Political Hay

Reckless Abandon

A Zogby poll suggests Californians are hardly the socially permissive fodder state Democrats can abuse at will.

By 9.17.02

No social legislation is too extreme for the Democrats who control California's senate, assembly, and governor's office. The number of outlandish bills passed or proposed on their watch is staggering. This week's bill on Gray Davis's desk, for example, would force foster parents to receive homosexual sensitivity training.

California Democrats will likely pay a political price for this free-for-all. While the state's media and political elite reside on the far left of social thought, average Californians do not. The Democrats' aggressive social agenda invites a populist revolt.

In 1998, Californians overwhelmingly supported Proposition 22, the defense of marriage initiative. And polling on other social issues suggests that Californians still view moral liberalism with reserve.

Consider a Zogby poll conducted this summer on potential pro-life ballot initiatives in the state.(San Diego publisher Jim Holman commissioned it.) The Zogby poll found that Californians strongly support many pro-life measures.

To the question, for instance, "Would you vote yes or no on a proposition which would require at least one parent to be notified before an abortion can be performed on their daughter under the age of 16?" 85% of respondents said yes.

Eighty-four percent said that they would support a proposition requiring "that before an abortion was performed, a pregnant woman would have to receive accurate information about the options available to her, and the consequences and health risks to herself and future childbearing from an abortion."

Should there be a 24-hour waiting period before a woman can get an abortion? Zogby asked. Sixty-nine percent of respondents said yes. And 48% said that they would support a 48-hour waiting period.

The poll also indicated support for restrictions on taxpayer funding of abortion. Asked if they would support a measure that prohibited taxpayer funding of "abortions for a minor, unless a parent or guardian was notified before an abortion was performed," 60% of respondents said yes. Fifty-eight percent said they would vote yes to a proposition which would restrict "taxpayer funding of abortions...only when necessary to preserve the life of the mother."

Christopher Zehnder, writing in San Diego News Notes, notes that "Hispanic and African American support for all the proposed initiatives is higher than white support," and that ignorance among all groups of "how many abortions the state of California pays for" is astonishingly high. Asked by Zogby, "Are you aware or not aware that the state of California pays for approximately 10,000 abortions per month for any reason, including birth control?" only 25% of respondents said that they were aware of those numbers. Seventy-four percent said that they were not.

California Democrats thrive on such ignorance. They can ram through all manner of moral novelty as long as Californians aren't paying attention. California Democrats can count on this condition thanks to a socially liberal press and a sleeping Republican Party.

But California Democrats are getting greedy. They have been celebrating loudly in recent weeks the passage of the most pro-abortion legislation in the country. Davis beamed with pride as he signed bills requiring all medical programs in the state to teach students how to perform abortions and all hospitals to supply women with emergency abortifacients. He has recently signed legislation giving homosexual partners spousal inheritance rights, which led the ACLU to gush over California as the state with the "most expansive" domestic partner laws after Vermont.

In pushing the most outré elements of the left-wing agenda, the California Democrats are begging for backlash. How many homosexual foster parent bills and NOW-sponsored wish-list items can they pass before the state swings back to the right? The Zogby poll suggests that day is coming sooner than the Dems think.

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About the Author
George Neumayr, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is co-author of No Higher Power: Obama's War on Religious Freedom.