THE BLOG

The Conservative Culture War on California

01/31/2013 10:20 am ET | Updated Apr 02, 2013

If anything defines the conservative mind, it is fear that disaster lurks around the corner. The end is nigh. Conservatives love to find ways to tie apocalypse to groups of people they just don't like. The modern liberal, on the other hand, believes he can remake society in his own image--another fallacy for another day.

Victor Hanson is a pundit at PJMedia, meaning well to the right on the spectrum. He thinks California is doomed, but not by some super earthquake but by demographics.

California has problems -- big ones. It has spent far more than it can afford, racking up huge debts, with generous pension plans for former bureaucrats; it catered to special interest groups and their spending demands. It has a system allowing people to vote new goodies for themselves, while declining to pay for them. It is a huge state, with lots of people, and many people per representation. It is a system ripe with perverse incentives and a recipe for disaster.

Where does Hanson place the primary blame for California's economic woes? Almost immediately, he claims that the California of the past is "dead due to the most radical demographic shift of any one state in recent American history." It's demographics! It's the culture war he says, not race -- though he mentions Mexican immigrants several times.

It's not just "the generation of immigrants" who are to blame, but also "a hip, youth, and gay influx to the Bay Area, Silicon Valley, and coastal Los Angeles that saw California as a sort of upscale, metrosexual lifestyle." He tells us "California now has an enormous number of single-person households, childless couples, and one-child families," all pariahs to those in what Ayn Rand called the "God-family-tradition swamp."

Hanson claims "The result of 30 years of illegal immigration, the reigning culture of coastal childless households, the exodus of the overtaxed, and the rule of public employees" gave Democrats a supermajority in the legislature. The supermajority did happen last year, but the economic crisis in the state has been building for decades.

Many of Hanson's purported facts are just not true. He blames Democrats, though it took a bipartisan effort to bankrupt the state. He says Democrats run things because of immigrants, single-person households, childless couples and one-child families. He made sure you know an "influx" of gay people are included as well.

He writes: "California now has an enormous number of single-person households, childless couples, and one-child families." The Census Bureau seems to be misinformed then -- perhaps they should get their data directly from Hanson instead of that laborious house-to-house procedure. The 2010 census actually indicates the percentage of one-person households in the entire country is 26.7 percent, but, for California, it is 23.3 percent -- well below the national average.

Single-person households make up greater percentages of the population in every single Republican-leaning state you can name, with the exception of Utah.

Actually, California has a relatively high percentage of households headed by married couples: 49.4 percent -- above the national average of 48.4 percent. According to Hanson's claims, however, a large number of those have no children, or one. That is also false.

The average household in the United States has 2.58 members, but in California, the average is 2.90. Californians are less likely to have no children, or just one, than the average American.

In California, 6.7 percent of the population is under the age of 5, while the national average is 6.5 percent. Those under 18 years make up 24.6 percent of the population, whereas, in the rest of the U.S., they are 23.7 percent.

Hanson's critique is an envy-ridden cultural attack. He claims an "elite" populates the coast enjoying "beautiful weather, the Pacific panorama, the hip culture of recreational light drug use, neat restaurants, fine wines, solar and wind romance, foreign cars and general repugnance at religion, guns, conservatives and traditional anything." Odd he would say that in an article that is one long "general repugnance" at the bulk of Californians. At least it isn't as trashy as Mexico, as he reminds us -- several times. It should be noted that the coastal "elite" in California are the bulk of the population, and that's only counting people who live in counties directly on the Pacific ocean.

Hanson thinks the "Latino population... would be in revolt over the elitist nature of California politics" except for the fact that they were bought off with government jobs and welfare. This is precisely the reason Republicans and conservatives have trouble wining Hispanic votes! Mr. Hanson's article is condescending to immigrants, blames them for changing the culture, and implies they are just bought off. Conservatives such as him push Hispanic voters away, along with the young, gay and other groups he mentions.

Hanson dreams of Latinos waking up, becoming conservatives, and pushing for "beefed-up law enforcement." (Ah, the favorite big-spending project of conservatives. It should be noted that the most powerful lobbies in California represent prison guards and police officers -- and are directly involved in the financial crisis Hanson laments.)

A fiscally sane agenda is needed for California, but as long as Republicans or conservatives package it by stereotyping Mexicans, the young, gays, "coastal elites," or whoever else they wish to drag into their damned "culture war," it doesn't have a chance. If Mr. Hanson wants to find the reason Republicans have little chance in California, he should stop looking out the window, and instead gaze