“Who Lost California?” The ‘When,’ the ‘Who,’ and the ‘Why’ of California’s Decline from Midwest-on-the-Pacific to Brazil-on-the-Pacific


(Note: The title of this post is a reference to the
late-1940s’ and early 1950s’ “Who Lost China?”)

This essay is a foray into how California’s “Third World-ization” — as the Wall Street Journal and the National Review and many others have put it — came to pass. That is is to say, the “loss” of California.

The state is no longer a place of opportunity for average, core Americans, and has turned from a Midwest-on-the-Pacific to a Brazil-on-the-Pacific.

The question stands to be asked and answered are demanded: Who lost California? When, and why, and how. Who might have saved California?

(Adapted and expanded from a discussion at Steve Sailer’s blog.)

— — —

Here is California’s racial situation, graphed over time:

California Population by Race - 1940 to 2020

(‘White’ is White non-Hispanic; all data from US Census for all years for which White non-Hispanic data is available; see sources and numbers in text format below; Nonwhites refers to the aggregate of all Hispanics, Blacks, Asians, and others who are not classified as “White Non-Hispanic.”)

— — —

The decline of California; from a Midwest-on-the-Pacific to a Brazil-on-the-Pacific

California today is a dysfunctional, one-party, left-wing state with a shrinking White-Christian minority, a bankrupt treasury, a rising homeless population, electricity problems, a large-and-continuing-to-expand recent-foreign-origin majority, endless traffic, recently-legalized marijuana and other decadent political programs.

There are strong parallels here with a Third World society. California does have tens of millions of Third Worlders, and like much of the Third World, Latin America in particular, it also has a racial overclass — in California’s case, largely White-Christian and Jewish — separated from the vast Third World majority (who are, in this case, of immigrant origin); there is also a parallel Asian immigrant technocratic class, with the latter a possible midcentury replacement overclass, or at least bound to be co-administrators of Third World California.

This California is increasingly akin to a dead weight on the US, certainly evidently so in politics:

Have you seen California recently? They gave us President Nixon and President Reagan. Good luck with that. Before the first vote is cast on election day, Democrats already have [California’s electoral votes], because of immigration. — Ann Coulter

I notice that “Third World California,” as a concept, has entered centrist discourse, and this even before the October and November 2019 power blackouts which proved such a nice metaphor for what many feel, in general terms, about the state. The headline of a lead National Review article on California in mid 2019 was “America’s First Third-World State”:

national reivew - americas first third world state

“America’s First Third-World Sate”: California

The characterization of a California sinking into Third World conditions, or more precisely “Brazilianized” conditions, was present ten, twenty, and thirty years ago, it was largely on the margins. It is now out in the open and hard to ignore.

Brazilianization, as defined by Michael Lind, is:

high-tech feudal anarchy, featuring an archipelago of privileged whites in an ocean of white, black and brown poverty.

Wealthy, white enclaves in California remain, and will continue to do well for the foreseeable future. The broad-based, middle-class society of those who built the state in the 19th and 20th centuries — White-Christian California; WASP California; what can be called “classic-America California” — is now, while not gone, is certainly marginal, having been squeezed out both culturally and physically, in a long-running process of Third Worldization. California has been Brazilianized.

The people would certainly have voted against Third Worldization, if they had ever been given the chance. The political leadership that sympathized with the majority, such as it was, proved unable or unwilling to stop it.

— — —

“Who Lost California?” — Questions

Introductory Q. What led to California’s inability to maintain demographic stability?

Introductory A. There are multiple causes, all tied up with national-level cultural and political changes that emerge in the third quarter of the 20th century across the West, which can be grouped into two main categories:

(Cause 1) The failure of our leadership to defend our interests — including lack of foresight, disorganization, lack of courage or will, or era-specific political distractions that wasted time, energy, and resources; the failure of center-right conservatives and the Republican Party specifically;

(Cause 2) The emergence of a “hostile elite” in national-level US politics (which, as it happens, had several of its strongest bases within classic-America, conservative California); this hostile elite is one which feels distinct from the nation it oversee and is familiar to observers today. In other words, classic-America California was swamped by foreigners because of carelessness by its leadership and by sustained pressure from an elitist, hostile political class. This essay focuses on the first, but as will be shown (as in the case of the takedown of immigration-restrictionist potential governor Reinecke in 1974 by same national cultural-political elite then involved in taking down President Nixon), the two cannot be fully separated).

These two para-causes have mutually interacted with each other since the 20th centuy Q3 (accelerating in Q4), resulting in a drive towards the bottom which has given us Third World California and which threatens to do the same on a national scale, perhaps even hearkening a breakup of the United States in the forseeable future.

Q. When was California lost? (A. The loss/decline is an ongoing process. The data does, though, show us important milestones and crossover points. For the census bureau, the crossover to under 50% White was 1997; the crossover point to below half White-Christian was early, about 1990. The statewide White-Christian two-thirds majority, which had easily held since the emergence of the state in the 1840s (generally at 85-90%), was breached in 1974.)

Q. What was the critical decade in the loss of California? (A. Probably the 1970s. By 1990 is was too late for an in-system political solution.)

Q. Does the Left agree that California has declined? Is “the decline of California” just a right-wing talking point? (A. Increasingly, they do acknowledge it.)

Q. Why have Whites been leaving California since the early 1990s? (A. Cultural pessimism induced by mass immigration and a left-wing hostile elite is a major factor.) (See the case study of the 1992 emigration of political activist and California native Heidi Beirich.)

Q. Who lost California? (A. No single person lost California. Being forced to pick one person — or one very specific group, or one specific time period or set of events — can be a useful thought-exercise, and the results instructive, if not necessarily to be taken fully seriously as in a conclusive manner. This essay explores the candidates and the critical periods. Many US conservatives may be surprised to learn that a prime candidate for who lost California, in such a thought-exercise, is Ronald Reagan, two-term governor of the state.

reagan on amnesty

What is certain is that the political leadership as a whole failed to make a full-on effort to reverse course when there was still time. This essay tries to reconstruct a political narrative for what happened in Q3 and Q4 of the 20th century to California, and focuses on what specific political figures did or could have done at particular times.)

