The California gubernatorial primary debate on Tuesday night was mentally exhausting. If the candidates meant to wear their audience down to nothing in a war of attrition by means of bullshit, I guess they succeeded. At least they did with me, that is. The scary possibility is that there are actually constituencies for the garbage they’re flogging, and in the state that elected Kamala Harris to the United States Senate, that’s uncomfortably likely.
I listened to most of this dismaying spectacle on the radio, on the radio, Lord have mercy on us in this nightmare that Van and Fats utterly failed to stop. I don’t know whether the visual cues would have helped or hurt, or what either of these words even means anymore, and I’m not about to dial that shit up to see. To licentiously paraphrase Meat Loaf and his freak-ass songsmith Jay What’s-His-Name, I think it is (this is already a dumpster fire, so why not), two out of six not being really bad ain’t bad. If you insist on feeling sad for Argentina instead, realize that it’s probably at a higher state of civic and socioeconomic development than California right now. The Not Deplorable, as we might call them, were John Chiang and Delaine Eastin.
This is, however, all relative, as Mainers say when they’re dating. Chiang waded into the same swamp of crude language and thinking about the great virtuous strength of diversity that Gavin Newsom and Antonio Villaraigosa so ostentatiously inhabit, and Eastin, by my assessment the best speaker of the entire lot, used her podium as a bully pulpit to decry adultery, as notoriously practiced by our old boys Gavin and Antonio. Then again, if an occasional sub-Brenda Jorett-level scolding about the most ridiculously unenforceable morals clause is the worst we’ll have to endure from our next governor, we’ll be in pretty good shape. I mean, just look at the fucking alternatives, including ones we’ve already suffered.
I mention from time to time the unfortunate truth that the Republicans are not the absolute worst political party. Not Tuesday night’s crop: for the life of me I could not fucking tell the two of them apart, Travis Allen and John Cox droning on in the same generically Midwestern accent and cadence to express the same wretchedly tired talking points about small government and personal responsibility in the same belligerently self-righteous speaking style. I tried, again and again, but I couldn’t distinguish them for a minute straight. Maybe it is because they are white. They both sounded like perpetually aggrieved faux-middle-class rich guys worth a good ten times more than they let on with an hour or two of talk radio five days a week, probably funded by some gross medley of mail-order dialysis supply companies and two-bit goldbug scams.
One of them, I forgot which within ten seconds if I even tracked it in the first place, barked that the obvious alternative to the high-speed rail debacle is $59 fares on Southwest. This stupid fuckhead didn’t mention that these fares come with conditions, often including 14-day advance purchase and by the way we’re all sold out, and then announced that Southwest would be expanding its extreme transfarency under his governorship to a new airport that he’d be building in the Central Valley. Maybe he believed this, or maybe not; I couldn’t tell. What I could tell was that it was absolute bullshit: Southwest doesn’t even fly to Fresno (I’ve checked), and that fool will not be building a new commercial airport. Nice El Toro “Great Park” you’ve got there. Nice John Wayne, too; shame if Harrison Ford buzzed some 737s there and then told air traffic control that he was the schmuck who did it.
These weren’t the only two with vocal oddities. I wasn’t sure at the time that I’d be able to tell Gavin Newsom apart from Jerry Brown in a voice lineup. On second thought, I guess it would be a matter of gauging just how much gravel is rattling around back there. Chiang’s delivery came across as surprisingly meek and foreign-accented, but otherwise normal enough. Villaraigosa, true to form, sounded as greasy as he looks and tied several of his sentences into retarded knots that could be untangled only in context. Eastin had the sheer delivery style needed to read the drive-time news on NPR, but not the head trauma. This is an unreasonable thing to ask, but imagine Mary Louise Kelly, but not a dork.
Okay, this is insane: I just looked Radio MLK up, and damned if she isn’t a certifiable MILF. This is every bit as crazy as the time I discovered that Marco Werman doesn’t look like a total twink.
If this is the slate we deserve, we’re a bad people. We should have had some inkling of this for a decade or two, to be generous and nostalgic about what we possibly were at our historic best. The two overall strongest candidates, Newson and Villaraigosa, are notorious greasies. The only way either of the Republican shitheads has a chance of winning the general election in November is if they both somehow beat an evenly divided Democratic field in the jungle primary with support barely worthy of Ross Perot in a good year. Newsom has supposedly pulled ahead of the Democratic pack, and whichever Republican asshat pulled ahead with the funding is supposedly well ahead of the other assshat, something that I really don’t care to look up again because not only are they both all-around bigoted pieces of shit, they’re also of questionable enough mental character that I’d hesitate to trust either of them to water my plants.
