California Dreamin’ — A Night in the Jungle

I have been a denizen of Southern California these past 30 years, and I have been living in Orange County these past twelve. Let there be no doubt: Orange County is among the last redoubts of the California conservatism that endowed this state with governors like Ronald Reagan, George Deukmejian, and Pete Wilson. Here in Irvine, the jewel of the O.C., we are the Resistance to the Resistance. Put otherwise: We Orange County Republicans are absolutely irresistible.

The media narrative has been that a “deep blue wave” is about to drown the Republicans in November when a bunch of historically stable GOP Congressional seats will be overcome like a Pacific Ocean tsunami, as Democrats sweep in to seize House seats in districts where Hillary Clinton decidedly beat Donald Trump in 2016. The narrative is appealing on its face:

Hillary won California by a wide margin, actually giving her a slight overall nationwide majority in the final fifty-state popular vote tally. Thus, President Trump presumably has proven to be unpopular even among California conservatives. Two solid Republican congressmen, reading the mainstream media tea leaves, announced their retirements for this round: three-termer Ed Royce in Orange County and veteran Darrell Issa in conservative San Diego. Another in San Diego, Duncan Hunter, is under some investigation. Yet another in the O.C., Dana Rohrabacher, supposedly is in trouble with his constituents because he supposedly focuses more on foreign affairs than on more local issues — and, again, Hillary won those districts last time around. The media narrative continues:

Beyond that, California was among the deep blue states that came out a bit on the shorter end of the fabulous Trump tax cuts. Our real estate values are very high compared to those in other states, and we regularly benefit from the Schedule A tax deductions for mortgage interest on our home loans and for property-tax write-offs. However, under the new tax laws, we now find ourselves statutorily limited by a new deduction ceiling that restricts the total deductions we can take on that mortgage interest and property tax. Therefore, the media orthodoxy anticipates yet an additional reason that Republicans in California are ready to jump off the cliffs like lemmings and hand America over to three other California darlings we adore: Nancy Pelosi (she of the crumbs) and Maxine Waters (she of the dumbs) and Adam Schiff (he of the bums). The presumption therefore is that we will punish our Republican congressional representatives for letting us down.

But the Tuesday primaries point to a very, very different storyline. First of all, we are not going to punish them for that. We still got a great tax cut. It still has energized the economy. If we do not see the full results that we otherwise might have seen, we still benefit as the tax cuts get externalized into the economy. Unemployment is so low. African Americans and Latinos enjoy their greatest employment numbers ever recorded. We are standing up to the mullahs of Iran, now focused on their ballistic missile build-up and exporting of terror. We are standing up to trade partners who have taken advantage of us forever. We are rebuilding our military to be the force it needs to be, and we are protecting our veterans. We moved our Israel embassy to United Jerusalem, the eternal capital of Israel, and we veto anything in the United Nations that reeks of Jew-hatred against Israel or weak-kneed West European pablum (the same thing). We have excised regulations that strangled the economy. We are protecting college students from being railroaded by kangaroo courts under old Obama rules and threats. We are staring down the National Football League and fighting to take back our culture and civilization, including but not limited to respect and love for the flag and the national anthem. We have Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court, a boatload of new lifetime-appointed conservative federal district and appellate judges either approved or in the pipeline for confirmation. We are going to have the wall, one way or another, sooner or later, and we are doing what is right at home and in the world. Some of the guts of Obamacare have been cut out, and a few more Senators this November will help us do more without having to rely on the whims of the one or two Republican senators who occasionally block the machinery. So, no, we are not in the mood right now to punish our Republican congressional representatives, to cut our noses to spite our faces.

It turns out from the vote tallies that the Republicans held their own and often even trounced opponents in the “Hillary-beat-Trump” districts. In virtually every one of those districts, where the primaries were not conducted by party but instead jungle-style, with everyone clawing against each other in one big mess, the Republicans aggregated to more than 50% of the vote. In some of them, one single Republican got more than fifty percent. In others, one Republican was decidedly the main vote-getter among the bunch, and all the Republicans added together to exceed fifty percent. But how could that be? How do we explain Republicans winning districts that Hillary won in 2016? Are we truly satisfied only with crumbs?

