California is dog whistle central for fearmongering Republicans
California is doing a lot of work for Republican politicians in several states, who are using the largest state in the nation as some kind of threat to voters. As Nevada attorney general and gubernatorial nominee Adam Laxalt put it, “Are we going to keep Nevada the Nevada we all love, this independent Western state, or are we going to turn into California?” Or “California is absolutely not the model for Florida,” according to that state’s Republican gubernatorial nominee, Ron DeSantis. “It would be a historic mistake to go down the road of being a high-tax, high-spending state.”
California is the fifth-largest economy in the world. It has a higher median household income than Colorado, Florida, Nevada, or Texas. It has a higher high school graduation rate than Nevada, Florida, or Colorado—among states with Republican politicians obsessed with California, only Texas is higher on that measure. Of those states, only Colorado has a higher per capita income or a lower homicide rate—Nevada, Florida, and Texas all have lower incomes and higher homicide rates. And it’s worth noting that while the Republican Governors Association has tried out California-themed attacks on Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jared Polis:
David Flaherty, a Republican pollster in Colorado, said he believed that advertisement had fallen flat.
“Are Californians moving here and changing our state, which is arguably what happened in Nevada?” Mr. Flaherty asked. “I don’t feel that is a prevailing thought in voters’ minds. We are not there yet.”
Attacks on California may dwell on taxes, but there’s something else at play: scary brown people and LGBTQ people (the Colorado attacks focus on taxes but it’s perhaps relevant to understanding the framing of a “RadiCalifornia” ad to remember that Polis is gay). Nevada’s Laxalt is open about the immigration fearmongering on California, falsely claiming that Californians are rioting over sanctuary cities.
California is diverse and progressive and successful. No wonder Republicans hate it, and no wonder they can’t admit to its successes.
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