This assumes a counterfactual California in which I have a place to live with room for some plants. It’s useful to scale up this exercise in the California that might have been and perhaps once was to include everyone who got run out of the state by skyrocketing costs of living and trashed job markets over the past thirty years. If any of us are sitting around scratching our heads about how and why the electorate became so distorted in recent memory, and the politics so dysfunctional, this should help explain some shit.
To licentiously paraphrase Sir Robert Peel, the policy is the public, and the public is the policy. The difference, of course, is that we’re the ones paying the Highway Patrol overtime to roust the homeless from the Capitol Mall at nightfall and also to facilitate Sworn Coffee Hour all summer at the Truckee Starbucks. We also have an uncontrollably metastasizing force of rentacops, an often marginally employable and out-of-shape group drawn from that half of the working class that can be hired to run off and, if need be, kill the other half of the working class. (Get back to me about Chippies being working-class when they no longer own motorboats.)
The public we’ve got is, as the candidates so annoyingly reminded us, diverse; it is our strength. They’re straw-manning most of the electorate if they’re trying to imply that anyone considers it an ideal for the Mexican to hate the Chinaman, the Chinaman to hate the Negro, the Negro to hate the Mexican, the Irishman to hate everyone, and the Italian to be WASP enough for the West. Fit the Indian into this wherever you fucking please, cross your feathers and dot your whatevers.
There are hardcore racial bigots in California, including ones noted for their service in the Trump White House, but they’re a minority. They’re nowhere near numerous, organized, or aggressive enough to determine the state’s politics unless the Democrats all shit the bed of one accord. Many of the bigots who lived here into the eighties moved way the hell north and east sometime in the nineties; Mark Fuhrman, for one, is up in Idaho on the Whitey Rez now. What’s left behind is a bitter rump, surprisingly affluent, by the way, chronically sore about how many fucking wetbacks there are polluting the state whose menial labor they themselves have absolutely no interest in undertaking, and equally sore about how they can’t live on the beach without sharing their state with a permanent majority of shitlibs. Idaho has beaches, too, but they aren’t in Orange County. Every belligerently whiny shit like Stephen Miller can afford to buy a shack in Mountain Home to serve as his domicile for voting purposes, and maybe save some money on car registration; as it happens, Southwest does fly to Boise, although not to Bakersfield.
This crew is a fucking disgrace. I am not here to concede it any legitimacy. That said, the center-left deliberately misremembers the turnover of California’s population circa 1989-2000 as the Expulsion of the Deplorables, a righteous crowd-sourced reverse Ferdinand and Isabella deal that finally made the Golden State safe for the swarthy. This just ain’t so. White bigotry is not in fact an inverse function of income and net worth. This is provably untrue. There are bigots among the white middle and lower classes, but the Americans who were effectively run out of the state starting around 1990 by an overheating housing market and a faltering job market were in no way all bigots, and they were not all white. There is no way this group didn’t include large numbers of blacks and significant numbers of Chicanos. I wouldn’t be surprised if it included significant numbers of active enrolled members of Indian nations. This diaspora was not a mashup of Roseanne Barr, Archie Bunker, the Beverly Hillbillies, and the Scandinavians habitually ridiculed by Garrison Keillor. My parents and I were part of it. It followed a large hippie exodus that started by the mid-seventies. Only a fool would underestimate how crunchy and bleeding-heart the California diaspora has been.
In the absence of these millions of onetime Californians, overwhelmingly driven away by excessive housing costs, it has become dogma in the Democratic Party to imply, if not outright state, that the importation of Latin Americans as their replacements is hella woke. This line of thinking is advanced by dipshits whose soft bigotry prevents them from even guessing how many African-Americans were driven back east in the midst of this same demographic turnover for the same reasons, so of course they have a soft spot for noble savages of variable English proficiency and generally foreign nationality. Everyone in California politics wants to exploit Latinos as an ethnic client base; the Democrats demand their loyalty to whatever weak-ass half-measure market-mediated excuse for social democracy they’re flogging, and the Republicans unctuously ask the top decile or quartile to defect to the right as hardy immigrant entrepreneurs forever grateful to the United States for giving them the opportunity to show how much more employable they are than the native stock. The only reason this year’s Republican gubernatorial candidates don’t do this is that they’re too deeply bigoted to seek any overt association with the non-Asian minorities. This is a garbage process driven by garbage thinking.
