There’s something charming about old photos of California. I like to see those faded Polaroids of a balmy, 72-degree beach in the early half of the 1960s. The bodybuilders are out flexing, the women are in bikinis, everyone has on a pair of Ray-Ban glasses and parked a short distance from the shore are their loudly colored vans and station wagons topped with surfboards. Back then, the whole California aesthetic was cool. Being fit was in. Kids hung out at milkshake shops. Design was going West Coast as bright colors were balanced with sleek and skillful simplicity. There were problems, sure. Maybe this was the start of America’s obsession with casual dress. Flip-flops, tank-tops, and cut-off jeans are all unbearable when worn anywhere outside of the beach. But I’ll cut California a break on this issue. After all, the Beach Boys might have had shaggy hair but they sang in sweet and spotless harmony.
It’s a shame that heaven couldn’t last forever. It’s from this nostalgic vision of California that one can understand just how far from grace the state has fallen. Surf shops have turned into grimy taco stands. The Beach Boys have been replaced by rappers out of Compton. Rebellious teenage greasers are now drugged up, MS-13 jailbirds. The cities have become a Mecca for hobos and illegal aliens looking for a safe haven. San Francisco has so many bums shitting on the street that there’s now a smartphone app that will tell you where the latest dung heaps have been spotted. Date rapists, sex traffickers, and those who’ve committed assault with a deadly weapon are considered “non-violent” criminals thanks to Proposition 57; the state gets to save a few nickels as these criminals skip merrily out of jail and back onto the streets.
And speaking of the almighty dollar, the state’s finances are also a shambles. If you tally up both state and local debt, California is currently 1.3 trillion dollars in the red. It has $78 billion in deferred highway and bridge maintenance costs. This means that once you’ve honed your skills dodging feces and knife-wielding maniacs you can take things to the next level by bounding over sinkholes and gaping crevices. If you have ever fantasized about being a Hollywood action star, I have good news for you: you’ll have to become one to survive in California.
But it doesn’t end there. In addition to its everyday, humdrum debts, California also has a $1 trillion unfunded pension liability and $150 billion liability in retiree health benefits. A little outside cash might be helpful, but the state can forget about attracting fresh investors since California has one of America’s highest corporate income tax rates. And the highest personal income tax rate, too.
It’s a state engineered for failure. Beelzebub himself could not have a pieced together a more sinister perversion.
There are many theories about how the Bear Republic found itself in this sorry state. Baby boomers, judging from their suburban alcoves, distracted momentarily from remodeling their soulless kitchens and watching Netflix, will assure you that the Democrats ruined California. The tattooed barista at Starbucks with a thousand-cock stare and a degree in gender studies will tell you that California is floundering because it isn’t progressive enough. Bernie Sanders would have turned things around, she’d say.
For me, this mystery isn’t very hard to solve. We only need to compare two snapshots in time, two highly relevant statistics, provided to us by the ever-assiduous US Census Bureau. In 1960, during California’s era of tan lines and surfboard shops, the population of the state was 92% white. In 2010, during California’s era of crumbling roads and illegal safe havens, the population was 40% white. This statistic should ring like thunder in the ears of every American under the age of 45. The Hispanics are 40%, the blacks are 6%, and the Asians are 13% — this means that the minorities can work together to squeeze their common enemy, the white Californian, to the point of suffocation. And the future brings no promise of hope. Whites accounted for 27% of all live births in 2016 while Hispanics gave birth to 47% of the new babies in the state.
This demographic truth transcends all party lines. It smashes all other paradigms. It’s true that Democrats opened the human flood gates, but it’s just as true that the Republican party laid down and let the flood roll right over them. Boomer hero, Ronald Reagan, issued America’s first and most damning amnesty. It was aimed primarily at dealing with the staggering number of Mexicans living in California around 1986; instead of giving them the boot, he signed into law their eternal pardon. The Republicans got so caught up in their own conceit, so hypnotized by their own pipe-dream principles, that they forgot all about common sense. When you import the third world, you become the third world.
I focus on the racial, rather than the political factors, for one very simple reason. We see one man as our head of state, one as attorney general, one as governor; we, the voters, imagine ourselves as individuals casting ballots for other individuals. Nothing could be further from the truth. Peel back the hard rind of democracy and there is nothing but demographics at the core.
Put yourself in the place of a mestizo in San Joaquin County. You have black hair and brown skin like most of your neighbors. You speak Spanish with a smattering of English, one or two words you’ve picked up from watching television. You drive a jalopy with an out of date inspection sticker that is just one oil change away from the junkyard. There are three generations of your family living under your roof. You might fancy yourself as being a unique individual, but curiously enough, your individual interests just so happen to align with all the other brown-skinned, black-haired mestizos on your street who speak Spanish. It’s not something you choose consciously. But without a doubt, those neighbors also drive a run-down car and their grandmothers also live in the same home as their drug dealing grandsons. It’s only natural that their interests are more similar to your own than the interests of limousine liberals in Beverly Hills.
This explains the schizophrenic neoliberalism of modern California. The right-wing has become a non-entity due to broad demographic shifts, so now the left is looking for a new cause to rally the troops as its different agendas can’t find coherence together. The mestizos lobby for handouts as the Beverly Hills crowd pushes for more solar panels and easier abortions. The only thing propping up California’s left-wing is its love of spending other people’s money. Even though the left won California decisively, and the state will never again vote right-wing in the purest sense of the term, the demographic laws of democracy remain as true in the City of Angels as they did in ancient Athens.
In a democracy, all politics is identity politics. It just doesn’t become apparent until your demographic shrinks so small that it can never again win an election. It’s only after your voice becomes a whisper in a room full of bullhorns that you realize you’ll never again be heard. There is no civic duty, no melting pot, no greater good in a democracy: there is only the slow, suffocating numbers of the herd.
Juan from San Joaquin doesn’t care about the white working-class losing their jobs to his illegal labor, nor does he care very much about the dollars and cents he skims off the checks of the white middle-class for his WIC assistance and his emergency room visits. Juan most likely isn’t an evil man. He’s just someone following an instinct to satisfy his own self-interest, which if Juan were alone would be no problem at all, but when Juan has millions of other people like him to vote alongside him, he becomes a threat to all those people who aren’t like him, and who don’t vote the way he votes.
Americans could learn a lot from California. Its language complications, its ethnic tension, its sinkhole finances — these will all become more frequent over the coming years. Around 2040, whites will dip down to less than 50% of America’s total population, and of course, when that happens, California will no longer be a warning but a prophesy.
The Golden State in the 1960s had exemplified the American dream: a place focused on fun, freedom, and easy-living. But easy-living isn’t quite as simple as it might seem at first glance. Sometimes it demands more effort to keep out the bad than to keep in the good. After all, the better the jewels a man has the better his lock will have to be to keep out thieves. It’s too bad most Americans didn’t realize that this same principle applies to immigration. America’s future is mirrored darkly in the looking glass of present-day California: corrupt, brown, and bankrupt.