Right-wingers control Republican legislators

In researching information for our upcoming Voter Guide, I came across statistics amassed by the California League of Conservation Voters (CLCV) which demonstrate unequivocally how the extremists have gained control of the Republican party in California. Where in 1988, Republicans in the State Senate collectively received a 68% record in voting for the environment in 2005, that number was 5%……and that was up from 1.5% the prior year! By comparison, the Senate Dems were at 89%– in 2005 they were at 91%.
The Assembly Republicans were at a meager 28% support of environmental protections in 1988. In 2005 their record was at a stunningly low 4%!
If there were any question that the Republican party isn’t the same one your parents or mine may have supported years ago, these numbers put the debate to rest…..and of course, raise the spector or just which party has become the out-of-touch party over the past two decades.
The statistics also put to rest the absurd and inaccurate claim that the Democratic Party has also been co-opted by extremists–but on the left. The numbers show that Senate Dems remained consistently in support of important environmental protections,and show that Assembly Dems have not deviated “left” either. In fact, there has been a slight but discernable shift in the other direction in the Assembly, where Dems. have gone from an 88% to an 86% record during the same period from 1988-2005. If anything, we must watch carefully for an increase in influence in the so-called “Business Dems”-those who follow-the lead of Republicans and Big Corporate influences in killing important consumer and environmental legislation. For the full story, take a look at the CLCV site at: www.ecovote.org.
These statistics beg the question of whether the further right-wing extremism of the state’s republican legislators is due to the redistricting debacle of 2002 or the right-wing takeover by the Bush/Rove machine? Consider what has happened to the legacy of people like Ken Maddy,Pete McCloskey, Tom Campbell and the few other so-called “moderate” Republican voices in California. They have been replaced by the likes of ultra-extremists led today by Senator and Lt. Governor aspirant, Tom McClintock, who has moved from the fringe to the norm of the Republican party only because the ideology has moved in his direction, and not because he has moderated his extremist views. The right-wing agenda coming from the Bush/Rove machine in Washington has, somewhat predictably, carried into the lexicon of everyday political debate. That is the power of the Bully-Pulpit.
Fortunately, though, we’ve been able to mute its effectiveness. It also continues to self-destruct as we see its incompetence, corruption and cronyism so negatively affecting our everyday lives and, sadly, the standing in which our nation is held in the world today.
We in California must continue to reject this extremist view of life and politics. Although the congressional and state legislative districts have been gerrymandered so that it is difficult to get reasonable and moderate Republicans elected in the “red” parts of California, we must continue to address the important issues that affect us all—education, health care, the environment, consumer protections, privacy rights,and the important other progressive values that we seek to protect and advance. They are OUR issues and they are EVERYONE’S concerns in California. It’s time to vote the extremists out and get California back on track in leading the nation.
But the next time someone insists that extremism is not just a Republican characteristic, remind them of the statistics that clearly show the shift has come from the far-right. Don’t let them try to marginalize our values by shifting responsibility for the gridlock—it belongs firmly on their shoulders….. Let the party of “responsibility” take some for their unwillingness to abandon their extreme positions and refusal to participate in governing for the benefit of the people of our state.