None of the four Democratic candidates at the debate Tuesday night took a stand against neoliberalism. Eastin came reasonably close, but she went at it very obliquely and vaguely. Bernie Sanders was a strong second-place finisher in 2016, so this is not just a function of everyone to the left of center in California loving the shit out of the neoliberal order. I was receptive to Republican counterattacks on neoliberalism, but I didn’t hear any, and both of the Republicans sounded like they’d capture and work to death slaves if they were allowed to do so. One of them, John Cox, I think, bragged about how he’d voted for Gary Johnson because he’d disbelieved Trump’s claims of conservatism, i.e., because Trump had shown enthusiasm on the campaign trail for the interests of the working class. Villaraigosa kept spitting out the same brain-dead talking point about how he supports the gig economy and sharing economy of the future. Dude must have been too busy holding a full-time salaried position as the Mayor of Los Angeles to do sub-minimum-wage piece work for Mechanical Turk.
No one who shills for horseshit scams like Uber is actually supporting himself as an Uber driver. Ben Sasse’s bragging about how he goes back to Nebraska and drives for Uber to meet his constituents and get to know their innovative economy is as believable as any other millionaire insisting that his brat is learning the value of hard work and self-reliance by running a lemonade stand in the front yard. The point here is that these assholes are allowed to make up just about anything about their politics, political history, and political theory without anyone interviewing them calling bullshit on assertions that are flagrantly false and out of line.
The debate had the unfortunate appearance of a classic ethnic divide-and-conquer scam. Again, the only reason the Republicans didn’t wallow in this particular fray was that they were too bigoted to even try to pander to the nonwhites. They left this to a Democratic slate made up of an Asian accountant nerd, a female teacher nerd, a greasy Latino influence-peddler who was brought up as assimilated into Anglo culture as any of us, and a slightly less greasy old-line Money Whitey. Strangle me, Schneiderman.
When Villaraigosa spoke of how he’d had to learn Spanish as a teen to facilitate his activism, he was for real; against the odds, that clown’s native language is English. His entire shtick is basically how do you do, fellow Latins. This has some really fucked up implications for Anglo-Latino communal relations, especially as envisioned by our political leaders. Can you imagine how LA’s Westside Jews would react if some guy showed up talking to them in broken Yiddish? They’d probably look at him like he had two heads. If Benjamin Netanyahu came by and lectured them in Hebrew, someone would probably pipe up and tell him, oh, for God’s sake, drop the act, you’re from Philadelphia. It isn’t that there’s anything inherently bad about Hebrew, or Yiddish, or Spanish. The point is that none of these is the Lingua Franca. That’s English, and everyone fucking knows it. Encouraging Latinos not to learn it seems awfully ulterior.
Since we’re already discussing the Jews, for better and worse, let’s compare them to the Asians, specifically the Chinese, who are also a group proficient in shanda fur die goyim stunts. I’m not trying to dog on John Chiang here; he seems all right, to the extent that anyone from his grotesque party can be expected to be all right. That he didn’t sound like he had economically recoverable deposits of facial oil was character enough in a race against Gavin Newsom and Antonio Villaraigosa, and second-best in a field of six is respectable unless all present are absolute garbage. But let’s not pretend that the overseas Chinese haven’t been bringing some ugly attitudes to California and exacerbating severe social problems that might well attenuate in their absence. It isn’t the Tingirideses who are demanding that the bums all be redlined out of Irvine, although this is English, so yes, that’s the plural. It’s the Money Chinee who are doing that.
And I don’t give a shit if I offend or scandalize them. What’s happening in Irvine, an overwhelmingly Asian city these days, is that they’re acting as an aggressive ethnic and class bloc, drawn disproportionately from immigrants, to keep poor Americans out of a city where they have an inalienable civil right to seek settlement as birthright US citizens. These same ghouls would be demanding that the government round up all the peasants and repatriate them to whatever internal provincial shithole birthed them if they were still living in the old country. Instead, they’re in my country, doing everything they can to dispossess my countrymen for being poor. This is wrong.