The reality, I believe, is that tons of California Republicans and conservative- and moderate-oriented Independents did not even bother to vote in 2016 because we had no one to vote for. There was no point. I explain:

The way that California now does primaries, as noted above, is that everyone’s name goes into one big fish bowl. If there are five Democrats, six Republicans, a libertarian for spice, a Green and Peace candidate for protecting us from plastic grocery bags, a San Francisco maniac who thinks he already is Emperor of California, and two other candidates on witness protection, that means we get to vote at the booth for our choice among one list of 16 names. The top two vote-getters among those sixteen will vie on the November ballot. The others will disappear. That means, unlike in most states, there is no guarantee that the November election choice will be between a Republican and Democrat. Rather, you might have to choose between two Democrats or, similarly, between two people on witness protection.

In November 2016, the anomaly saw the top of that year’s ballot offering voters a choice between Kamala Harris and Loretta Sanchez. Harris, who basically is the ultimate #MeToo hypocrite — because she has a totally non-stellar biography other than her time consorting with Willie Brown, once the premiere super-powerful Democrat power-broker who raised her up from girlfriend to Girlfriend with Benefits — and Loretta Sanchez, a good person but a liberal Democrat, were no reason for a California Republican to get out of bed on election day. And we did not need a college degree to know that, under the “winner takes all” rule of the Electoral College, Hillary was going to get all of California’s electoral votes. Therefore, tons of us never bothered to vote in November 2016. (I personally did vote. I always vote. It is a Jewish thing. The Tsar did not let us vote. Hitler did not let us vote. The Inquisition did not let us vote. So, it is a big thing to vote, even when the choice is ridiculous.) 

This means that, while the mainstream liberal media were agog with analyses that a Democrat tidal wave was surging, like the pea pods in Invasion of the Body Snatchers, to pillory Orange County and make it into Hillary, perhaps that narrative was not accurate but mere wistful liberal California Dreamin’. And indeed that is why Hillary Excuse #613 always fails, when she says she really won the Presidential election by virtue of the higher popular vote she registered. Nonsense: Donald Trump barely campaigned in California. Under the rules governing the 2016 Presidential election, he needed electoral votes, not popular votes. So she kept coming back to hobnob and fundraise with celebrities in racially White Silicon Valley, Malibu, and Beverly Hills, accumulated millions more votes — and Trump merely trudged to the hinterlands of Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Robbie Mook and Hillary may have shared many laughs over the way the rube with the strange haircut was wasting his time and falling further behind on popular votes, but he did capture those three Rust Belt swing states – even as Hillary beat him in some conservative Republican California congressional districts that he strategically bypassed.

(For those of you who understand baseball, imagine this scenario: You are at bat in the bottom of the ninth. Your team is behind by a run, say 4-3. The bases are loaded. The count is 3-0. But the other team has hit 4 solo homers, and your team has hit only 3 home runs. The next pitch comes in, and you see it is going way outside the strike zone, so far outside that the catcher will not reach it. If you do not swing, you walk in the tying run, and maybe the wild pitch even will bring in the winning run from second, or at least move him ninety feet closer to the plate. But then the game will end with you winning 5-4, but the other team will have hit more home runs than yours. So, if for some deranged reason you are determined not to let them beat you in home runs, then you swing wildly at the wild pitch and avoid walking in the tying run and setting up the winning. But no one sane would do that because the winner is the team with the most runs, not the one with the most homers. Same with the 2016 Presidential election. Trump grasped that the winner would be the one with the most electoral votes, not the most popular votes.)