Q. Who might have saved California, in an alternate-history scenario whereby another candidate won this or that election? (A. A review of the post-Reagan governors of California through the 1990s, and their principal opponents, provides some grounding here. I find that possible junctures at which a figure or movement could have emerged save classic-America California could be a win by Ed Reinecke in 1974 or Pete Wilson in 1978. See also Best Bets on who could have saved California, a summary of the findings of this section.)

Q. What next for the California Question in the 2020s and 2030s? (A. The chances of some form of California separation increase by the year, probably by mutual agreement as California becomes more and more dysfunctional.)

Q. What are the lessons for the rest of us from the decline of California? (A. The most important is that Immigration has Consequences, a concept that deserves honorary capitalization. The conventional telling of how the Republicans lost California ignores the effects of immigration policy. Secondary lessons are on the loss of California in the late 20th century are on political dynamics, on center-right conservatives and the role they play, and on timing. They are spread throughout this essay. On timing, the US as a whole appears to stand, circa 2020, where California stood circa 1985, which means that if the 1990 estimate for the in-system irrevocable loss of California is right, we are nationally now very close to the abyss and the loss of the United States itself.)

The below will be an exploratory essay addressing each of these questions in more depth. Comments from from any who read this and know the state and its political history would be appreciated.

— — —

“Who Lost California” — On Timing

As shown in the graph, the crossover point at which Nonwhites surpass Whites in total number California occurs about 1997.

California Population by Race - 1940 to 2020 - five year intervals

But this is not the whole story. I would propose, more meaningfully for this analysis, using White-Christians of European origin — the US ethnocultural core; the people who built California; the confident supermajority of classic-America California.

Questions
– [a] When did White-Christians lose their two-thirds majority status in California?
– [b] When did White-Christians lose their simple majority status in California?

The number of White-Christians of European origin in a given year will be a certain fraction of those counted as ‘White’ on the census but who are not White-European-Christians. I believe this could be 15-20% today, but was more like 5-10% in 1970. (An example of the types I mean would be certain peripheral ex-Soviet peoples; Steve Sailer’s pesudo-anthropological category “Men with Gold Chains”). I’d like to see data on this, but the one thing that is certain is that these immigrant-origin Whites’ share is larger today than it was in the 1970s.

The number of White-Christians of European ancestry in California, by this estimate, would be around 14-14.5 million in 1970, and down to circa 12 million by 2020.

Using these numbers (see data below), these crossover points would be:

– [a] California drops below two-thirds White-Christian circa 1974;
– [b] California drops below half White-Christian circa 1990.

This is over the total resident population; not legal residents, nor voting citizens, nor working-age population, etc., but total residents, and so political and perhaps other consequences will lag by some years, which is exactly what we observe.

(The California ‘crossover’ points are about forty years before the same for the US as a whole; the latter is set to come down on us in the 2030s. Thus “The Lesson of California.”)

— — —

California Population Data — White Population by Year

“White non-Hispanics” in California (per US Census; see Sources)
– 1940 census: 6.2 million
– 1950 census: (No Data) – probably 9 to 10 million
– 1960 census: (No Data) – probably 12 to 12.5 million
– 1970 census: 15.2 million (5% sample) or 15.6 million (15% sample)
– 1980 census: 15.8 million
– 1990 census: 17.0 million
– 2000 census: 15.8 million
– 2010 census: 15.0 million
– 2018 census (est.): 14.55 million
– 2020 census: around 14.40 million?

Estimated Whites of European-Christian origin in California (see Sources):
– 1960: 11.5 to 12.0 million (at 95%+ of the ‘White’ total)
– 1970: 14.0 to 14.5 million? (at 90-95% of the ‘White’ total)
– 1990: 14.5 to 15.25 million? (at 85-90% of the ‘White’ total)
– 2020: 11.5 to 12.5 million? (at 80-85% of the ‘White’ total)

In simple terms, these numbers indicate, roughly, that the number of the White-European-Christians in California in the early 2020s is at the same level as it was in the late 1950s [!], a net loss of up to four million White-European-Christians since the peak circa the 1980s or early 1990s.

Another way of saying this: A full one-quarter of White Americans of mid-late 20th century “California ancestry” have left the state, on net, since emigration began circa 1990, which probably makes California the biggest White emigration state in the US in absolute terms but probably also in relative terms for the past thirty years.

In most other countries in the world, this kind of decline in a particular region would inspire claims of ethnic cleansing and inquires by the UN. One hears regularly even today in the US media about distant parts of China about which they alleged something similar.

It astounding ethnocultural retreat/defeat to behold — the relatively rapid retreat of the core, founding stock. The origins of this retreat/defeat, which has led to Third World California (or “Brazilianized California“), are the subject of this exploratory essay.

Sources
— 1940, 1970, 1980, 1990 data: “Historical Census Statistics on Population Totals By Race, 1790 to 1990, and By Hispanic Origin, 1970 to 1990, For The United States, Regions, Divisions, and States” [Sept. 2002], compilation of California results up to 1990 is in Table 19. “California – Race and Hispanic Origin: 1850 to 1990.”
— 2000 data: “Profile of General Demographic Characteristics: Census 2000 Summary File 1 (SF 1) 100-Percent,” for California (here). Not Hispanic or Latino, White alone is at 15,816,790.
— 2010 data at “DP-1 – Profile of General Population and Housing Characteristics: 2010” for California. “Not Hispanic or Latino, White alone” is at 14,956,253.
— The latest census bureau estimate is 14.55 million Whites in California as of 2018. At this rate, California will clock in at around 14.4 million Whites on the April 2020 census.
— “Whites of European-Christian origin” population figures are estimates by the author. This calculation is meant, for political analysis purposes, as a proxy for the population stock of classic-America California, and includes all those of European-Christian ancestry regardless of religious belief or affiliation. By design it excludes those of non-European, foreign-immigrant origin who sometimes get classified as White (e.g., Arabs, Iranians, Armenians, and other Middle Easterners, Jews, and Muslims).

