California Rebs

(California was a magic spot when I lived there a spell in the early 1960s. But no more. Today’s post is written by Victor Davis Hanson, a historian with the Hoover Institution.)

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9942878-confederate-flag-rendered-with-fabric-texture1MORE THAN 60 percent of California voters went for Hillary Clinton — a margin of more than 4 million votes over Donald Trump.

Since Mrs. Clinton’s defeat, the state seems to have become unhinged over President Trump’s unexpected election.

“Calexit” supporters brag that they will have enough signatures to qualify for a ballot measure calling for California’s secession from the United States.

Some California officials have talked of the state not remitting its legally obligated tax dollars to the federal government. They talk of expanding its sanctuary cities into an entire sanctuary state that would nullify federal immigration law.

Californians also now talk about the value of the old Confederate idea of “states’ rights.”

They whine that their state gives far too much revenue to Washington and gets too little back.

Residents boast about how their cool culture has little in common with the rest of the U.S. Some Californians claim the state could easily go it alone, divorced from the United States.

Sound a bit familiar?

Today’s leftist

In December 1860, South Carolina seceded from the Union in furor over the election of Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln did not receive 50 percent of the popular vote. He espoused values the state insisted did not reflect its own.

In eerie irony, liberal California is now mirror-imaging the arguments of reactionary South Carolina and other Southern states that vowed to go it alone in 1860 and 1861.

Like California, South Carolina insisted it could nullify federal laws within its state borders.

Like California, South Carolina promised to withhold federal revenues.

Like California, South Carolina and other Confederate states bragged that their unique economies did not need the Union.

They boasted that “King Cotton” had created the wealthiest class in the United States. Silicon Valley now often assumes that Google, Facebook, Apple and others are near-trillion-dollar companies that are a world unto their own.

Slavery and the extravagant income from cotton warped the Southern economy and culture. A wealthy plantation elite, with its millions of exploited slaves, ensured that there would be virtually no middle-, working- or small-business class.

Huge estates were surrounded by the impoverished shacks of servants. Hardscrabble farmers or small businessmen often fled westward to escape the shackles of wealth disparity.

The export-dependent Southern elite demanded unfettered free trade. It offered bitter resistance to Northern protectionism.

South Carolina elites were opposed to federal infrastructure projects such as the building of roads, canals, bridges and reservoirs, and other such unwelcome “progress.”

Confederates boasted that their antebellum culture was more romantic, natural, pristine, healthy and moral than was the bustle, grime and hyper-capitalism of Northern industrialism.

Southern aristocrats believed that they were culturally superior — in terms of music, art and literature — to other Americans.

Of course, this is 2017, not 1860, and California is superliberal, not an antebellum slave-owning society.

Nonetheless, what is driving California’s current efforts to nullify federal law and the state’s vows to secede from the United States are some deeper — and creepy — similarities to the arrogant and blinkered Old South.

California is likewise becoming a winner-take-all society. It hosts the largest numbers of impoverished and the greatest number of rich people of any state in the country.

Eager for cheap service labor, California has welcomed in nearly a quarter of the nation’s undocumented immigrants.*

California has more residents living in poverty than any other state. It is home to one-third of all the nation’s welfare recipients.

The income of California’s wealthy seems to make them immune from the effects of the highest basket of sales, income and gas taxes in the nation. The poor look to subsidies and social services to get by. Over the last 30 years, California’s middle classes have increasingly fled the state.

“Gone With the Wind”-like wealth disparity in California is shocking to the naked eye.

Mostly poor Redwood City looks like it’s on a different planet from tony nearby Atherton or Woodside.

The California elite, wishing to keep the natural environment unchanged, opposes internal improvements and sues to stop pipelines, aqueducts, reservoirs, freeways and affordable housing for the coastal poor.

California’s crumbling roads and bridges sometimes resemble those of the old rural South. The state’s public schools remain among the nation’s poorest. Private academies are booming for the offspring of the coastal privileged, just as they did among the plantation class of the South.

California, for all its braggadocio, cannot leave the U.S. or continue its states’-rights violations of federal law. It will eventually see that the new president is not its sickness, nor are secession and nullification its cures.

Instead, California is becoming a reactionary two-tier state of masters and serfs whose culture is as peculiar and out of step with the rest of the country as was the antebellum South’s.

No wonder the state lashes out at the rest of the nation with threatened updated versions of the Old Confederacy’s secession and nullification.

But such reactionary Confederate obstructionism is still quite an irony given California’s self-righteous liberal preening.

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* Old Felipe prefers “illegal aliens.” He also continues what appears to be a one-man war against the use of “liberal” and “progressive” when referring to leftists.

18 thoughts on “California Rebs

  1. More than ever we are glad we left California. Despite the constantly increasing taxes the infrastructure is falling apart and the retirement funds are way under funded. A financial earthquake is coming to California.


    1. Patzman: California has become a laughingstock to sensible people. It’s a poster child of what’s possible with the collectivist mindset.

      Hats off to you for departing.

      When I lived there half a century ago, it was astoundingly wonderful. But now? As Trump would say: So sad.


  2. The civil war was fought over the issue of secession or “south exit”, not slavery. The issue of slavery was pretty much settled with the Missouri Compromise. The result of the Civil War was that secession was illegal. However my first impression would be to let California go. But the economy is so intertwined it would be virtually impossible to pull off. And the flood of illegal immigrants to the rest of the USA would be disasterous. Give Trump a chance to fix it.


