Plotting the Future of California’s GOP

Last month, I was invited to be on a panel at the bi-annual convention of the California Congress of Republicans. This isn’t just a gathering of like-minded conservatives. These are political activists whose lives are built around actually trying to wage successful campaigns in a state so blue, it could be renamed East Hawaii.

In case you’re unaware, this is the place where the Democrats hold super majorities in both the state senate and the state assembly. This is the place that Dianne Feinstein, Barbara Boxer, Henry Waxman, Brad Sherman and Maxine Waters, call home. We’re the cuckoo nest that decided that the only thing better than having a young Jerry Brown as our governor was having an old Jerry Brown.

The folks who show up at these conventions are nice people, but they are so divorced from reality that they actually believe they can win elections if they simply make 10 more phone calls or knock on 10 more doors at election time. And the truth is, they can. But only if they’re outside the large urban areas on the coast, which just happens to be where most of us live.

The way I look at it, they’re not hurting anyone and everybody needs a hobby. It’s sort of like the arts and crafts classes they have at the asylum. The activities aren’t going to cure the inmates, but it keeps them occupied. So it is that while the crackpots stay busy making lanyards and pot holders, California Republicans hold conventions.

The panel consisted of five politicians and me. I figured I had them out-numbered.

In my opening statement, I said, “When I heard I’d be up here surrounded by politicians, I figured I might have to use a crow bar in order to get a word in edgewise. So I better get it all said up front.

“There may have been a few California Republicans who couldn’t make it today because of the lousy weather, but it seems to me that most of us are in this room. Hard to believe that when I was young, California was a conservative state. What’s more, the L.A. Times was a conservative newspaper.

“When I heard Dick Morris tell Bill O’Reilly a few years ago that Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina were locks to win their elections against Jerry Brown and Barbara Boxer, I began trying to track him down. I didn’t want to set him straight, you understand; I just wanted to get a bet down.

“The fact is, I was convinced that Mitt Romney was going to defeat Barack Obama up until the time I heard Morris agreeing with me.

“The trouble in California is the trouble with America. Most voters are dumb and lazy and are either getting goodies from the liberals or hope to get them. And it certainly doesn’t help that the Left controls the message because they control the mass media. There is at least a partial solution. Instead of sinking millions of dollars into her own ill-fated campaign, Meg Whitman should have been buying up newspapers and local TV stations. Frankly, with the state senate and state assembly in the hands of left-wing super majorities, I couldn’t even imagine why she wanted to be the governor of California.

“People such as the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson should be doing the same thing on a national basis. I’m not suggesting they’d be able to pick up ABC, NBC and CBS, but there are plenty of other media outlets they could buy up and control, including those targeting Hispanic and Asian voters. Adelson, who wasted millions of dollars bankrolling Newt Gingrich’s ill-fated bid for the GOP nomination, owns the Sands and is worth approximately $22 billion. He does own a newspaper, by the way. Unfortunately, it’s the HaYom, in Israel.

“On a national level, the GOP is so dumb that they don’t even take advantage of the fact that the Democrats allow a couple of stiffs like Harry Reid, a man born to oversee funeral arrangements, and Nancy Pelosi, who’s had so much plastic surgery, even her dog no longer recognizes her, be the face of their party.

“But what does our side do? Instead of counterpunching by making use of such smart and personable people as Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and John Thune, by having them front for our side, we wind up with John Boehner and Mitch McConnell. Now, behind closed doors, they may be two very savvy guys. I wouldn’t know. But in a world where image counts for a great deal, they are about as appealing as chicken pox.

“With the GOP, our motto seems to be: God forbid we ever take advantage of an advantage.

“Even when we had control of the White House and the two houses of Congress, from 2001-2007, we did almost nothing to promote a conservative agenda. Instead, we behaved like a bunch of giggly high school girls hoping that the starting quarterback, aka Ted Kennedy, would invite us to the prom.

“When it comes to strategy, it’s as if the Democrats are playing in the major leagues and the Republicans are like kids goofing around in a sandlot. That’s why the best we do when we somehow manage to win national elections, is to half-heartedly apply the brakes. Alas, that means that when the Democrats inevitably stage a comeback, they get to pick up exactly where they left off.

“I mean, we controlled the works for six long years and we never even tried to head off ObamaCare by applying a little commonsense to the problem of health care in America. Did we allow people to buy insurance across state borders? We did not. Did we initiate tort reform in order to safeguard doctors against nuisance suits brought by ambulance chasers? Of course not. I mean, why would we want to offend trial lawyers, who are probably the fourth most generous benefactors to the Democratic Party, trailing only unions, Hollywood nitwits and George Soros!

