Democrat Gavin Newsom, California’s likely next governor, has been pulled to the new Democratic base where emotion has replaced logic. The progressives want single-payer health care, and they want it now.
The $400 billion cost just for California? Just ignore that.
Republican John Cox is supported by President Donald Trump for governor because he enthusiastically embraces a president who has lied thousands of times, as documented by The Washington Post, and wouldn’t know the truth if it hit him in his orange face. Immigrants are rapists. The press, Justice Department and FBI are enemies of the people. Russia is our friend.
This insanity of the Trump Republican Party is obvious. But the irresponsibility of the Democratic left is quite troublesome: Free college, free health care, no fossil fuels, no statewide water system – on and on it goes.
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Gov. Jerry Brown summed up governance in a single illustration: If you want the canoe to go straight, you need to paddle a little to the left and a little to the right. Who wants to fly in a plane with only a right wing or only a left wing?
Effective governance is somewhere in the middle of the political spectrum. Whatever happened to “big tent” politics where the party that won elections was successful by accepting the broadest coalition of thoughts and interests?
Today, both political parties are in isolated camps where strict ideological platforms are required for entry.
Republican candidates are afraid of crossing Trump, and Democratic candidates are afraid of the progressives. It is all about the base on both sides.
But isn’t it simple mathematics? If the Republican base is 30 percent to 35 percent of all voters and the Democrat base is 30 percent to 35 percent, that leaves 30 percent to 40 percent in the middle. Since you need 50 percent plus one to win, can anyone explain both parties’ obsession with the base?
I know conventional wisdom has always been to go hard right or left in the primary and scramble in the general election to beat the other party to the center. But today the ideologues are so entrenched and extreme, how can this happen?
When a sitting president has several of his closest advisers convicted of felonies, his poll numbers stay the same and very few elected Republicans speak out, that’s a problem.
In California, political moderation has been very successful. Gov. Brown, a moderate, erased a staggering state budget deficit and turned it into a massive surplus. Covered California is so successful that only 7 percent of Californians lack health insurance. California is now the fifth-largest economy in the world. We have the cleanest air quality standards in America. We have a strong cap-and-trade climate change program that doesn’t penalize poor people and is building a high-speed train.
So enough with the slogans. Democrats need to be more focused on our goals. Instead of “free college for all,” how about vocational and technical training in our high schools? Free tuition for community college is also a solid, attainable proposal. And we should significantly increase online university classes, as the governor has proposed. We shouldn’t be saying, “Thirty years ago, college education was free.” We should be developing educational programs that reflect 21st-century innovations.
Republicans and Democrats, I know we need to fight during the election to win. But how about after the election, we lay down the extreme ideologies and focus on what government was meant to accomplish - infrastructure, public safety, and with liberty and justice for all.
David Townsend is founder of Townsend Raimundo Besler, a public affairs firm in Sacramento, and a participant in The Fresno Bee/McClatchy Influencers series.