18 July 2005

California is a blue state? What a joke.

Based on my in-person observation of political trends at various sections of Southern and Northern California, I decided that the idea of California being a "blue state" is yet another media lie, perhaps designed to lull the liberals into complacency as the conservatives eat the state away.

Let's look at Southern California. The freeway and car culture of Southern California (including destroying mass transit, The Red Car, to build freeways) has more in common with such red areas as Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Atlanta than such blue areas as San Francisco, Seattle, and New York. Moreover, looking at the geographical layout, the entire southern third of state, outside Los Angeles County, is solidly red, especially Orange County and the Inland Empire (San Bernardino and Riverside) which the Republicans count on as a solid base for their votes and money. Even Los Angeles County has wide swaths of red areas, ranging from Antelope Valley to the north to the Diamond Bar area to the east to La Mirada to the south. If Los Angeles County is "blue," it's barely there - as evidenced by its voting record in key California issues, where the recall of Governor Gray Davis pretty much deadlocked, and the anti-gay Proposition 22 passed by a significant margin.

Historically, Southern California has been a solid Republican area, being home to the likes of Richard Nixon and that conservative hero, Ronald Reagan, as well as today's Arnold Schwarzenegger. It "turned Democratic" in the 1990s because of Governor Pete Wilson's racial politics which enraged Latino voters. But now, thanks to brilliant Republican tactics which took advantage of the Latino anti-choice and anti-gay sentiment, the Latinos are defecting to the Republican camp. I saw plenty of "VIVA BUSH" bumper stickers last fall - and still see them now. I never saw a single "Unidos Con KERRY-EDWARDS" one.

Southern California, though home to a huge, socially conservative Latino population, does not have significant numbers of the worst scums in American politics, the Cubans. But the also-huge Asian community has huge numbers of the two runner-ups: the Koreans and the Vietnamese. This does not help things at all for the Democratic camp. Los Angeles's Koreatown is the largest of its kind in the Western world, and it is controlled by fundamentalist mega-churches which act from chambers of commerce to dating services to just about anything else a community center may do. Koreans also dominate the aforementioned Republican hotspots in Los Angeles County, such as Diamond Bar and La Mirada. In fact, Diamond Bar was home to the only Korean in history to become a U.S. Congressman - Jay C. Kim, a Republican. The Vietnamese have a strong presence in Orange County, and have several state-level lawmakers, all Republicans. Though religiously split between the Catholics and the Buddhists, and therefore less religion-driven than the Koreans, they are driven by the bitterness over the communist reunification of their country. Never mind it was a Democrat, LBJ, who sent Americans to protect South Vietnam in the first place. (The same holds for the Korean community, forgetting that a Democrat, Harry S Truman, sent Americans to protect South Korea.) It's a shame that these two communities are stuck in an old Cold War mentality keeping them pawns of the right wing extremists, when other similarily situated communities - the Taiwanese and the Iranians - have moved on and become more independent thinkers.

Northern California, now, is of course considered a liberal hotbed, and a solidly blue area. Except that its population is not enough to counter the huge red wave of the south. (Remember that 2/3 of the state population lives in the southern 1/3 of the state.) Even within the Bay Area, portions of Alameda, Contra Costa, and San Mateo counties have enough Republicans to put their areas "in play." And even in the most liberal bastion of all - San Francisco - there are plenty of Republicans in the Financial District. I know them well, having worked there for a while as their administrative assistant. (I then decided that the media companies of Hollywood were better - only to find that they are Republicans too.)

And don't even tell me about the inland and rural areas of California, which are solidly in the red camp, and yield some population strength in case of Bakersfield and Fresno. These inland cities have heavy Latino populations as well, and their anti-abortion and anti-gay positions are exploited to the fullest.

I sincerely hope that the state Democrats are listening. If they don't listen soon, their "advantage" in state politics will evaporate. And once California turns Republican, the Democratic Party nationwide will be history, and someone like me will have a hell of a nightmare ahead. Instead of joking about a move to Canada, I will seriously have to make the move if I want to live in dignity - or live at all. The goal of my Los Angeles based cell in the Democracy Cell Project will be to deal with these issues and block further Republican creep into state politics.