The upcoming census is set for April 2020. Results may be released starting in Q1 2021. How many more Whites will California have lost? What about 2030? A glance at the lines suggests an even wider gap. At what point does it end and population stabilize?

— — —

What (when) was the critical period for whether classic-America California would be saved or list? The point-of-no-return?

I suggest, above, that 1974 was the most likely year White-Christians of European origin fell below the comfortable-majority two-thirds mark. If we have to pick a decade, a politically critical decade during which something could have been done within the system as it existed (i.e., no radical solutions, no deus ex machina scenarios), something to prevent what has since happened to California, the 1970s may be the best candidate for the critical period.

If it’s not the 1970s, it must be either of the decades on its flanks, the 1960s or he 1980s. A stronger case might be made for the 1960s than for the 1980s.

By 1990, the point of no return had probably been reached. The absolute decline in California White numbers that begins about 1990 and continued through the 1990s, 2000s, and 2010s (with possibly one or two net growth years in the late 1990s, against up to thirty years of net loss) signals that a Rubicon had been crossed.

Immigrants continued to be effectively “waved in.” There was no legal mechanism a moderate government could use to stop it. The rest of the story up to now — absent some kind of “counter revolution” scenario, which did not come — has played out as could have been (and was) predicted by astute observers on the Right at the time. And ‘California’ is now playing out nationally, as many have been warning.

The process was of a variety of broad de-Americanization and socio-economic stratification (“Brazilianization”). It is probably precisely for this reason that so many of the hardline, national-level immigration-restrictionist activists of our era are of California origin — including notably Steven Miller (born Aug. 1985; raised in Southern California). They know of what they speak. Another manifestation of the Lesson of California.

The immigration-restriction efforts that went on in 1990s California are, then, rightly seen as an admirably-earnest-but-doomed rearguard effort at maintaining something like Classic White California such as it existed ca. 1970, but that came about twenty years late. The Lesson of California is that we may be nationally, fast approaching the position California was in by 1990.

(As a sidenote, I should say here that some would say the California model, as it developed by the mid-20th century, the 1950s and 1960s, may have been fatally flawed in any case, but that’s another question beyond the scope of this essay.)

— — —

The Left Acknowledges California’s Decline

Figures of the Left, including the immigrant Left, are reluctantly also saying that California has declined. (Their California, won fair-and-square by right-of-conquest, by right-of-migration!)

Farhad Manjoo (b.1978), a left-wing immigrant journalist who has lived in California since the mid 1980s, is one. He says he is now pessimistic on California:

I’m starting to suspect we’re over. It’s the end of California as we know it.

The founding idea of this place is infinitude — mile after endless mile of cute houses […] the myth of endless space

One by one, those myths are bursting into flame. We are running out of land, housing, water, road space

So California is too crowded, and California is in some kind of state of general decline, as viewed by Farhad Manjoo.

farhad manjoo cnbc.png

Was California overcrowded, running out of space or housing, facing Third World-like conditions, and/or in general decline in the early 1960s? Because at that time it had the same number of Whites of European-Christian origin as it does today. As surprising as it may sound in these terms, due to White new outmigration, all the net population growth in California since as long ago as ca. 1960 [!] has been from foreign immigrants, a worryingly unstable situation from an ethnocultural-political perspective. A kind of civilizational pyramid scheme.

A commenter named Moses says:

CA has fewer Whites than in 1990. The crowding has come from mass non-White immigration like Mr. Fargoo.

As CA population begins to resemble third world, CA living conditions and infrastructure begin to resemble third world.

I’m not sure exactly when Whites of European-Christian origin started leaving California, on net, but the census data suggests it was the early 1990s.

Meanwhile, the Farhads and the Manjoos kept moving in. The locals tried to stop it, but were overruled by judges with names like Pfaelzer who ruled that even something as tame as favoring citizens over illegal foreigners was unconstitutional and therefore illegal (in addition to being highly immoral [except for Israel]).

— — —

Why have Whites been leaving California?

The scale of White outmigration for US Whites is even greater than implied in the graph, because a significantly higher share of the California Whites of the 2010s are of foreign origin than was the case at the height of the “classic-America California” in the mid-20th century (see Population Data section above).

California Population by Race - 1940 to 2020

Why have so many White Americans left California?

Some common answers to this are: High land prices, taxes, perceptions of limited opportunity (at least for lower- and middle-class Whites), overpopulation or overdevelopment (Southern California as an enormous, thousands-of-square-miles of suburb) and traffic, formerly smog, all leading or contributing, for the core and founding stock (“classic-America California”), to cultural pessimism. Seeing the total domination of entire industries by foreigners can lead to, or reinforce, cultural pessimism. One of those industries has been state politics, since the 2000s.

Hence Ann Coulter’s warnings about the same happening in other ‘red’ states; in her words: “The entire country’s about to be over if we don’t stop immigration,” interview with Eric Metaxas, Oct. 11, 2019 (see 16:25-18:15 in video).

Steve Sailer gave the same account, of cultural pessimism as inducement to emigrate, in March 2002:

a net of almost 2.2 million California citizens moved out of the state during the last decade [1990 to 2000], with the greatest outflow from 1994 to 1998

Steve added in 2006, in reference to his 2002 UPI article, that the emigration of Whites which began in the 1990s is

in part due to changes in the state caused by illegal immigration and the huge Hispanic baby boom in California that followed the 1986 amnesty.

In 2002, he continued:

According to Milken Institute demographer William H. Frey, they tended to be in the mid-income range, family oriented, and fairly conservative in politics. In contrast, those who moved to California from the rest of the United States — often drawn to jobs in Silicon Valley and Hollywood — tended to be more economically elite and socially liberal.

