The level of political debate in California has gotten so low that it is not “politically correct” to discuss real solutions to California’s most pressing public policy problems.
In short, special interests and the Democrat-run political establishment have such a strong hold on California politics that one is often chastised and berated for even suggesting that the state’s elected officials should choose to represent the public interest over the private interests that control Sacramento government.
Some national politicians have recently found success by striking a cord in the electorate for popular common sense policies, that have significant political opposition. The reality is that in the current system, heavy political opposition creates a huge vacuum for the ability to debate and discuss responsible public policies, let alone even propose or enact these through the political process.
If you look closely, you see this on every major issue in California—housing, spending reform, infrastructure, tax reform, pensions, and transportation to name a few.
The sad truth is that as a democratically elected official in California, the political establishment only allows you to complain about the problem, but not too much, and you certainly cannot take any action. This leads to a situation where people see politicians as "all talk and no action."
The best and most dramatic example is the state’s pension problem which is sucking up all of the state’s resources to pay for everything from K-12 education to roads and other infrastructure.
This is the most serious problem in the entire state with ramifications for the entire well being of California and its economy yet there are less than a handful of politicians in Sacramento that will even discuss the problem in a substantive way. The reason—the state’s public employee unions control California government and any detractors will be severely punished if the unions have any leverage over them.
Another prime example is the state’s housing crisis which is becoming as well documented as the pension crisis in both its scope and severity. Most Sacramento politicians talk about it but then propose small, insignificant proposals that may look good on a campaign mailer but will do effectively nothing to solve the crisis.
The reality is that California needs 100,000 in additional housing units built per year, which would create a boon for the economy and job creation. Yet the only way we can get there is if we roll back major barriers in the state’s environmental laws that allow environmental extremists and labor unions to block common sense, responsible developments. The result is that it takes more than five years to build units of housing in California compared to less than six months in state’s like Nevada.
Again, on the housing issue there are many other solutions here, big solutions, that will work, but these challenge some of the most powerful and entrenched special interests in the state and are therefore not even allowed to be proposed and discussed in California politics from a policy making standpoint—off limits from serious discussion.
One last thing that is “off limits” for discussion in California politics is the true political causes of why the state cannot solve its major public policy problems. Again, this comes back to the special interests and their ability to completely dictate the policy debate and forbid any discussion, through fear of retaliation and punishment, to those who try to highlight these deficiencies.
Examples of these types of topics are money in politics, conflicts of interest, and the political causes of the failed system of governance we have. Most of these issues require more discussion but the best example of this is that California is essentially government by labor union bosses, as opposed to what is responsible or thoughtful public policy, and what actually makes sense in economic and policy terms.
The California Democrat Party and the labor-backed political establishment is akin to the Mafioso boss that sanctions your candidacy in exchange for money for “protection” to operate in California politics. These fees for "protection" (i.e. pensions, benefits, compensation) have gotten so high that they are essentially bankrupting the state. Go against them at your own peril.
The California Democratic Party is essentially corrupt and subservient to the state’s labor unions, environmental extremists, and other liberal elites who share these views. These special interests dictate the agenda in Sacramento and create the "policy vacuums" referenced above.
The California Republican Party and its candidates, on the other hand, are largely controlled by many of the same business interests, but the GOP is not nearly as influential in the state Legislature due to dwindling numbers and the focus of the business establishment on “moderate” Democrats. Labor interests have significant sway over GOP members, albeit their influence has declined in recent years.
So next time you wonder why it is that Sacramento does not get anything done to solve our real problems--know that it's not for lack of solutions, but for lack of political will and courage by our elected representatives to stand up to the special interests and political establishment.
Should we just blame the system, or should we also hold our publicly elected officials accountable as well?