California — birthplace of the modern environmental movement; champion of tolerance, diversity and equality; home of the top public university system in the country — is despised by conservatives. The state has recently tightened gun regulations and improved access to abortion services. Undocumented immigrants can get driver’s licenses, carbon is regulated, and there’s a legal medical marijuana dispensary a few doors down from my Bay Area home. The state is home of two conservative boogeymen: Hollywood and San Francisco. So it’s not surprising that a PPP poll earlier this year found that just one in 10 conservatives views California favorably.
But most importantly, liberal, diverse, complicated California is showing America how to win in the 21st century. And that’s the scariest part for conservatives.
That’s not coincidental. California’s innovation economy requires a steady stream of highly educated workers, which requires an attractive cultural climate. It’s not just stunning natural beauty and outdoor activities that attract migrants — it’s the easy access to investment capital, the state’s tolerance for nonconforming lifestyles and its progressive, pragmatic approach toward balancing policy concerns.
Contrast California with Texas, where “pro-business” has meant a minimum-wage economy and a laissez-faire approach to regulations that’s fouled the water and air, and killed 400 Texans every year in the workplace for the past decade — the highest in the nation. Fires and explosions in the state’s chemical and industrial plants have cost more in property damage than in every other state combined.
Instead, California puts its people first. Thanks to Democratic supermajorities, California domestic workers now have a right to overtime pay. Cities can be penalized if they don’t pay workers prevailing wages. And California became the first state to provide paid family leave because “family values” has nothing to do with hating homosexuals.
California has the second lowest mortality rate in the country, behind only Hawaii. (In fact, the 12 states with the highest mortality rates are red states, while the 10 states with the lowest rates are all blue.) It has the fourth lowest carbon emissions in the country per capita, and half the emissions in real terms of Texas, the state with the most.
California’s gas mileage standards set the standard for the entire country.
The more Democratic the state becomes, the more successful it becomes. Democrats now hold all eight statewide elected offices — all but one were double-digit wins in 2010, when Republicans romped everywhere else. Republicans hold just 15 of California’s 53 U.S. House seats, 10 of 40 state Senate seats and 25 of 80 Assembly seats, giving
Democrats a supermajority at the state Capitol. Of California’s 10 largest cities, just Fresno and Anaheim have Republican mayors.
California now has a balanced budget; its economy is among the fastest growing in the nation; and it is continuing to churn out the companies that are shaping the future. It should be no surprise that the part of Texas growing fastest is proudly “weird” Austin — the least “Texas” part of Texas. It actually looks a lot like California!
And that’s OK. California is pretty awesome. The rest of the country could use a little of its magic as well.
Moulitsas is the founder and publisher of Daily Kos.