A commenter named adreadline suggests:

The long legacy of the 1992 Los Angeles riots? Although for whatever reason it doesn’t seem to drive out the Asians (save for the Koreans, I guess), does it?

Where the April 1992 riots specifically fit into the Who Lost California narrative is probably a symbol of that ongoing loss of cultural control. Symptom, not cause.

Not to be overlooked is the presence and strong hand of California’s sneeringly hostile political class, especially strong in the twin strongholds of Los Angeles/Hollywood and San Francisco/Bay Area, that encouraged foreigners to come in by the millions and undermined all counter efforts. A famous instance (LA Times headline, Nov. 19, 1997):

Prop. 187 Found Unconstitutional by Federal Judge

A federal judge [Mariana Pfaelzer] in Los Angeles ruled Friday that Proposition 187, the divisive 1994 ballot initiative targeting illegal immigrants, violates…the Constitution

As for the early-1990s specifically and the beginning of net White outmigration. Some would point to the end of the Cold War as an immediate, structural economic cause. It’s true that this caused the loss of SoCal defense jobs in the early 1990s.

(The main character in the early-1990s rage movie Falling Down had lost his middle-class job as a result; set in a hostile, gloomy LA, the kind of place one wants to get away from, Falling Down a case study in White-California cultural pessimism in that era.)

Anyway, job losses in the early 1990s recession does not explain continuing White population losses in the 2000s and 2010s, which continues steadily, and for which immigrant-induced departures and cultural pessimism would seem to be strongest.

Case study: The emigration from California of Heidi Beirich. Another post here at Hail To You profiles Heidi Beirich, her family origin, ancestry, and early life. Heidi is one of those of White-Christian California origin, having been born and raised in the state in 1967 to parents who arrived in 1961, during California’s ascendant period. She left the state in 1992 or 1993 and has not lived there again, on a permanent basis, since.

heidi beirich - democracy now

Why did Heidi Beirich leave California? The most direct answer is that she left for PhD work at Purdue, Indiana. But she could have done something similar in her native state, where she got both her BA and MA degrees. After graduating, she could have returned to her native state, but instead chose an internship with the left-wing political commissar group the SPLC in Alabama, where she remained until 2019.

Beirich was thus at the leading edge of the large White outflow from California. These are all personal choices, to be sure. But the Heidi Beirich story does provide a lot of useful material on the politics of the loss of California.

During her time growing up in Southern California (Palm Springs in Riverside County, and Vista in San Diego County), Beirich somehow ended up on the dreary path towards radicalization into the Ethnomasochist Left, a scene in which she became enmeshed in the 1990s and from which she has not emerged since. Her turn towards the ethnomasochist Left is a subject of much of the Heidi Beirich post, both giving her own telling and in my own conjectures based on my research into her ancestry that went into writing that post:

I suggest above that Heidi Beirich’s formative years in Southern California, during the period when the state was fast losing its White-Christian supermajority, could have been fertile ground for Heidi’s left-wing radicalization. Those political conditions possibly reacted with something in her personality to produce a kind of Stockholm Syndrome by which she psychologically dove into the ascendant side.

I also propose as a possibility that something in her German-born mother’s political-psychological biography may have led Heidi to turn hard left, which you can read and evaluate there. In any case, Heidi is personally a product of Southern California during its critical period.

The Heidi Beirich mini case study here, therefore, straddles both the categories of White-Christian emigration from California, a major theme of this post, and the presence of a “hostile elite” (Beirich having been a smart, talented, ambitious aspiring elite herself by the late 1980s and 1990s). The latter is a major (but not the sole) reason for the former and for the loss of California generally.

Beirich’s comments on the politics of the Southern California she knew in the 1980s are interesting in the context of both the Loss of California being explored in this post and the views that are probably fairly characteristic of n elite (actual and aspirant) of her time and place.

Her comments on Reagan are especially notable given that Reagan is the prime candidate for the ‘who’ in Who Lost California. If one must choose one single figure responsible for the loss of California, Reagan’s name would be very high on the list indeed, and a look at Reagan’s political career and legacy forms the next section.

— — —

“Who Lost California?” — Overview of Key Political Personalities and Electoral Cycles

This and the following several section attempts a political analysis of the beginning of California’s decline, through an analysis of political personalities and state politics in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Under whose watch was California ‘lost’? What might have been done? Was there a political solution, if certain elections had gone differently?

Ronald Reagan

A commenter named Ed says:

One could argue good ole Ronnie finished off Cali once as governor, then as president.

1_reagan_baz_web1

REAGAN: Was his “lasting legacy” the loss of California?

Ronald Reagan’s political career, in brief review:

– Hollywood career (‘B’-movies and television), 1937 to early 1960s
– televised speech for Goldwater brings Reagan to national attention, Oct. 1964;
– begins own campaign for California governor, late 1965:
– elected California governor, Nov. 1966;
– re-elected governor, Nov. 1970;
– end of governorship, Jan. 1975;
– runs for president, 1976 (lost nomination to Ford);
– elected President, Nov. 1980 (defeats Carter);
– re-elected president, Nov. 1984 (defeats Mondale)
– signs devastating illegal-alien amnesty into law, Nov. 1986;
– end of presidency, Jan. 1989.

By the the 1990s and especially 2000s, Ronald Reagan (d.2004) was widely admired in mainstream US conservative circles. Expressed admiration for Reagan is a sign that an otherwise-unknown interlocutor is a conservative. The retrospective cult-of-personality around Reagan remained with us in the 2010s and is unlikely to disappear in the 2020s.

But Reagan’s domestic record is mixed. He was in office as governor of California, and held a strong hand in the state’s politics by especially the early 1970s, when a net increase of several hundred thousand immigrants per year was pushing the state rapidly towards its critical turning point, when White-Christians of European origin lost our two-thirds majority status in that state for the first time. I estimate above that this crossover occurred in or about 1974, which was Reagan’s last year in office.

Why didn’t Reagan do more?