Again, this isn’t about John Chiang as their coethnic. Demanding that he do something about a group of racist bourgeois supremacists who raise hell whenever the county proposes siting a homeless shelter in their city would be like some random Chinaman demand that I do something about Harvey Weinstein as my fellow Jew. It isn’t that that motherfucker couldn’t be cause for anti-Semitism, or that I’m not Jewish enough to catch the blowback, but anecdotally, I find that full-blooded Jews are more cognizant of what a shit he is than gentiles, and I certainly have nothing to do with that freak. But the idea that any of us owes respect to a constituency that is acting like an ethnic colonist mob in our country is offensive and absurd. This is the same spirit of colonial aggression that gets overseas Chinese firebombed by the angry ethnic Malays they’ve dispossessed.
And for the love of God, let’s shut the fuck up, now and forevermore, about model minorities. This shit has nothing to do with ethnic comity. What’s actually happening here is that Latin American peasants are being imported as generalist scabs and educated Asians as specialist scabs. I don’t need a hive of clannish bourgeois supremacist shitheads who are scheming to take over entire city governments at the expense of vulnerable Americans to stick around in the interest of cultural exchange; bitch I can make my own hot and sour soup from scratch.
No, I am not a racial bigot. I’m complaining about specific social problems resulting from specific campaigns of bad faith by specific, and often local, constituencies. These include many of California’s premium crackers. Praising Mexicans for fixing us tacos and working harder than Americans is just fucking vile, and I dare say that Cesar Chavez would have been every bit as disgusted as I am by this condescending cultivation of pet scabs.
Are we really going to spend another 150 years as a state serially importing the most desperate and grasping people we can find from the four corners of the earth to serve as scab blocs and then denouncing whoever the hell is still around as a native stock, of whatever ethnic and racial background, for criticizing the resulting social problems and quite reasonably blaming them on interlopers with no civic virtue and a distorted, hostile, exclusive sense of community? If past is prologue, oh hell yes we will. Or maybe we’ll get another forty-year hiatus during which a government actually serving its constituents’ interests stops Stanford and Crocker from importing every surplus Chinese peasant their agents can find.
I have yet to find a proposal to restore California to a state of broad middle-class stability without any hint of nativism, and I don’t see why enfranchised constituents from long-established families and communities shouldn’t be higher priorities for elected officials than insular groups of immigrants who do what they can not to integrate into American society. When push comes to shove, most of this horseshit about multiculturalism and diversity is really just a scam to keep all the different servants around, orchestrated by influential affluent people who do everything they can to shelter and segregate themselves from the foreign hordes they so ostentatiously welcome into the state and the country. Like hell are these fools socializing with kitchen workers in Chinatown or farmworkers in Mecca.
There’s enough constant churn in the California electorate to keep this scam viable. For every normal, integrated, acculturated middle-class family with useful skills that is driven out of the state, a roughly equal number of Mexican peasants and H1B code slaves will be brought in to run the joint, along with a useless-as-all-hell domestic hipster or two to pretend to be employed, employable, and engaged in the work of American cultural continuity. Delaine Eastin’s campaign as the one credible gubernatorial candidate out of six whose public comments are affirmatively intelligent and thoughtful is frankly a higher grade of statewide politics than we could have expected of California, given who keeps showing up to try to hijack it. Thomas Jefferson Cares. That isn’t a sentence; that’s a gubernatorial candidate. The Republicans running this year are too decadent to try to stop hipsters from moving into Midtown Sacramento to be closer to the grilled cheese festival; they’re too entangled with the Mexican day laborer-intersectional construction industry to lift a finger to that scam.
This is why I insist on voting here. I’ll be damned if these shits will drive me out of the electorate of the state where I spent the first ten years of my life. My prospective neighbors in Midtown may not deserve so much civic resolution, but my plants damn well do. Say what you will about California having shitty fiscal stewardship, but never forget that my tax dollars are paying for a top-notch free arboretum, no fence, no wall. Among other things, of course, including the fucking Highway Patrol. But remember this, too: there is no natural law dictating that horticulture worthy of Brazil around the capitol is contingent upon Brazilian socioeconomics throughout the state, and if there is, we can use positive law to repeal it.
I’m not entirely sure that that made sense, but it was far too intelligent for statewide office in California.