to State" thing seems to be a trend that is catching on, especially among Democrats here in Sierra Madre.)

Iconoclastic political writer Joe Mathews, who opines upon such things over at the more often than not excellent California state politics site Fox & Hounds, lays the GOP dilemma out this way:

"Even a guy like me, living on the west side of Los Angeles in the shadow of a government-run art museum currently running an exhibit by contemporary Germans (LACMA), has gotten the news that California conservatives are sticking to their principles in these dark times and opposing things that would bring our society to ruin. Those evils are: European socialism. Governor Schwarzenegger. President Obama. Bailouts. Those gay people who are conservative enough to want to marry. And anyone who negotiates with Democrats."

Now this kind of stuff might appeal to the hardcore amongst conservative Republicans, but for the majority of the voting populace in this deeply blue state that brand of politics is about as alien to California as whatever it is they're doing in Mississippi these days. In other words, by so myopically serving as an example of everything narrow-minded and stubborn, they're making the Democrats look good. Which is unfortunate, because they are in many ways just as lousy.

And as long as the Republicans keep acting, as Mathews puts it, "cult-like," they will remain little more than a powerless if noisy political identity group. A permanent minority made up of legislators largely from those parts of the state where coyotes outnumber people.

But look, and as anyone who followed the events in the successful fight to stop destructive redevelopment in Sierra Madre can tell you, it wasn't local Republicans that worked so hard to demolish our downtown and replace its old town charm with grotesque parti-colored 5 story condos and knickknack shops. Most of which, had they been built, would now stand as empty and bankrupt as those built in the towns surrounding this cantankerous bastion of citizen involvement. The majority of the people who loudly supported redevelopment were Democrats. Including LA County organization Democrats. And believe me, it wasn't just the local ones that got involved.

It is not much of a secret that in the State of California the Democratic Party is in so deep with the redevelopment and real estate lobbies and subsidiary organizations (SCAG, as an example), that it needs a straw to breath. And here in LA County you'd require a microscope to tell them apart. When 10's of thousands of dollars were pumped into this town in the vain hopes of defeating Measure V, it wasn't the Republican Party or those currently allied with it that ponied up the cash to fund the massive (and laughably inept) "No on V" mailing campaign.

Now to suggest that such organizations as the BIA and California Association of Realtors are permanently wedded to the Democratic Party would be absurd, and that is not what I am suggesting here. These are pragmatic business people, and they give their support to the party with the power to deliver what they want. But that the Democratic Party should so willingly tailor its politics in exchange for a steady flow of redevelopment cash into their campaign coffers is not without effect. And the result is enormous political pressure put on LA County cities to give up control over local planning and succumb to the desires of those who wish to build the kind of garbage development you see so much of in neighboring communities.

One of the truly unique things about the politics of Sierra Madre is that the major parties don't really count. It's like you pass through a prism when you cross Michillinda, and all the trite and hackneyed cliches that serve as principles for the major political organizations are fragmented and flutter away. Here conservatives and liberals, moderates and anarchists, and those who don't give a damn for politics as usual, work together without a murmur of dissent. The overall goal, preserving a way of life that is under assault in so many ways, far outstrips such inauthentic considerations.

But is this really unique to Sierra Madre? Or is it just that this is a town that, thanks to the sacrifices of a few good people, found its voice, functioned as a working democracy, and thereby fulfilled its civic responsibilities? And isn't it possible that there are millions of people across this state who are angry about what has been done to their towns and cities, but never found a way to give voice to that anger?

So where does the seemingly lost Republican Party fit in? Certainly here's a political organization that could use some message maintenance. What if the GOP was to step forward and clearly identify redevelopment for what it really is, a Democratic Party vice? And that should it be returned to power it would end once and for all a practice that results in the seizure of peoples' homes in order to favor such things as strip malls and car lots? Or turning beautiful California towns into condo-glut Generica? That preserving traditional city and town life as it is practiced here is not not some sort of impediment to so-called progress, but a California way of doing things that needs to be the priority no matter what the consideration?

I'm not holding out too much hope here, though.  


  1. I urge all Sir Eric's readers to register DECLINE TO STATE. To hell with these political parties. You have to be naive to support any of these politicians. Crooks and bums.
    Register as a DS-Decline to State.
    More importantly, KEEP SIERRA MADRE POLITICS NON-PARTISAN! Neither the Democratic Party, the Republican party or the Green Party should influence our city business.

  2. Thank you, You have hit it right. Many of us have long since realized that it isn't about the Republicrats. When it comes to maintaining and protecting our town's character, we are all one,
    Sierra Madreans.

  3. Maybe we should start our own party. Call it
    the Sierra Madre Party. We'd answer to no one
    but the people who live here.

  4. We already do, its called the Anonymous Party...

  5. Why not, Curly? That works for me.
    The dirts have their own political party THE DIRTS. LOL LOL LOL
    Okay, Dirts, I just set this up for you.....let us have it......think of some names, no profanity please, maybe Sir Eric will have a contest.

  6. 2-30-13----Change We Can Believe In!!!!!

  7. OK - take away profanity and you've removed half of the dirt vocabulary list.

  8. Zimmerman, Watts and MacGillivray

  9. here's another one from H.L. the immortal: there are more morons collected in los angeles than in any place on earth. nailed us, didn't he?

  10. Hey, Joe,
    are you going to Susan's Kiwanis fund raiser for the Mountain Views.......she better not use a judgement was brought against her....again....for using Katina's paper's name. You know, the one Susan stole.

  11. joe - I think you're confusing Mr. Mencken with Woody Allen.

  12. Sir Eric!
    Where did you get that great picture of the Governator?
    How could anyone have voted for him? Oh, yeah, the other candidate Phil A. is a big developer.
    I think he destroyed part of Lake Tahoe area.
    See, everyone....we have no choice on a state or national level. Only in Sierra Madre!
    Good for all of us!

  13. no. take my word for it. mr mencken said it. woody might have ripped him off though

  14. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an art. Excellence is a habit.

    Susan's Kiwani's might want this on their table, if they can read.

  15. I can't say much in favor of the Democrats, but you're dreaming if you think the BIA is some kind of Democratic organ. Some of its biggest operatives in Sierra Madre are serious, long-time Republicans bringing you Nixon-style dirty tricks. The bottom line is that in Sierra Madre, it's very much a Republican thing and the Democratic support is a much more recent deal. Of course, the Dems think that building spells jobs etc and that's their angle. The whole thing is not to be trusted and the Dems should be ashamed of abandoning their long-standing base--that never has a good outcome, but as for exonerating the Republicans, don't go there.

  16. I am concerned that we are straying away from the REAL concern,Sierra Madre.The election is over, get back on target.

  17. roia, good point, but you do realize that the Democrats are vulnerable to an attack from the Republicans on that issue. To the party in power goes the spoils, and that certainly includes vast quantities of developer cash. But with it comes the blame, and there are few towns in California that haven't been hit with the cheaply built condominium blight.

  18. Is anyone going to the Kiwanis scammer?
    Let's get some pictures and a tape!
    Can't wait to hear Henderson's lies. She does shine!
    Caution, watch your wallets.......seriously.

  19. Blight is not confined to one party or another. Condominiums have been used as a cheap way for a builer to make tons of money on cheap construction, leaving the buyer holding the bag for years now. Some of the worst in town were built in the 80s and even earlier. Can't hang that one on one party or another. Growth has been one of Calif's businesses for a long time--it'll come to a halt pretty quick if not already because, there ain't no money honey.

    By the way. Do you know the difference between syphilis and a condominium?

    You can get rid of syphilis.

    Thanks, all.

  20. So in other words no political party represents our
    interests. I guess we really are on our own.