If you roll back the timeline to 1978, you’ll recall that the “tax revolt” began with the landslide passage of Proposition 13 in California, which cut property taxes by more than half, severely limited their future increase, and imposed a 2/3rds requirement on the state legislature for all future tax increases. The tax revolt spread quickly around the country, with Michigan and even Massachusetts (!) cutting property taxes significantly. It was a milestone in the supply-side revolution that culminated two years later with Reagan’s election, and his income tax rate reductions shortly spread around the world. Even those Scandahoovian “social democracies” cut their income tax rates (and some even abolished their capital gains taxes entirely) by the mid-1980s.
The left didn’t take it well. I think my favorite example of a liberal freak out was New York Times columnist Tom Wicker, who ran a column attacking the voters of California under the headline “How To Spit in Your Own Face.” Because high taxes are good for you, you lowly peasants. The left in California has dreamed for years of overturning Prop. 13. As late as 1994 I was debating liberals (like Richard Reeves once in Santa Barbara) about their mania that everything wrong with California could be attributed to Proposition 13.
This week California delivered another mortal blow to progressivism with the vote in San Francisco to recall three far-left school board members by a 3 – 1 margin. I think that qualifies as a landslide. In San Francisco. Where Republican voters can fit in a phone booth. The crazy three were behind the risible idea of stripping the names of Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and even Dianne Feinstein from schools, and with one member saying that Asian success came from their embrace and practice of “white supremacy.” This is the face of so-called “anti-racism.”
You’d think that, like Prop. 13, the left might learn a lesson. This ought to be the political earthquake that shakes the foundations of progressivism. Smart liberals like James Carville have been saying this for several years now. I think his phrase is that Democrats need to stop taking their politics from the faculty lounge and go back to taking their cues from union halls (most of which will tell Biden to build the Keystone Pipeline). But of course not. Since the core value of progressivism is the fixed belief in your own moral superiority, changing one’s mind is not permitted.
The left is not taking this result well. The prize for the most unhinged reaction so far comes from—wait for it!—CNN’s Nicole Hemmer. You couldn’t see that coming!
Let’s just linger with this headline for a moment. It’s amusing how progressives say they want to hear the voice of the people (and have more people voting, several times if convenient), but then deplore the people when they produce the “wrong” result. And “wrong” often jumps to “dangerous.” Those dangerous voters in San Francisco!
Anyway, the rest of this long, lugubrious article fully lives up to the headline. As I like to say, you have to read it, not to believe it. A few short samples:
But while the results in San Francisco may resist simple analysis, the politics swirling around the recall tell us something important about a process underway across the country. In San Francisco, deep-pocketed, right-leaning donors shoveled money into the recall, while activists and media outlets began using language that lashed together the disparate dissatisfactions into a coherent message.
OMG—a “coherent message.” What a thing. Behold the power of San Franciso’s right-leaning donors, whose success in generating a “coherent message” has reduced the left to incoherence.
From here the article wanders through a potted history of public education controversies going back to the 1990s (the controversy over “Ebonics” even shows up for duty), in a transparent effort to change the subject and distract the reader, as none of those older controversies have any connection to the issues that rightly enraged even most left-of-center voters in SF.
Political organizing around schools is nearly as old as compulsory schooling itself, sparking battles over access, the teaching of subjects like evolution and sex and mandatory prayer and pledges of allegiance. Parents played a role on both sides of all these issues, advocating for the school rules that they felt aligned with their own values.
Yet because so many of these issues would ultimately be settled in state legislatures, Congress and the courts, the right successfully framed school politics as concerned parents having their rights infringed by politicians, bureaucrats and judges.
Perhaps the right “successfully framed” school politics as being an infringement by bureaucrats and judges because it is true? Perish the thought.
Memo to the left: please please stay in denial. We’ll see you in November.