  3. No whine before its time.
    California whine has turned to vinegar.
    Nothing exceeds like excess.
    Put the cork back into the bottle.
    Don’t californicate the rest of the world.
    California dreamin’ has turned into a nightmare.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I had a girlfriend in college who was attractive and very intelligent. After we broke up, I went Right and she went Left. I went into the Navy and she went into the Students For a Democratic Society, better known as the SDS. Now she lives in Arcata, CA, the most liberal/progressive town in the USA. But there’s trouble in hippie paradise. Homelessness and crime. I think the whole Calexit thing will fall apart when Californians realize that they’ll have to get visas to visit the United States.


    1. Señor Bowman: Get visas to visit the United States. That’s a good one. But since they don’t believe in borders, they’ll climb over the fence or tunnel under it.

      Now what’s this with referring to leftists as progressive and liberal?! Shame, shame, shame! They are not, and why can’t I get intelligent people to quit using those adjectives to describe leftists? I try so hard, and nobody pays me a lick of attention.

      I weep.


      1. I like the term “regressive left,” which allows that there are sensible people on the left. But a lot of them, particularly the more strident, seem to have lost their minds.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Kim: Lost their minds indeed. But I like your take that there are sensible people on the left. Well, reasonably so. I’m convinced that a sizable percentage of people who still vote Democrat simply are not paying sufficient attention. They vote Democrat by long habit. Mostly, they are older people who have not noticed that it’s not the Democrat Party of FDR, Truman, etc. It’s morphed into a whole, new ball of nasty, repressive wax. That’s one segment of the older people who still vote Democrat. The other segment is aging hippies.

          This current progressive label, I imagine, was copied from the Progressive Era and its movement of over a century ago, which actually was progressive when some progress was direly needed.

          It’s a fine adjective. Who does not want to be progressive? It sounds good. The same goes for liberal. Classical liberalism favors free markets, free speech, all that good stuff. I am a classical liberal. “Liberals” and “Progressives” today are the antithesis of those qualities. Yet the left has adopted those adjectives for themselves, made pretty cloth, and wrapped it around their shoulders so convincingly that everyone calls them progressive and liberal. Even their staunch enemies on the conservative right call them that, which is arrant nonsense. Absurd.

          I’ve been waging what appears to be a one-man war against the misuse of those adjectives, mostly online, for quite a spell now.

          And nobody pays me a lick of attention. They keep on doing it. Amazing.

          It’s putting lipstick on a pig’s snout.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Ok, Ok. Leftist. I stand corrected. In fact, Arcata is about as far left as you can go in the US. Any farther left and you are in the Pacific Ocean.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. There are a lot of misperceptions about California in that article, “crumbling infrastructure” being one of them. Though there certainly are things that need work here, whenever I come, it always amazes me how nice the roads are, especially compared to crumbling Massachusetts, which also has to deal with snow and ice. Having driven all over California, I’d say that its roads are much better than average, even if there are people out there who think they should be better.

    As for illegal aliens, you probably saw that In testimony provided before the California Senate’s Public Safety Committee, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles) decided to admit that “half of his family” is residing in the United States illegally and with the possession of falsified Social Security Cards and green cards. (

    While I have mixed feelings about mass deportations, there’s no doubt that there are illegal aliens voting and swaying our democracy in a direction that true citizens wouldn’t move.

    But I think many Californians are in denial about it, just like there are many Americans at large who are in denial about the evil side of Islam.

    These are big problems and demand big solutions. Secession isn’t one.


    Kim G
    Redding, CA
    Where the northern part of the state wants to be a separate state too.

    P.S. Oh, and while Redwood City may have a working-class area, the city is not poor by any stretch of the imagination.


    1. Kim: Saying California’s infrastructure is better than endlessly snow-damaged Massachusetts is not necessarily a ringing endorsement of California. No matter.

      The U.S. has allowed the illegal alien problem to grow to such astounding proportions that it’s gonna be a real bear to solve one way or the other.

      The good news is the Donald Trump sits in the Oval Office. I’m still smiling.


      1. Deportations seem to be heating up. And as the illegally present are noticing, there’s not much that can be done. I read this morning that there are still a lot of people stateside who have been processed and have active detention orders. But for some reason they remain. All you have to do is find them, and ship them to the other side. No more due process is due; it’s already been done.

        I’m very sorry for the families that are getting broken up over this. But I have one simple question: who in their right mind brings kids into such a legally risky situation? If you’re illegal, you’ve got to acknowledge that it’s probably not a long-term sustainable problem. But you have kids anyway? Seems like a bad decision. But the press never reports or comments on that particular angle. Nope. These people are all hapless victims.


        1. Kim: Who in their right mind indeed. Fact is that opportunities abound in Mexico. Newspapers are full of want ads, jobs that range from ditch diggers to high-tech positions and scads of stuff in between. Starting a small business is considerably less complicated and way cheaper than doing so in the United States. Scholarships are all over the place, waiting for takers. There are universities. There are tech schools of every stripe.

          Many Mexicans head over the border without visa simply because it’s what you do. “Everybody” does it. I am convinced that most of them don’t really give much thought to alternatives in Mexico, and there are plenty of alternatives. Our nephew who died last week was an illegal in Oregon for a couple of years. He wasn’t starving when he left here. He owned his own home. He was well-clothed, had his cell phone and motorbike. When he returned, everything flipped back to his life before, which is to say he actually gained nothing from the escapade. I am acquainted with quite a few people who’ve sneaked into the U.S. at one time or another. Not a one needed to do it.

          The U.S. government bears much of the blame for this decades-long situation, a situation that grew so bad that it delivered Donald Trump to the White House.

          Liked by 1 person

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