“I hate to come off as the Grim Reaper, but I’m afraid the GOP has a bleak future in California. Unfortunately, there are sizable blocs of California voters — Hispanics, blacks, Asians, Jews, feminists, gays and college students — who have, for a variety of mainly venal reasons, found their home in the other party. And the fact is, habits, let alone addictions, are tough to break.

“In case it escaped everyone’s notice, in the 2012 presidential election, the positive news in California was that Obama received 420,000 fewer votes than he garnered in 2008. The really depressing news is that even after the state barely survived four years of this menace in the White House, Mitt Romney received 200,000 fewer votes than John McCain!

“But, in the spirit of the occasion, I will try to end this address on a high note. The truth is that things, even here in California, are not entirely hopeless.

“For instance, if that huge earthquake we’ve been hearing about our entire lives finally hits, and manages to dump a 30 mile swath of western California in the Pacific, not only would this hotel have an ocean view, but we Republicans would never lose another election.”

©2013 Burt Prelutsky. Comments? Write

Author Bio:

Burt Prelutsky, a very nice person once you get to know him, has been a humor columnist for the L.A. Times and a movie critic for Los Angeles magazine. As a freelancer, he has written for the New York Times, Washington Times, TV Guide, Modern Maturity, Emmy, Holiday, American Film, and Sports Illustrated. For television, he has written for Dragnet, McMillan & Wife, MASH, Mary Tyler Moore, Rhoda, Bob Newhart, Family Ties, Dr. Quinn and Diagnosis Murder. In addition, he has written a batch of terrific TV movies. View Burt’s IMDB profile. Talk about being well-rounded, he plays tennis and poker... and rarely cheats at either. He lives in the San Fernando Valley, where he takes his marching orders from a wife named Yvonne and a dog named Angel.
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  • richard whaley

    Very good point concerning the behavior of the Republicans when Bush 43 was in office and Repubs had control of Congress. Sometimes I would holler at the tv asking why they want to act like Dems. The tipoff was his reference to “Compasionate Conservatism.” Drove me crazy and I don’t think I’m calm yet.

  • cmacrider

    Burt: was there any response to your idea that rich republicans should start buying up some of the media?

  • Wheels55

    Burt, time to move to Florida. Different whackos here, but we need more like you – much more.

    • Burt Prelutsky

      Thank you for the kind invitation, Wheels. But this way, you get me, but I get better weather…though worse everything else.


  • artlouis

    How did the politicians react to your speech?

    • Burt Prelutsky

      art: They were polite, but I got a chuckle or two out of one of them. For the most part, they were only listening to themselves. They’re politicians, after all.


  • JohnInMA

    It’s my observation that Republicans have been in competition with the Dems for what many might call ‘progressive’ voters since Reagan left office. Only since the manure hit the fan regarding the economy have noteworthy, true fiscal conservatives started to arrive. Some even get national attention and do at least a mediocre job in public speaking. You know they exist because of the steady attacks and demonizing from the left, and especially the media. But it’s a new phenomena within the GOP I think.

    Sadly for CA, with only about 33% registered as GOP (from memory….may be off), the hunt for progressives probably still holds true. Given how the educational and cultural/media systems are predominately preaching how progressive ideas are fair, just, etc., it doesn’t seem likely you can win an election with a purely conservative agenda. The situation is not much different here in MA. The only candidate to pop up to compete in the special election for John Kerry’s seat is an unknown businessman, Iraq War veteran, who is Hispanic. He hasn’t even really taken much of any position except to criticize big government’s role in hindering our economy and business success. And already the knives are out from the Dem machine. He isn’t likely to be as wealthy as Kerry, but I fully expect to hear one-percent gibberish until I turn numb to it, as he has been a successful investor (Haaavad MBA).

    • Burt Prelutsky

      John: Why has Scott Brown decided not to run? He wasn’t exactly a conservative’s wet dream, but he was pretty good, considering he represented Massachusetts.


      • JohnInMA

        Burt, he offered a good part of his rationale openly. Essentially by the time the full election would come around, he would have run 4 separate campaigns for election to Senate in less than 5 years.

        Chit chat in some political circles in MA is that he is more interested in running for governor in a year. Deval Patrick is doing a decent job of making a moderate Republican look appealing by then.

      • JohnInMA
  • GlenFS

    Burt, thanks for the humerous state-of-the state review. Texas is still controlled by the mosty sane.. for now, so it consoles me somewhat to our national disgrace.

    You are right about the GOP being giddy girls when they’re in power. It almost seems they don’t feel validated until the leftist pop culture thinks they’re cool, so they waste their time and political capital courting it.

    • Burt Prelutsky

      Glen: You’re right. Sometimes it seems that for Republican pols being nominated and elected is nice, but they’d trade it all for the opportunity to guest host “Saturday Night Live” or appear, like Chris Christie, on David Letterman’s show.