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Blue Civil War
In California, Green Policies Spark Class Conflict

California’s elite-favored green agenda is driving a wedge between the upper and lower classes in the overwhelmingly liberal state. Resentment toward the political powers that be has been building for some time, and increasingly looks like a full-blown “blue-collar rebellion” against the Democratic Party, says Joel Kotkin:

At least here in California, much of the working class is made up of minorities, who are increasingly the economic victims of the enlightened ones. One place to see this is in Richmond in Northern California, where a Green Party mayor and a similarly aligned planning department have tried to block the refurbishing of Chevron’s large refinery there, which is also the economic bulwark of the area.

The dispute over the refinery suggests divisions that may become more commonplace. Essentially, you have on one side overwhelmingly white, often very-affluent greens, allied with powerful Democratic politicians, arrayed to obstruct the refinery. On the other side, you have minorities, many of them union members, whose livelihoods and high-paying jobs depend on the refinery.

The incipient rift between such blue-collar workers and gentry Democrats is inevitable. The wealthy donors who dominate both local and national Democratic politics, like San Francisco hedge fund mogul Tom Steyer, may have made much of their fortunes in fossil fuels, as the New York Times, among others, have reported. But now, having embraced a stringent environmentalism, the gentry seek to impose their “green” agenda on the hoi polloi. If this hypocrisy isn’t disturbing enough, consider the increasingly top-down nature of environmentalist politics. In the past, conservationists focused on how to protect people from harm and preserve nature, in part, so people might enjoy it.

The piece is well worth reading in full for a compelling preview of the skirmishes ahead; the dynamics Kotkin describes aren’t unique to California.

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  • ShadrachSmith

    A comfortable life for the proles is built on plentiful food and energy. Greens are against either, for moral reasons 🙂

  • Corlyss

    IMO the two groups deserve each other. There’s not an entitlement promoted by the Elites that the one hasn’t whored after, despite the moral hazards of accepting “free” lunches. This is the payment the piper demands, their cooperation in the destruction of the societal factors that make life easy for them. On the Elites’ side, frankly what did they expect in return for peddling the Lotus Eaters’ life-style of everything for free to the great unwashed at the expense of the rich? They got a bunch of amoral hedonists who’s only concern is “what have you given me lately?” and “what? me pay? forget it!” I hope they destroy each other as political forces.

    • Boritz

      There is no real substance to this conflict. Unless this translates into lots of votes against Democrats (It won’t) it’s just sound and fury.

  • Josephbleau

    Wow, California Dems may come to regret a rising Hispanic population. Oil refinery workers can make 6 figures and will figure out who is dealing them out, and its not greedy capitalists who want them to maintain plant operation. The local gentry of trustifarians, retirees, and the professional class don’t need or want these jobs, they want climate and scenery and isolation from the masses. Monterey Ca, meet Monterry Nuevo Leon.

  • LarryD

    The “Greens” are made up of multiple factions with different agendas:

    For a lot of them, environmentalism is a cheap religion, satisfying their need for self-validation (“I recycle, therefore I am a Good Person”) and self-righteousness (“You don’t recycle, therefore you are Bad People”).

    Another faction dreams of a world without “all those other people”, and the romanticized simplicity of pre-industrial life.

    For others, it’s a way of cutting off the ladder they’ve already climbed, protecting them from socioeconomic competition. For them, it’s always been about keeping the lower classes down.

    And then there are the “watermelons”, green on the outside, red on the inside. They’re “just” after power.

    All of them hide their agenda behind Green “morality”, because they’d never get away with it, otherwise.

    Ever since the New Left replaced the Old Left in the ’70s, the Democratic elites have been caring less and less about the working class. It’s past time the working class woke up to the fact.

    • John Stephens

      Too bad nearly all of them were educated in public schools, where independent thinking is systematically discouraged. It’s almost as if someone had planned it that way…

  • Boritz

    “Many of today’s progressives not only are determined to protect their privileges, but seek to limit the opportunities for pretty much everyone else.” -Kotkin [emphasis added]

    Do today’s journalists ever read what they just wrote?

  • Matt Heath

    Definition of an environmentalist is someone who built their cabin in the woods last year

  • PeteLJ

    I wouldn’t necessarily describe any of the workers at the California refinery as part of the “lower classes.” The average pay is probably over $60k to $80k because of the +$4/gal gas that is so prized there.

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