According to Pat Buchanan’s political biography of Richard Nixon in the years 1966-1968, the Nixon campaign’s greatest fear in 1968 was Reagan entering the presidential race. (This from The Greatest Comeback; published by Pat in 2014 as a kind of memoir of his time as Nixon’s closest aide for much of the 1966-68 period; the book consists of reminiscences of and insights derived therefrom). Reagan was seriously considering a run in 1968 but finally decided against it, backing Nixon.

After the Nixon era ended in the Deep State takedown we know as Watergate, the Morning-in-America Reagan mythology was waiting to coalesce, and did. Reagan entered more-or-less full-time presidential campaign mode as of circa mid 1975, lost the R nomination to Ford in 1976, but came back in 1980 and won the presidency twice. By the time Reagan finished his presidency in Jan. 1989, California was already lost.

The point here is to say that whatever Reagan was doing in California in the late 1960s and 1970s, he was already aiming for 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, three thousand miles to the east. We know he had presidential aspirations as early as 1967. As a presidential aspirant he must have believed/realized that he could not be seen to be any kind of hardliner, despite his conservative credentials. If one is looking for why Reagan didn’t do more in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when he had such a strong hand to play in California and could have accomplished nearly anything in the state, this really is it.

There is more to the story, though, in that Reagan went with the devastating 1986 amnesty in the middle of his second and by law final term, which means there was no longer any electoral explanation.

The devastating 1986 ‘Reagan’ amnesty legalized several million illegals and induced millions more to come, as studies have shown. California was likely hardest hit, the amnesty seemingly guaranteeing the emergence of a left-wing voting supermajority with demagogic-Third World overtones which as if on queue did begin to emerge ten years or so after the amnesty was signed. That coalition stands triumphant as of the 2010s, with the loss of every Republican congressional seat even in conservative Orange County in Nov. 2018.

DEC-1986-228x300 everybodys magazine reagan amnesty

Dec. 1986 issue of Caribbean magazine (Everybody’s) celebrating the Reagan amnesty

As ’86 amnesty itself may have been the political death-blow to California, and as it was imposed from Washington, by California’s ex-governor, one cannot escape the conclusion that it would have been better, from a Loss of California perspective, had Reagan never been governor or president at all.

cc_reagan86_130415_wmain

Ronald Reagan, whatever his instincts, failed. He was in the right place at the right time to have done more. The cult of personality around Reagan by much of White America today is, viewed in this light, wrong.

.

Who, if anyone, could have saved California?

A safe bet on saving classic-America California would probably required a crusading immigration restrictionist in office during the Reagan governshorship. Ronald Reagan himself, in office, was actually a don’t-rock-the-boat center-rightist with presidential ambitions, as discussed above. Ronald Reagan was no crusading immigration restrictionist.

Recall also that during his last three years in the governor’s office (1972 to 1974), Governor Reagan was witness to the organized takedown of another Californian who had risen all the way to the presidency (Nixon) targeted, harassed, and destroyed by the Deep State and elements of the elite political class that so hated him. If Reagan wanted the White House, and it was within his reach by the early 1970s, Watergate was as a warning.

The political neutralization of the hostile-elite political class that took down Nixon — one axis of which was/is California’s very own Hollywood — might be fairly counted as a prerequisite for any inside-the-system salvation of classic-America California scenario. That is something that cannot easily be “alternate-history’ed” because it is so wide and complicated, far beyond the scope of this essay.

The next few gubernatorial terms after Reagan were also critical, and a patriotic immigration restrictionist with strong political capital to work with may have been able to turn things around.

The critical, post-Reagan governorships were those elected in 1974, 1978, 1982, 1986, 1990. The latter of these are already pushing it, and I don’t believe any inside-the-system solution was possible even by 1990. The Pete Wilson governorship (elected Nov. 1990; re-elected Nov, 1994), as admirable as it was, was too little, too late.

“Who Lost California?” — On the post-Reagan Governors of California

Jan. 1975: Ronald Reagan leaves office after serving eight years; as of Reagan’s first election in the 1966 election season, Whites outnumbered Nonwhites 3.5-to-1 in California, though there was a considerably larger advantage still among legal residents and voting citizens. The same ratio was approaching 2.5-to-1 by the 1974 election season.

(After Reagan)

Jan. 1975 to Jan. 1983: The (first) governorship of Jerry Brown (D), elected twice, first (Nov. 1974) defeating Hugh Flournoy (R), 50-47, then (Nov. 1978) defeating Evelle Younger, 56-37; (note that Jerry Brown came back in the 2010s to serve two more terms, Jan. 2011 to Jan. 2019);

Jan. 1983 to Jan. 1991: the governorship of George Deukmejian (R), also elected twice;

– Then came Pete Wilson, serving Jan. 1991 to Jan. 1999, also elected twice, including the dramatic immigration-restrictionist triumph of 1994.

About the time Wilson was elected to his first term, the number of White-Christians of European ancestry fell below 50% for the first time in the state’s history; just thirty-five years earlier, California had had a 10-to-1 White-Christian supermajority.

— — —

A closer look at these governors and their opponents.

Jerry Brown (1938-) was, and is, a well-known left-winger. (He was elected again, in old age, in Nov. 2010 and Nov. 2014, serving to age 80. He thus had 16 years as governor between 1975 and 2019, and his chosen successor, left-winger Gavin “Sanctuary City” Newsom, is the current governor.)

1970s-running-for-Gov-2-300.jpg

Brown’s main opponent in 1974 was Houston (Hugh) Flournoy (1929-2008) — himself a moderate and by all appearances a typical, mid-twentieth-century, classic-California WASP of the kind who built the state.

flournoy

The same description would appear to broadly apply to Brown’s 1978 opponent, Evelle Younger (born 1918 in Nebraska; died 1989), a lawyer by background and another conservative-minded White-Protestant.younger--1978

I’m not sure either Flournoy or Younger were up to the task of reversing course of the ship-of-state and pushing back the deluge, given the dark clouds then forming. Maybe no man could have done it. Maybe it was driven by cultural forces, and effectively directed by the hostile elite, and that any man who really tried to push back would have been destroyed.

