Dear Big Daddy,
No governor’s office, no constitutional officers and no gains in the Legislature. Are Republicans in California going the way of the dodo?
— Inquisitive in Ione
No. Nope. Never. Nunca. Nein. Nyet.
And beg the Big Guy upstairs that it will never happen. Democrats NEED Republicans, just like Jack needed Jill (well, maybe not quite like that), hot dogs need a beer, Burns needed Allen, those islanders needed King Kong and smart phones need apps.
No sane Democrat, especially one known as “Big Daddy,” would ever want the Republicans to become as extinct as the dodo bird.
And why, pray tell, would I say that? Elementary, as Holmes often said to Watson.
Every savvy politician or political party needs a foil, something that’s so awful that it makes the stuff you want to do look really good. GOPers, as certain lazy headline writers used to call the Reeps, make first-rate foils. The Jefferson Airplane had it wrong: You don’t want somebody to love, you want somebody to hate. In politics, hate is much stronger than love.
Lemme give you an example: If Jerry Brown’s budget proposes to cut 20 percent of a home health care worker’s salary, it’s likely that the worker will support the cut because she thinks Jerry might reconsider – or maybe restore it next year. Why? Because he’s a Democrat.
But when Arnold the Terminator proposed to whack the home health care budget, the workers went bonkers. Why? Because they figured Arnold and his party didn’t give a tinker’s damn whether they ever restored the cuts.
Here’s another example of why we don’t want Republicans to go dodo.
Look at the big picture, circa 2011. The bald guy with the fuzzy eyebrows beats the frowsy blonde billionaire for governor. He dissects the state’s balance sheet and finds we’ve got a $25.4 billion budget deficit.
He decides to play Solomon. He tells us we can keep our California baby alive by administering some distasteful medicine – cut the budget by $12.5 billion while we raise a few pennies over $13 billion by voting to keep taxes at the same level they were already. Or we can nix the tax extensions, double the cuts and drop our California baby off the Golden Gate Bridge.
And what’s the first thing the Republicans do? They say there ain’t no way they’re gonna give Jerry the votes it will take to put the tax extensions on the ballot. That’s why we don’t want to see Republicans go the way of the dodo. We’re always gonna need someone to play either the role of the goofball or the guy with the pencil moustache who ties grandma to the railroad track. If we didn’t have Republicans, we’d have to invent ’em.
One of my favorite Republicans is Grover Norquist. Runs Americans for Tax Reform out of Washington, D.C. Studious-looking fellow. Serious. Hates government. Has a lot of clout with Republicans all over the country. Ol’ Grover once said, “My goal is to cut government in half in twenty-five years, to get it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”
He may yet achieve his goal, but if he’d said that about the California Republican Party he’d have been recognized as a political swami with an amazing gift for accurate predictions.
No, I don’t want California Republicans to go the way of the dodo. The bird I prefer to associate with the GOP is the Gooney Bird.
To take off, they run, they flap and they hop, which is what will have to happen if they help California lift out of its fiscal muck. Gooneys have to run into a head wind to make it into the air, and before they give Jerry any help they’ll run into plenty of head wind from Grover and his pals on the starboard side of the political spectrum.
To land, the Gooney just starts falling and usually crash lands on its nose. That’s why the California Republican Party should retain the moniker GOP – Gooney Old Party.