Accordingly, it emerged from the Tuesday primaries that the Republican conservative districts that Hillary won actually were then, and still remain, Republican. The districts’ voters — Republicans, including conservative and moderate Independents — do not want the Democrats to take the House or even their local districts. We want Duncan Hunter and Mimi Walters and Dana Rohrabacher. If anyone knows Nancy and her Crumbs, it is we Californians. If anyone actually gets to see lots of Maxine Waters comedy sketches (like when she gives an interview), it is we in SoCal. So if we cannot have Darrell Issa again — a real shame — we will take whatever else the GOP’s got. But we want to hold the House.

Towards that end, the single most important attainment in the California voting was the miracle at the top of the ticket, where an utterly unimpressive Republican named John Cox came in second to an extreme San Francisco liberal, Gavin Newsom, in the jungle for Governor. There were two Republican candidates contending in the Governor Jungle: Cox and the much more impressive and ideologically conservative Travis Allen, a bona fide state assemblyman with an excellent record. I wanted Allen. We all expected that Allen and Cox would end up splitting the Republican vote, leaving both of them behind former Los Angeles Mayor Anthony Villaraigosa, who would manage to grab enough votes behind Newsom but ahead of them to grab the second slot on the fall ballot, thus shutting out any Republican from vying for Governor this fall. But President Trump endorsed Cox over Allen, and hundreds of thousands of Republicans like me shrugged our shoulders, Atlas-style, and we voted for Cox despite preferring Allen, to assure a better chance that at least one Republican would make it onto the November ballot. And we did it.

Cox probably will lose to Newsom in November. Then again, as Roy Moore proved in Alabama, as Eric Greitens has proved in Missouri, and as two Republican fools proved six years ago in the Indiana and Missouri United States Senate races, one never knows what might happen once an election gets rolling. One never knows. Regardless, the crucial impact is that California Republicans now will be motivated to vote for the big spot on the November ballot, whether because they like Cox or because they hate Newsom — or both. Thus, with a motivated Republican base sick of gas taxes and political correctness corrupting the public school system and public forum, sick of massive bullet-train boondoggles that mercifully should be put down and sick of taxes and more taxes and hidden taxes — they give you a traffic ticket for $35, and then the traffic court tells you that hidden added fees and taxes bring the penalty to $234 — and with primary results confirming that conservative Congressional Districts that Hilary won in 2016, where there was no real interest or campaigning transpiring, still actually remain conservative, an interesting wrench has been thrown into the spokes of the “blue wave” theology.

California will hold. And if the economy stays strong, and the President stays strong, as America remains on course to stare down Iran and North Korea while controlling our border, demanding true fair trade, and turning the direction of the federal courts and fighting to restore our culture and values away from those of Berkeley and Hollywood, then Nancy Pelosi can spend the next two years mumbling crumbs of nonsense into microphones, supported by Maxine Waters’s pearls of wisdom, and we will do our part to enjoy life in the Jungle.

Dov Fischer
Dov Fischer
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Rabbi Dov Fischer, Esq., a high-stakes litigation attorney of more than twenty-five years and an adjunct professor of law of more than fifteen years, is rabbi of Young Israel of Orange County, California. His legal career has included serving as Chief Articles Editor of UCLA Law Review, clerking for the Hon. Danny J. Boggs in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and then litigating at three of America’s most prominent law firms: JonesDay, Akin Gump, and Baker & Hostetler. In his rabbinical career, Rabbi Fischer has served several terms on the Executive Committee of the Rabbinical Council of America, is Senior Rabbinic Fellow at the Coalition for Jewish Values, has been Vice President of Zionist Organization of America, and has served on regional boards of the American Jewish Committee, B’nai Brith Hillel, and several others. His writings on contemporary political issues have appeared over the years in the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Jerusalem Post, National Review, American Greatness, The Weekly Standard, and in Jewish media in American and in Israel. A winner of an American Jurisprudence Award in Professional Legal Ethics, Rabbi Fischer also is the author of two books, including General Sharon’s War Against Time Magazine, which covered the Israeli General’s 1980s landmark libel suit.
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