Flournoy had defeated conservative Ed Reinecke (1924-2016) in the 1974 Republican primary. Reinecke, of German-Lutheran origin, “had risen quickly in Republican politics, winning a seat in Congress in 1964 as a 40-year-old businessman with no political experience” (LA Times obituary) and is considered to have been a traditional conservative. He was Lieutenant Governor Jan. 1969 to Oct. 1974, most of Reagan’s governorship. The ‘Watergate’ Deep State hitjob, then-ongoing in 1974, had conjured up some obscure reason to indict the conservative Reinecke, which was enough to cost Reinecke the primary.

ed reinecke - pds019361-1_20161228

Ed Reinecke, the man who might have saved California

Reinecke may have been, temperamentally, “the one.” Right time, right place. He possibly could have done more than Flournoy and certainly would not have allowed as much damage as left-wing Jerry Brown.

As testament to the kind of governor that Reinecke might have been, had he made it into the governor’s mansion in ’74: The top Youtube result for a search for “Ed Reinecke” is, as of this writing, an Oct. 10, 1969, TV news report which opens with the words “Lt. Governor Ed Reinecke’s contribution to border surveillance…”!

To see/hear Reinecke speaking, see also this press conference from 1969; we see and hear a man who is, by temperament, a classic-Americana conservative.

ed reinekce 1969 hearing

Lt. Gov. Ed Reinecke, 1969

(A postscript on Reinecke: He reemerged in state politics in the 1980s, chairing the state Republican Party for a time, probably influencing the too-late populist movement that got its act together only in the 1990s with the Pete Wilson campaign and immigration-restrictionist ballot measures of that time.)

As for the 1978 race: The Republican nominee, Evelle Younger, was formerly California’s Attorney General who had pressed for felony convictions for left-wing protesters, and therefore not necessarily a moderate. On immigration, Younger defeated several primary opponents for the Republican nomination: Los Angeles Police Chief Edward Davis (1916-2006), State Assemblyman Kenneth Maddy (1934-2000), and (later, at least) immigration-restrictionist Pete Wilson (1933-). What is remarkable about the June 1978 primary election in California was its high turnout: 69% (vs. 70% for the general election itself). In the ‘Brazilianized,’ one-party-state California of recent years, this is unthinkable, and turnout has become low — about 30% in the 2000s and 2010s, with a low of 25% (2014).

The 1978 Republican primary, which has been characterized by some a s “taxpayers’ revolt” over the presence of Proposition 18 on the ballot to greatly lower taxes, was split 41-30-20-9 (Younger-Davis-Maddy-Wilson, respectively), with Younger winning the nomination but not resoundingly. After Proposition 18 (placing strict restrictions on taxes) passed in June 1978 (63 to 34), leftist Gov. Jerry Brown, who had campaigned against it, came out in favor, and drew in the political center.

Pete Wilson, who had taken 9% in the June primary, would go on to be elected governor in Nov. 1990, reelected Nov. 1994, on a strong and popular immigration-restriction platform. By the time Wilson got into office in 1991, though, the demographic Rubicon had been crossed, and within-the-system politics was no longer enough, the best efforts of the Republicans in the 1990s notwithstanding.

What might have been, if Wilson had won in the June ’78 primary, and gone on to manage a general election win in November ’78?

– Jerry Brown stayed on through Jan. 1983, and the march towards ‘Brazil’ continued. Jan. 1983 to Jan. 1991 was the governorship of Republican George Deukmejian (1928-2018), who was of Armenian heritage but for practical purposes was a conservative WASP (he was a lifelong Episcopalian).

An obituary in the Sacramento Bee called Deukmejian

an alarmist protector of the status quo in a state that was scared in the 1970s and ’80s as its population grew more diverse…That fervor would return in 1994, when Deukmejian’s successor – Pete Wilson – rode the anti-immigrant tidal wave to re-election.

george deukmejian-1-articleLarge-v3

George Deukmejian, California Governor 1983-1989

California was really pressed for time by the time Deukmejian got into office, and though it could have been done, it would have required a strong and absolutely committed populist-nationalist.

Governor Deukmejian does appear to have had a populist-conservative streak, as shown by his toughness on crime and willingness to vastly increase the prison population. On immigration, though, regardless of what he might have personally preferred he could not overcome the weight of the system: Third World immigration already had its own momentum in California by the 1980s, and it had a class of powerful, wealthy people — California’s most privileged — who had a strong commitment to “virtue signalling” support for open immigration and providing free services to migrants by the million.

On Deukmejian’s ability to maneuver on immigration, there is also this tidbit (from The Elusive Eden: A New History of California):

Gov. George Deukmejian…received large campaign contributions from corporate agricultural interests [and] sharply cut the budget of the Agricultural Labor Relations Board.

“Corporate agricultural interests” — that sounds like there was a strong force pulling the Deukmejian administration towards looking the other way on illegal migrant labor, which is to say cheap labor. Cheap Labor lobbying is, alas, a familiar Republican problem.

Jan. 1991 to Jan. 1999 was the governorship of Pete Wilson (R), the immigration-restrictionist that California needed twenty years earlier. The last “classic-America” Republican governor of California.

Wilson was a sensible, popular immigration restrictionist who was reelected campaigning for a major immigration-restrictionist law Proposition 187, which easily passed by popular vote in 1994. It was designed to induce illegals to return to their countries of origin. It was appropriately named the “Save Our State (SOS)” proposition. Other populist-nationalist-oriented propositions that passed in this era were 209 (against anti-white racial preferences in schools and hiring, known as “affirmative action”) and 227 (ending bilingual education).

pete wilson - california

Here are two 1994 campaign commercials from the Pete Wilson campaign that look like something that a more polite version of Trump would have said in 2016:

The ad opens: “They keep coming,” with footage of illegals running across the border, and says that Pete Wilson will stop illegal immigration, boasting that he had sent the National Guard to the border.

Pete Wilson reelection ad.png

From Gov. Pete Wilson’s immigration-restrictionist 1994 reelection campaign commercial

The landmark immigration-restrictionist Proposition 187 law (1994), which passed so comfortably at the ballot box, was unilaterally overturned by a single, sneeringly hostile federal judge named Pfaelzer a few years later. In any case, California was almost certainly past the point of no return by the mid 1990s. Had the same populist-nationalist drive occurred twenty years earlier, things could have been different. Again pointing back to Pete Wilson ’78 and “what could have been”?

The combined four terms (16 years) of Gov. Deukmejian and Gov. Wilson were not enough, as another look at what was going on in California under their tenures, the mid 1980s to circa 2000, shows:

California Population by Race - 1940 to 2020

There is a lesson from the conservative governorships of Reagan and Deukmejian that bears highlighting again. These were both elected Republicans, well positioned to “save their state” in an era when strong action might just have done so, a “full-court press,” so to speak. They wavered, and passed the buck (and accepted campaign contributions from Big Agriculture, who had a vested interest in cheap migrant labor).

The lesson of Reagan and Deukmejian:

It’s possible that conservatives might not be the best at conserving.

— — —

Who could have saved California? — Best Bets

The section above suggests that if an inside-the-system savior of classic-America California was possible, it would have involved either an Ed Reinecke win in 1974 (and re-election in 1978; thus replacing the two Jerry Brown terms), or, alternatively, a Pete Wilson win in 1978. Both of these are plausible and could well have happened. They are, anyway, the “best bets,” given that Reagan failed to get anything done and did not really seem to appreciate the problem that was approaching.

ed reinekce 1969 hearing

Ed Reinecke. Could this man have saved California? Or at least significantly delayed the day of reckoning?

Both Reinecke and Wilson lost their 1970s primaries to more moderate Republicans, both of whom lost to left-winger Jerry Brown in November. The election of Jerry Brown in 1974, and re-election under the power of incumbency in 1978, may have ensured the loss of California, which again points towards 1974 as the most single critical governor’s election.

Stepping back from this fairly in-depth political analysis, it is true that cultural momentum was against classic-America California by the 1970s — slowly at first — not alarmingly at first — and it is also true that governors are, needless to say, not dictators. So some would question whether anyone at all could have saved California.

Being that governors do not wield dictatorial power, the analysis at this point needs something else: Why was leftist Jerry Brown elected by a still-conservative, White California in Nov. 1974? It helps that Jerry Brown’s dad had been governor in the 1950s, giving him a natural political base. What I have read on the matter suggests that the Watergate-era Deep State takedown of President Nixon between 1972 and 1974 (resignation, Aug. 1974) gave a lot of elections that year (1974) to the Democrats, of which Brown was one beneficiary. (In our era, we saw something broadly comparable with the surge in midterm turnout in Nov. 2018 under President Trump and the Democrats taking a majority in the House.)

Therefore the 1974 loss that brought in left-wing, pro-immigration Jerry Brown itself was tied in with the national-level, Deep State takedown of the Nixon people. Absent Watergate, an Ed Reinecke primary win and then a Reinecke general election win, look plausible, even likely.

It’s interesting that when pulling on the California internal-politics string, looking entirely for ‘domestic’ factors, we find the national-level Deep State on the hook, with its twin takedowns of Reinecke close to home and their smear campaign against Nixon and their takedown of Nixon in Washington.

Thus do we arrive back at the conclusion that this story is tied in with general US decline, a decline of a kind we are now more familiar with. It happened in California earlier, and because we have failed to heed the lessons, the rest of us are next. California’s 1990s tipping point will be the entire country’s 2030s tipping point. After that comes some form of dissolution of the United States — likely in Q2 or Q3 of this century.

— — —

What next for California?

I predict that the California Question will be an increasing part of our political discourse in the 2020s.

No political entity which has undergone such as enormous and consequential a shift, as the one ongoing in California since about the third quarter of the 20th century, long stays united within the political confines it inherited from an older era.

The separation of California would seem a mutually beneficial arrangement if we get favorable terms. One such condition would be the continued use of the San Diego naval base and land access to San Diego (requiring a neutral zone along the US-Mexico-California border), the kinds of details that should be planned for now so that we are ready.

Some form of separation (e.g., CalExit) seems likely, with the relevant questions ‘when’ and ‘how,’ not ‘if.’

calexit cartoon.png

Apparently the CalExit people are putting an independence referendum on the ballot in Nov. 2020. They probably won’t succeed so soon, but the pressure is on.

As for the rest of us, the lesson of California is ignored at our own peril.

The lesson of California, I have long noticed, is repeatedly mangled in the retelling.

A typical retelling is the one by immigrant-origin Alex Nowrasteh of the CATO institute think tank in “Proposition 187 Turned California Blue,” written in June 2016, the height of the Trump campaign. It touches on the same themes as this essay

Alex Nowrasteh, an Open Borders Libertarian who describes himself as CATO’s “Director of Immigration Studies” (Twitter bio as of this writing: “Globalist. Elitist. Cosmopolitan”), is of Iranian-Jewish ancestry, born circa 1984 in Southern California, thus growing up in a California that was on the cusp of defacto loss to America.

alex nowrasteh - cato immigration expert.jpg

Nowrasteh in his 2016 CATO article on how California was forever lost to the Republican Party:

The California Republican Party’s decision to represent the anti-immigration wing of the American electorate in the early 1990s destroyed that state’s GOP for at least a generation in exchange for winning one election in 1994 and a symbolic victory on Proposition 187 that didn’t actually change policy. That’s a bad deal that the Republican Party should avoid making again.

Nowrasteh’s commentary is consistently triumphalist in tone, to be expected from a member of a self-conscioulsy, and self-characterized, foreign elitist who deigns to lecture Middle-America White-Christians on how stupid they are for wanting to preserve a White-Christian society. Nowrasteh cynically recommends that Republicans “should support expanding legal immigration.”

