Heading for the Hills in California

There’s only one advantage to being a libertarian in California: you’re never uncertain about election outcomes. It’s a guarantee that you are going to get the exact opposite of the kind of government you want, and the only mystery on Election Day is to what extent the state will resemble Belarus.

California defied all the electoral trends in 2010, and went further than any other state this year. Voters raised the top income tax rate to 13.3%, added another quarter-percent to the sales tax, again refused to rein in union political power, and appear to have elected a two-thirds majority of Democrats to both houses of the legislature. The Sacramento Bee noted:

Overnight, Brown, who had just succeeded in passing his ballot initiative to raise taxes, had somehow also become the most conservative force of any consequence at the Capitol, a difficult position for a Democratic governor.

Yep, our champion of fiscal conservatism is Jerry Brown. We yearn for the rock-ribbed Neil Abercrombie.

Just as Gray Davis learned to his chagrin, Gov. Brown will soon discover how little say he has over the public policy agenda. Joshua Pechthalt, president of the California Federation of Teachers, said passage of Brown’s tax measure was “only Step 1.”

Anyone who has lived here for a decent amount of time knows what Steps 2 through 1,002 are. As the Wall Street Journal put it, “So now Californians will experience the joys of one-party, union-run progressive governance.” There’s no use crying about it. That’s what the majority wants; it has been proven in election after election.

It isn’t too well-known outside of the state that California is deeply divided politically by rather stark geographic lines. Coastal California, containing the major population centers, is almost entirely blue, and Inland California is almost entirely red. Take a look at this map of the vote on the tax increase.

So there are a sizable number of Californians who think the state is off the rails (so to speak), but they are a permanent minority. They will hunker down in their mountain strongholds and wait for the ocean waves to subside.