Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
Walters: Is California a Shining Example or Third-World State?
dan_walters
By Dan Walters, CalMatters Commentary
Published 5 years ago on
July 7, 2019

Share

Recent weeks have seen a debate of sorts about the image and reality of contemporary California.
Is it, as Gov. Gavin Newsom contends, a nation-state proving that economic prosperity, multiculturism, and social progress can advance together?


Dan Walters
CALmatters

“California is what America is going to look like,” he told a television interviewer. “California is America’s coming attraction.”
Or is it, as Hoover Institute historian Victor Davis Hanson indirectly responded in a Fox News interview, “America’s first third-world state” with widening income and wealth disparities, rampant homelessness, poor schools, and rising disease levels despite high taxes?
“We have a medieval society,” Hanson asserted, with a wealthy “royal elite,” including Newsom, that prospers while ordinary Californians “are treated like peasants.”

Newsom Admits There’s a Big Economic Divide

Even as he boasts about his first state budget, which he calls an “affordability budget,” Newsom acknowledges the state’s socioeconomic divide.
“You can’t live in the richest and the poorest state and have a just society,” he said while touting appropriations to help the 40 percent of Californians rated as poor or “near-poor” by the Census Bureau and the Public Policy Institute of California.
Not surprisingly, President Donald Trump is an eager participant in the debate over California’s image and substance.
After Newsom boasted about the budget’s extension of health insurance benefits to some undocumented immigrant adults, Trump — certainly not for the first time — sneered at the state.
“You look at what they’re doing in California, how they’re treating people. They don’t treat their people as well as they treat illegal immigrants,” the Republican president told White House reporters last week. “It’s very unfair to our citizens and we’re going to stop it, but we may need an election to stop it.”

Governor Accepts the Fox News Challenge

Newsom seems to take the criticism from Trump and others on the political right as a source of amusement.
“To my friends at Fox News, I know we’re keeping you in business,” he said, adding, “Universal health care is a right regardless of immigration status. I’m going to get the rest of that done, mark my words, and make progress next year and the year after that.”
These cross-country, multi-media exchanges are warm-ups for what could be a significant aspect of next year’s presidential election.

The California Values Debate

Inferentially, most of the Democratic White House hopefuls — including California Sen. Kamala Harris — are pointing to Newsom’s expanding array of social and economic benefits, such as health insurance and early childhood education, and promising to emulate them nationally if elected.

“California is what America is going to look like. California is America’s coming attraction.” — Gov. Gavin Newsom
Conversely, Trump and other Republicans will point to California as an example of liberalism gone wild and warn that if Democrats take over in Washington, they will impose California values on the rest of the nation.
An example to emulate or one to avoid?
Photo illustration of California and Texas scenes
California vs. Texas (GV Wire/Alexis DeSha)

Texas vs. California

The Economist, a journal of deep political thinking, took a crack at California’s reality in a recent article comparing the state to its arch economic and political rival, Texas.
Overall the British magazine seemed to give Texas the better of it, citing the out-migration of Californians to Texas, California’s housing shortage and high costs, its highest-in-the-nation poverty, and its shortcomings in education.
The Economist quotes a leading in-state critic, Chapman University’s Joel Kotkin with this appraisal: “The Golden State used to be a rising tide lifting all sorts of boats. Now it’s a rising tide lifting a few yachts.”
Kotkin is basically saying what Newsom is saying. California has many attributes, but unless it can somehow close its yawning socioeconomic gaps, it will, indeed, continue its evolution into a two-tiered society — of the sort often found in the third world — that would be unworthy of emulation.
CALmatters is a public interest journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s state Capitol works and why it matters. For more stories by Dan Walters, go to calmatters.org/commentary

DON'T MISS

Will There Be a Third Measure E? What Richard Spencer Says.