Basing our immigration policy on American traditions, free markets, and the rule of law will help guarantee Republicans victory and grant our nation prosperity. Like most policies that are good for America, increasing legal immigration is the conservative thing to do.

Elsewhere, Nowrasteh has been a popularizer of the idea that immigrants commit significantly less crime than natives, an idea also explored by Ron Unz in the early 2010s, who concluded the same, though not without controversy. Here, incidentally, is Ron Unz on the Pete Wilson campaign (“How the Republicans Lost California,” Wall Street Journal, Aug. 2000), a 1300-word essay on the same topic as this post, written nineteen years earlier. It, too joins the majority conventional opinion and blames Gov. Wilson:

Yet if California has risen, the fortunes of its Republican Party have fallen to the point of near collapse. The Democrats hold both U.S. Senate seats, seven of eight statewide offices and huge majorities in each house of the state Legislature. In the 1998 governor’s race, Democrat Gray Davis, a dull and rather uninspiring campaigner, crushed his well-funded Republican opponent in the greatest California political landslide in 40 years.

What happened to the Republicans? […] Immigration and anti-immigrant Republican politics were the colliding forces that forever swept away this old world of California politics.

By the end of the 1980s, vast waves of foreign immigration, mostly from Asia and Latin America, had changed California into a state that was nearly half nonwhite and nearly half immigrant. But since few members of these new immigrant families were registered voters and many were not even citizens, they had minimal electoral impact, and political leaders largely ignored California’s ethnic transformation. […]

[…] with California’s deep recession of the early 1990s, as high unemployment and economic misery provoked an anti-immigrant backlash among California’s white political majority. Immigrants were blamed for stealing jobs and lowering wages; their children were seen as a huge burden to the expensive and overcrowded public-school system. Anger at immigrants focused on those without documentation, and surveys revealed that white Californians mistakenly lumped most immigrants into the illegal category.

Enraged grassroots activists of all parties mobilized against illegal immigration, a populist and somewhat xenophobic crusade that eventually gave rise to Proposition 187, a 1994 ballot initiative. […]

Gov. Wilson, …observing its enormous popularity, ultimately chose to use [Proposition 187] as the centerpiece of his gubernatorial campaign. Mr. Wilson spent millions on television spots showing gritty images of Mexicans dashing across the border, provoking the crudest stereotypes of dark-skinned hordes swarming into California for welfare and crime.

[…] Most of these new [Nonwhite] voters regarded both Mr. Wilson and his Republican Party as their mortal foes. Demographic trends indicate that California’s Latino vote will continue to rise about one percentage point each year for the next 30 years.

The problem with this Aug. 2000 analysis is that it is far too limited in scope, seemingly starting no earlier than 1990. There is little discussion of the Reagan governorship, the 1960s, 1970s, or 1980s, except to say that “vast waves of foreign immigration, mostly from Asia and Latin America, had changed California.” The terminology chosen by Unz there, “vast waves,” is reminiscent of some kind of natural phenomenon.

With the perspective of twenty more years, and good data, it appears the loss of California was assured by or before 1990, predating any decisions made by Wilson and/or California Republican strategists in the 1990s, predating the 1990s-era populist attempt at inside-the-system recovery.

Steve Sailer had written in 2002:

Wilson might be the most demonized man in recent Republican history

Steve Sailer, often called America’s Best Journalist, is fond of joking that things happen in California x number of years/decades before they happen elsewhere, and it appears this applies to the Wilson phenomenon. Polite opinion was entirely against Pete Wilson from the 1990s to present (to the extent he is still remembered), just as it is against Trump in the 2010s and into the 2020s. It is as if the one were a rehearsal for the other. (It is also unfortunate that Trump is such a highly imperfect figure to make an earnest, inside-the-system attempt at a political salvation.)

Another typical account, this one in an ostensibly straight-history book,  The Elusive Eden: A New History of California (2019):

As the ’90s progressed, it became clear that Republicans would pay dearly for immigrant bashing [p.480].

No.

The Republicans “would pay dearly” for failing to restrict Third World immigration. That is the Lesson of California. That is why California was lost and why it has become “America’s first Third-World state,” in Victor Davis Hanson’s phrasing.

That is why much of California is, defacto, no longer a part of the United States in many meaningful ways, though it does have a legacy American layer that may persist for some time.

Post-America California was born because of policy failure.

The Elusive Eden history book, published in 2019, shows the persistent myth that of Prop. 187 destroyed the California GOP remains strong, even twenty-five years later, which amounts to a form of slight misdirection and victim blaming.

In researching this essay, I was able to find some clues on who ‘lost’ California (that is, under whose watch; critical junctures; leadership failures to vigorously contain or reverse the problem) and when. There is, though, simply no mistaking the how: California was lost because they failed to restrict non-Western immigration.

[End]

— — —

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6 Responses to “Who Lost California?” The ‘When,’ the ‘Who,’ and the ‘Why’ of California’s Decline from Midwest-on-the-Pacific to Brazil-on-the-Pacific

  1. wilbur says:

    If any question why we died,
    Tell them, because our fathers lied

    (From the old poem. Fitting for CA)

  2. Hail says:

    A Twitter user says, of “Who Lost California”:

    Boomers!

    To which I reply,

    Governors Reagan (b.1911) and Brown (b.1938) were both pre-Boomers.

    Another pre-Boomer: Gov. Pete Wilson (b.1933), who tried to save classic-America California, if too late (1990s).

    When California was being lost, the Boomers were still too young to influence things.

  3. Hail says:

    A commenter named Mr. McKenna writes:

    _________________

    How California Became America’s Housing Market Nightmare

    Text string: “immi” Results: 0
    ________________

  4. Pingback: Heidi Beirich (SPLC)’s origin story: Family, early life, clues to political origins | Hail To You

  5. Pingback: Reflections on the 2010s: Political | Hail To You

  6. Pingback: Who Radicalized Robin DiAngelo? A biographical investigation into the coiner and promoter of White Fragility theory | Hail to You

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