A gut check for California conservatism
It was straight from Hollywood.
Countless comparisons were made in the Donald Trump era between the 45th President and Phineas Taylor “P.T.”. Barnum. After the showman’s standard-bearer was unceremoniously thrown from the center ring, John Cox, long-term candidate and current gubernatorial candidate, tried to fill the void. Literally.
He brought the bear with him.
Shaded by the looks of his rivals – handsome Governor Gavin Newsom on left, androgynous Caitlyn Jenner on right – as well as lack of platform, the 2018 Republican governor took the opportunity to rally take off in San Diego. Alongside a Kodiak bear in town known for its zoo, the Midwestern transplant made it look like American politics had become just that.
News of the spectacle made it to India, a country not known for its staid political arena. The Business hours noted the bear’s weight (1,100 pounds) and his name (Tag) and quoted in the affirmative for the Ethical Treatment of Animals People who said it was “shameful that Tag Kodiak Bear was exploited in this way”.
The partisan in Cox – he once hosted a “Friends of Saddam” feature on his Chicago radio show – must have been happy to attract PETA’s abuse. As if to back up his position on a paradise that was being disputed and regulated, authorities said they were investigating the man for a stunt offense. If American politics had become a blood sport, nowhere more so than in Sacramento, except perhaps in Washington, then the budding governor would have gone a step further and brought the bear baiting back, his enemies said.
The point of it all, Cox said, was that the beleaguered incumbent, Gavin Newsom, was an example of the superficial “beauty” of California and that he, Cox, was trying to return some of the “beasts” that once powered America’s largest state.
You can hardly blame him.
While John Cox won’t become governor, it’s hard not to conclude that something has gone hopelessly wrong on what Hunter S. Thompson called the state on what Hunter S. Thompson called. The late journalist’s room in San Francisco on Point Lobos Avenue at the Seal Rock Inn was closed, as was so often the case during construction, and then panicked over COVID-19 last year, but has now partially reopened. Like many restaurants, the famous diner didn’t make it down there.
Represented in Congress by Nancy Pelosi and is said to be the home of the famous latte-slurping liberal “S.F.”. was the boogeyman jurisdiction of the Republican Party of George W. Bush. A rating that looks ridiculous in retrospect. It could have made for a fun proposition South Park Episode where visitors were suffocated by overwhelming “complacency” rather than west coast smog, but the 2000s city was in many ways an example of a particular far-right ideal.
The Bay Area was technically dominant, optimistic about the future, beyond imagination and with its temperate climate, seemingly astride nature, the home of John Galts like Elon Musk, Peter Thiel and others. But sometimes nightmares come true. As Thompson iconically wrote in Fear and horror in Las Vegas: “We had the momentum; we rode on the crest of a high and beautiful wave … Now, less than five years later, in Las Vegas you can climb a steep hill and look west, and with the right eyes you can almost see the high watermark – the place at which the wave finally broke and rolled back. ”
That place is San Francisco.
What was the hellish landscape of conservative fanfiction in the noughties has increasingly become the reality of the decayed left dogma. It must have been humorous for Bay Area residents to hear of their evil when Steve Jobs unveiled the species-changing technology from his platform in Palo Alto.
It’s less laughable now when the metropolis is a national symbol of the violation of values that modern liberals hold in high esteem: obscene inequality (despite absurd taxation), macabre homelessness (despite commitment to housing for all), blatant drug deaths (certainly a downer for those who would abandon all bans), the blue sky turned really orange last early autumn (despite incomparable environmental protection).
With the exodus of its most famous, albeit controversial, residents (Musk, Thiel), the land of the Golden Gate has turned alarmingly to a new status. Blink and you can see São Paolo on the Pacific Ocean: beautiful and yet miserable; a land for the rich; defined outside its walls by tent cities competing with favelas; monopoly, oligarchic, in decline; obsessed with race; funny and lazy. If America’s fear is fear of another Californication, California’s fear could be fear of another San Franciscation.
In this milieu, the former mayor of the city is in the political crosshairs. Governor Newsom is expected to be re-elected in late summer this year, likely in November. The last time Arnold Schwarzenegger ended the Gray Davis administration he was a city overseer. At the time, Newsom was married to Kimberly Guilfoyle, the daughter of a legendary S.F. Democratic fixer, currently the girlfriend of Donald Trump Jr. The governor’s relationship with Vice President Kamala Harris is troubled. Had the 2020 Biden Harris ticket gone down in defeat, it wasn’t exactly the scribble of humorists to speculate that Guilfoyle would have been married to both Republican and Democratic candidates in the next presidential election.
A lot has changed in 20 years.
Newsom’s public remarks are a mixture of Bourbon anger that anyone could question his government’s pandemic lockdown policies – the restaurant that brought him here had the Jump Shark title of French Laundry – with the institutional knowledge that Republicans would came to get the king two Decades ago they didn’t miss it. In addition to Cox and former mayor of San Diego, Kevin Faulconer, former interim director of the National Intelligence Service and Republican knife fighter Richard Grenell is also considering an offer.
But in the land of show business, one name stole the show: Jenner.
It remains a puzzling campaign. On one hand, the former Olympian has the brand awareness, notoriety, and funding to make such an offer a big deal. Jenner has shown Trumpish panache, citing the disappointment of other private jet asphalt residents with Sean Hannity as an example of California’s demise, and claiming a position on “Sanctuary Cities” that equates to wanting the state to be a corporate haven. It goes without saying that Jenner is the most famous transgender American – and a genre-defying Republican at that – at a time when the phenomenon is boiling in the nation’s political debate.
On the flip side, the Jenner campaign has become a haven for unequal players like Brad Parscale, the former Trump campaign manager whose reputation for financial decency and political prowess has fallen into disrepute over the past year. Also that Jenner did not use celebrity for further excitement is definitely not Trumpian and questions the seriousness of Jenner’s crusade.
So Newsom will take a lame win this fall despite the California malaise. He would have to run again next year if he dared to be re-elected. With Harris in the saddle in Washington and his struggles on the Westside, Newsom’s political life has become a veritable drudgery, with no aim other than down, far from a few years ago when Angeleno Bill Maher hailed the handsome whites as the ideal Democratic presidential candidate Defense against Trump terror. These days it is Real time Lambast hosts Newsom for his hypocrisy and says his summer stint at the laundry last year was like being laden down with the mothers against drunk driving.
It’s a strange dominance for the Democratic Party in the Crown Province of the Left Coast. Donald Trump can be persona non grata,but more Californians voted for him than ever for native son Richard Nixon or even for his adopted son Ronald Reagan. The story of the Latinos who crossed to the right happened in the nation’s largest state, a particular concern of Democrats in a place where the Hispanic establishment has long felt excluded from power. It is no coincidence that Newsom recently knocked his friend Alex Padilla in a hasty ointment at the Senate.
In 2020, radical left-wing election initiatives like cicadas went under in the fall: to affirmative actions, to carpooling, to a bond initiative for public schools. Not only has the state lost seats in the US House of Representatives to depopulation, it has also lost some republican. Southern California, Asian American, and female freshmen like Young Kim, a mother of four, are certainly unwelcome developments for the state’s Democratic old guard.
But all in all, in the historic home of skate parks and silicon, the Republican brand is as strong as New Coke these days. As is the case at the national level, Registered Independent Registered Republicans compete, perhaps rightly. But in a country with two GOP presidents it was a real fall from grace. In the sign of the times, the Hollywood self-help group “Friends of Abe” even disbanded in 2016. But to monitor the jostling of a character like Newsom, who once wrote a book called “Citizenville,” you come across a town square ripe for rebellion.
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