DON'T MISS

Melvin and Matzah: Giants Manager Recalls Childhood Passover

DON'T MISS

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass Safe After Suspect Breaks Into Official Residence, Police Say

DON'T MISS

Newsom Wants to Make It Easier for Arizona Women to Get a California Abortion

DON'T MISS

By Remembering the Genocide, We Can Help Rebuild Armenia

DON'T MISS

Suspect in Killing of Idaho Sheriff’s Deputy Fatally Shot by Police, Authorities Say

DON'T MISS

15 People Injured When Tram Collides With Guardrail at Universal Studios Theme Park

DON'T MISS

Israel’s Military Intelligence Chief Resigns Over Failure to Prevent Hamas Attack on Oct. 7

DON'T MISS

RIP, Roman Gabriel, 83: First Filipino-American QB in NFL Was 1969 MVP

DON'T MISS

Aid Approval Brings Ukraine Closer to Replenishing Troops Struggling to Hold Front Lines

UP NEXT

Californians Worry About Crime, Setting up a Ballot Measure Showdown

UP NEXT

McDonald’s Ice Cream Machines Are So Unreliable They’re a Meme. They Might Also Be a Climate Solution.

UP NEXT

Will State AG Rob Bonta Jump Into 2026 Race for CA Governor?

UP NEXT

Local Leaders Must Put Their Shoulders Into Making Fresno ‘Education City USA’

UP NEXT

Carbon Capture Isn’t Nearly as ‘Green’ as Fossil Fuel Promoters Make It Sound

UP NEXT

CA’s High Construction Costs Limit Housing. A Supreme Court Decision Might Help

UP NEXT

A Fresno Edition of Monopoly? That’s Capitalism at Work, Baby!

UP NEXT

Biden’s Embrace of Trump’s Tariffs Could Spell Trouble for His Reelection: Fareed Zakaria

UP NEXT

‘Digital Democracy’ Project Penetrates California’s Opaque Political Processes

UP NEXT

While California Politicians Skirmish Over Housing, the Shortage Keeps Growing

Newsom Wants to Make It Easier for Arizona Women to Get a California Abortion

2 hours ago

By Remembering the Genocide, We Can Help Rebuild Armenia

2 hours ago

Suspect in Killing of Idaho Sheriff’s Deputy Fatally Shot by Police, Authorities Say

3 hours ago

15 People Injured When Tram Collides With Guardrail at Universal Studios Theme Park

3 hours ago

Israel’s Military Intelligence Chief Resigns Over Failure to Prevent Hamas Attack on Oct. 7

3 hours ago

RIP, Roman Gabriel, 83: First Filipino-American QB in NFL Was 1969 MVP

4 hours ago

Aid Approval Brings Ukraine Closer to Replenishing Troops Struggling to Hold Front Lines

4 hours ago

Columbia Cancels In-Person Classes as Demonstrations Sprout on US Campuses to Protest Israel War

4 hours ago

Giants Struggle Against Sub Starter, Fall to Diamondbacks

4 hours ago

Trump Tried to ‘Corrupt’ the 2016 Election, Prosecutor Alleges as Hush Money Trial Gets Underway

4 hours ago

Will There Be a Third Measure E? What Richard Spencer Says.

A local ballot measure that would increase Fresno County sales tax to benefit Fresno State could return for a third time. Richard F. Spencer...

22 mins ago

22 mins ago

Will There Be a Third Measure E? What Richard Spencer Says.

58 mins ago

Melvin and Matzah: Giants Manager Recalls Childhood Passover

2 hours ago

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass Safe After Suspect Breaks Into Official Residence, Police Say

2 hours ago

Newsom Wants to Make It Easier for Arizona Women to Get a California Abortion

2 hours ago

By Remembering the Genocide, We Can Help Rebuild Armenia

3 hours ago

Suspect in Killing of Idaho Sheriff’s Deputy Fatally Shot by Police, Authorities Say

3 hours ago

15 People Injured When Tram Collides With Guardrail at Universal Studios Theme Park

3 hours ago

Israel’s Military Intelligence Chief Resigns Over Failure to Prevent Hamas Attack on Oct. 7

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend