walter russell mead peter berger lilia shevtsova adam garfinkle andrew a. michta
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California’s New Motto: Blue Heaven or Bust!

Imagine if you could banish all opposition from the island, legislate unchecked, and prove that you were right and they were wrong all along.

Welcome to California. With a supermajority and control of the governor’s mansion, California Democrats can do anything they want. The NYT:

The Democratic Party has controlled the California Legislature for a nearly unbroken stretch of 42 years. Yet control goes only so far: it takes two-thirds of the Legislature to enact a host of important legislation in this state, meaning that even the diminished Republican Party has been able to easily frustrate Democratic ambitions.

But with a swell of electoral victories in November, the Democratic Party has now crossed that boundary and controls two-thirds of both the Senate and the Assembly, giving it the kind of unfettered power that no party has had here for 80 years. […]

“Democrats have unrestricted, unchecked power in the executive and the legislative branch today — and they have not had that for decades,” said James L. Brulte, a former state lawmaker running for state Republican leader. “If you are a Democrat, the good news is that your party is 100 percent in charge of state government. If you’re a Democrat, the bad news is that you don’t get to blame anybody else if things go wrong. So Democrats own it.”

The first signs are that the California Democrats want to increase revenue immediately rather than growing the economy to make a bigger pie, but we’ll see.

If it were up to Via Meadia and voters had given us an unlimited mandate for change, there are three things we would do in California. First, we would first look at ways California could attract more investment and more skilled workers while promoting more small business formation inside the state. Second, we would review the way the state delivers and pays for the services for which it is responsible, with special attention to those that most affect the young and the poor. We would look for ways to do more with less, to reduce the cost of providing government, and to provide it as quickly and creatively as we could. (This would certainly involve an overhaul of the state’s pension system and bureaucratic structure.) Then we would take a look at how the combination of higher revenue from economic growth and lower cost of government could stabilize the state’s financial picture and see what we could do with that flexibility. Are there services that we should add or improve? Taxes that we could cut or that, after due deliberation and full consideration of all the alternatives, we must raise? Long term changes we could set in motion that would create more opportunities for the state’s residents and/or reduce the cost of government down the road?

But regardless of what we think, California voters have spoken. And just as we want to see what GOP states like Michigan do with their new majorities, we want to see what California does and what comes of it.

America is blessed with fifty different laboratories of democracy. Now we can watch in real time as conservatives and liberals in different parts of the country try their hands at addressing the leading issues of the day.

At Via Meadia we will do our best to follow these experiments, especially because we think neither Team Red nor Team Blue really knows how to build for the 21st century. It’s a new time, calling for new methods. Trial and error is the best possible way to go about it…so let the trials and the errors begin!

We hope that the MSM will dial back its fixation on Washington insider politics long enough to give voters around the country a better picture of what is being tried in the fifty states and how the experiments are working out. But in the meantime Via Meadia will be looking at local news sources around the country to give our readers the best information we can find on the developments that will likely shape our future more profoundly than the recurring hissy fits and grandstanding on the Potomac.

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