Americans are being pushed apart by pundits and politicians who don’t really care about us. It is time to remember that most Americans share the same ideals and dreams. All of us share a common destiny. As Ben Franklin said during the Revolution, “We must indeed all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.”
Both political parties bear responsibility for the divisive trend, but as an old-school Republican, I acknowledge that my own party has lost its way in determining the future of California. To some, our state’s 2018 election represented a final nail in the GOP coffin. This may prove true, but I'm not ready to abandon the ship. Republicans still have valuable ideas to contribute -- ideas that can help Californians of every race, religion, gender, and income level.
Traditionally, California Republicans focused on helping all people by promoting individual freedom and responsibility, economic opportunity, sound fiscal policy, and cost-effective government.
We believed in helping people lift themselves out of poverty by providing world-class education and ensuring a level playing field. We stood for giving people the freedom to run their own lives and businesses without undue government interference.
In the 1980 debate during the primaries between Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, it was evident Republicans were pro-immigration, welcoming responsible people from all over the world who sought to live the American Dream. These people were secure knowing they would not be persecuted, and they built strong families and vibrant neighborhoods.
I believe an old-fashioned Republican can contribute in California today -- through honesty and optimism, common-sense solutions to real problems, and unifying Americans, rather than pointing fingers at others.
Most Americans can find value in these ideals. The truth is, the California GOP lost sight of its primary mission: To serve constituents. Ultimately, the party tried to force voters to buy things that most people don’t want to buy.
In a recent poll, voters were asked whether they considered immigrants “a benefit to California because of their hard work and job skills,” or “a burden…because they use public services.” The question didn’t specify legal or undocumented. Among Republicans, 55% considered immigrants a burden. But 83% of Democrats and 73% of Independents judged them a benefit.
The California GOP lost relevance because of a doctrinaire message and obsolete agenda that particularly makes many women, minorities, and young people feel unwelcome. These people should be the lifeblood of today’s party, but they gravitated to Democrats as the sole alternative, and today they have a stranglehold on state politics.
But there is danger for everyone in this situation. Without the essential checks and balances of a balanced two-party system, California is tilting toward dysfunction. Politicians cater to special interests, and are unable to develop real solutions for affordable housing, efficient transportation, and premier public education.
I believe that all Californians are tired of divisive politics. We are sick of seeing proposals which serve influential campaign donors, but not average people. We all want to restore balance in government -- and we want our elected leaders, regardless of party, to work together and compromise on bipartisan solutions that will last.
President Trump will be with us for at least another two years. Members of both parties must dispense with the same old talking points, and cooperate on smart, fair reforms on immigration, trade, and healthcare. We need efficient transportation, reliable water supplies, and affordable housing. We need state leaders to stop wasting the people’s assets -- our time, our energy, and our tax dollars -- talking about email servers, impeachment, and the latest minor scandal.
If you agree, tell your representatives to stop spending time tweeting adolescent insults -- or responding to divisive tweets. There are selfish people on both sides of the aisle, dividing the nation with every tweet, social media post, and blog entry. Tell your elected leaders you don’t want them to follow. You want them to lead.