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Tyranny—California Style

We are constantly being told that California is a place of endless possibilities where a person can choose his identity, his gender, and who he loves all while living off the state’s generous social welfare, even if he (or she or ?) is in the country illegally.

Or as Gavin Newsom said in his second inaugural speech:

“Whether your family came here for work, or for safety, California offered freedom to access it, not contingent on you looking a certain way, talking a certain way, thinking a certain way.

And that’s what makes California special–it’s in our genes.  We’re a state of dreamers and doers.  Bound by our live-and-let-live embrace of personal freedom.”

But get crosswise with the state’s progressive vision of “live-and-let live” and woe unto you.

This reality was on full display recently at local school boards in Chino Valley and Temecula Valley, where parents had the gall to assert their right to defend the moral character of their children (an outdated concept, I know).

Those efforts, which involved limiting certain textbooks and requiring notification of parents if their child seeks to change gender identity (by changing names, for instance), were met with rebukes from Governor Newsom, Attorney General Bonta, and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond, each of whom promised a firm response to such insubordination.

(Just as an aside, among the first acts of communist governments was to destroy parental authority, along with the authority of the Church, in order to eliminate all rivals to the State.)

Prior to these contretemps, Assemblyman Corey Jackson (D-Moreno Valley) had already introduced a bill to make it more difficult for school boards to ban books.

And in case you’re wondering, Jackson isn’t interested in finding a middle ground.  In fact, he’s quoted in CalMatters (“When culture wars rip through California school boards, should the state intervene?”, July 28) as saying quite forthrightly “Once you start creating a climate that is not welcoming to all students you’re mandated to serve, districts need to know: We are coming for you.”

That statement should send a chill down the spine of every Californian.  By “you” Jackson clearly means not districts but parents, voters, and elected officials.  And it should be noted that charges of similar rhetoric by conservative parents speaking at local school boards garnered a response from the Attorney General of the United States.

A little closer to home, the State has forced the city of Encinitas to approve the construction of more than 200 apartments on a small parcel in a part of the city that has historically been an oasis of relative low density, all in the name of the state’s cause du jour—increasing the amount of affordable housing.  “Affordable housing” being another way of saying giving people of modest means the right to live in neighborhoods they otherwise could not afford.

For the unfamiliar, Olivenhain, on the border of Rancho Santa Fe and Cardiff, was founded by German colonists in the 1880s.  Although long ago given over to single family homes (on large lots) with modest horse ranches mixed in, for more than 100 years it has managed to maintain its rural character.  That legacy has been ended thanks to diktats from on high, despite (or perhaps because of) the city’s efforts to fight back.

And just who might be behind this assault on localism, community character, slow growth, and all those other values that the Beach City Bolsheviks cherish?  Why it’s the very same Gavin Newson and Rob Bonta who so diligently targeted reactionary, retrograde parents, both of whom took a direct interest in Encinitas’s efforts to curb growth.  So much for solidarity amongst comrades.

The dynamic in these two incidents doesn’t quite fit into the model of conflict that exists between the prerogatives of states vs the power of the federal government.  In that dichotomy, the states created the federal government (a fact which almost every student or practitioner of government in this country refuses to acknowledge) and thus have a greater claim to autonomy on many issues.  In contrast, the school boards, city councils, and multitudinous local agencies are creatures of the state, owing their existence to a charter or some other authorizing document.

But California—larger than Italy with a bigger population than Canada—is a country unto itself.  If the powers that be are determined to make every decision, even those historically left to local governments, from the confines of government offices in Sacramento, local interests will largely be at the mercy of the whims and preferences of…Gavin Newsom and Rob Bonta (or whomever replaces them).

As de Tocqueville observed “if you take power and independence from a municipality, you may have docile subjects but you will not have citizens.”

Sure sounds like tyranny to me.

J.S. Scifo is a North County resident who has worked in national and state politics.

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