California's robust referendum system has placed an idea on the ballot that has banging around for some time. Cal-3, the measure that met the 600,000 vote threshold to make the November ballot, proposes dividing the state into three new states with roughly the same population, comparable median household income and sufficient industry within their borders.
The proponents of this move cite California's poor rankings on everything from education to quality of life to make the case for splitting the state. Perhaps the most ironic thing the group asserts is that better decision making and accountability improve when decisions are made closer to those affected by them. Yes, that is correct. An activist group in California is making making the case for a more limited role of central government.
Oddly, I came across this concept a few weeks ago. On a Ben Shapiro Sunday Special, Ben interviewed Dr. Drew Pinsky. It was a bit surreal since the last time I had seen the two in the same frame, Shapiro was assaulted by Zoey Tur, but I decided to watch. I'll admit Dr. Drew was far more interesting than I would have guessed, as well as far closer to the center politically than I assumed.
At about 57:50 in the video, Dr. Drew is talking about his admiration of the Founding Father's and their creation of a system based on ideas. After encouraging listeners to learn more about our nation and our history, he says:
As another sidebar, I am gravely concerned about California. I am gravely concerned about it. Here's why, there's a million reasons to be concerned and we have already gone over some of them. Direct democracies never survive, throughout human history.
Dr. Drew then goes on to explain the state's referendum system, which he classifies as a form of direct democracy that much of the rest of the country doesn't understand. It was established in 1911 and essentially gave the voters of California the same power as the legislature. The citizens can actually pass laws. There were 17 statewide initiatives on the ballot along with a host of county and local initiative in 2016. Every level of government in the state operates under the same model.
He closes by asserting that he believes the history books will trace the implosion of California to this model and the state will ultimately become three different states. It's arguable that Dr. Drew was aware of this ballot initiative, but he still makes a compelling point. California has been under a form of rule designed to create the tyranny of the majority for quite some time.
The primary process in the state also does not help. Rather than party primaries, California voters approved a "Top-Two" primary in Proposition 14 during the 2010 election. All candidates, regardless of political affiliation compete in the same primary and the top two proceed to the general election.
What this has generally produced in statewide races is one Democrat and one looney far Left Progressive in the general election. Not that there's a whole lot of daylight between those spots on the political spectrum anymore. Elections have become a contest of the degree to which you lean Left, rather than about truly competing ideas and differing solutions to the problems the state faces.
Add to this the horror story from a friend in L.A. County who tells me their polling place segregates you by party in the primary process. If you are going to vote for Republican candidates you go in one line, Democrats another. It is subtle, yet effective, even though most of the people I know who live out there say the vast majority of the people they know are frustrated by the direction of the state. To get in the GOP line you are basically outing your self as a racist, homophobic bigot to everyone if you believe the folks in La-La Land.
The frustration with the system and many of California's failures on measures of resident success and satisfaction is apparent in polling, outmigration and outright defiance of state law. The so-called "Sanctuary State Law" is a very divisive issue among residents, with polling split pretty much down the middle across multiple surveys. This is further demonstrated by over a dozen cities and counties voting to join the DOJ lawsuit to fight the law.
Stories about the homelessness crisis in L.A. County, addicts shooting up in the BART stations in the Bay Area and human excrement in the streets following a back down on enforcement for petty crimes in San Francisco hit the news weekly. Dr. Drew said earlier in the show that due to the failures of basic sanitation in some areas of California, he is anticipating a disease outbreak at epidemic levels within the state in the next several months.
Given all of this is is no small wonder the outmigration from California for citizens has increased substantially. A U-Haul to leave the Bay Area for Las Vegas costs upwards of $2,000. The reverse trip costs $100. A February survey by Edelman showed that 49% of residents are looking for a way to relocate due to the high cost of living. This type of seismic migration will cause some serious brain drain and loss of taxable income. Tech company leadership is also not shy about continuing to move operations out of the state. Tim Cook has already said the new Apple campus will be located elsewhere.
I think Dr. Drew has a point. This experiment in direct democracy is going to continue to fail. California is already rated 50th among the states in quality of life. There are very few measures where the state breaks the mid to high 40's. Yet our Liberal Left Coast betters still have the insane idea that they should be able to impose their failed policy agenda on the entire country. That is some serious cognitive dissonance if you can't relate the state's policy agenda to your failure to exceed the quality of life in West Virginia or Mississippi.
Though polls indicate that the Cal-3 proposition is not likely to pass in 2018, it won't be the first time measures are resurrected in subsequent elections. The Top -Two Primary was voted on twice before passage. However, one has to wonder if the new states would opt to function any differently than the combined one does now. While the proponents of this initiative have certainly diagnosed the states shortcomings and fundamental problems, it is not at all apparent they are aware of the underlying cause.