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Kevin McCarthy, who rose to GOP prominence as a young gun promising to elect Californian Republicans, is now ready to ascend to his new role as Leader of House Republicans. But his reputation as a force for growth in the GOP — built in large part by his cultivation of solid Republican House seats in his home state — has been severely undercut by the losses by California Republicans in the 2018 midterms. According to the San Jose Mercury News:
Already, the Democratic wins have reshuffled California’s political map, cutting the state’s Republican congressional delegation from 14 to 11, with the possibility of their numbers falling to single digits. Orange County — which Ronald Reagan once described as the place “where the good Republicans go to die” — will have at most two GOP U.S. representatives come January and possibly none, down from four going into the election.
McCarthy embodies rise and fall of the GOP as a party interested in modernizing our nation’s outdated immigration system. In 2014, then House Majority Whip McCarthy advocated for immigration reform that included legal status for undocumented immigrants. Fast forward to 2018. In the run-up to the midterms, McCarthy kissed up to Trump and played nice with the Freedom Caucus by unveiling plans to introduce legislation chock full of anti-immigrant provisions, including funding for Trump’s border wall at the cost of $23.4 billion. Did he really think such a strategy would be good for his party? In diverse, immigrant-friendly California?
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice:
McCarthy went full speed ahead on President Trump’s xenophobic political ploy: drum up fear, divide and distract Americans, and cross GOP fingers that they squeak by with an immoral win. Americans, including Californians, knew better. We cast votes for a dynamic America of us, not a fearful America of us vs. them. The question has to be asked: why is the GOP promoting the man who killed their party?
Here’s what Kristin Olsen, the former Assembly Republican Leader in California, had to say in a piece entitled, GOP is dead in California. A new way must rise:
Republican principles used to be about helping other people. We believed in lifting people up out of poverty by giving them robust and free economic opportunities and by providing a world-class education. We stood for giving people the freedom to run their own lives and businesses without undue government interference.
We welcomed people from all over the world who sought to live the American Dream and contribute to the economy and society. They could be secure in knowing that they would not be persecuted for who they are and that they could build strong families and vibrant neighborhoods.
Unfortunately, tragically, that is not the Republican Party promoted by President Donald Trump and his brand of national politics today. We have lost our way, and it’s killing any opportunity for political balance and thoughtful debate in California, elements that good public policy relies on.
One party rule is not good for any community, state or nation, but that’s what we have in California today. It’s because the Republican Party has failed to adapt to changing demographics and to get back to our basic fundamental belief in liberty and responsibility, freedom, economic opportunity, and educational excellence.
Without a viable second party to voice concerns about increasingly progressive policy proposals and to advance alternative policy solutions for addressing the many challenges facing California, our state will continue to veer leftward.
It is time for a New Way. And if the Republican Party can’t evolve, it may be time for a third party, one that will appeal to disenfranchised voters in the Republican and Democratic parties who long for better representation and a better California for all.
Individual Republicans are good, conscientious people dedicated to serving their communities, but they belong to a brand and a national party that is toxic and growing more toxic by the day.
Millions of Californians, millions of Americans, want and deserve leaders who will shake up establishments and help those who have felt ignored for far too long.
These leaders must understand that words matter, that healing and unity is important to the sustainability, strength, and growth of our nation, that end goals do not justify vindictive or hateful or ill-conceived means.
As Californians and Americans, we must work together to find and promote such leaders— people with the courage to help us return to bold and civil discourse and who value and promote the fundamental principles and values of our American Republic and constitutional democracy.
We must hold people in both parties accountable for governing, truth-telling, and civility.
For Republicans, the first step is to acknowledge that we have a serious internal problem. Ignoring the toxicity is not enough, as California’s election results demonstrate. We must call it out and model a different and better way because that’s what our fellow Californians deserve.