Three Political Parties Populate the New Legislature

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

If you listen closely to post election chatter you must conclude that there will be three political parties that occupy seats in the legislature sworn in today: The Democrats, the Republicans and the Moderates.

Questions about moderate Democrats, the so-called “Mod Squad,” and how they may influence the legislative process is a major unknown for the coming session. The number of centrist candidates became greater in the recent election, yet the California legislature continues to veer leftward and is expected to remain on that trajectory as it battles mandates from the Trump administration.

Frustrating Trump in California is one of the goals expressed by California’s political leaders. That insistence likely will wash up against efforts by the Mod Squad to bring a more centrist attitude and bi-partisan spirit to Sacramento.

The goal of many moderate legislators is to boost the middle class. Jobs and economic growth are the tried and true formula but that prescription often finds road blocks from environmental advocates, coastal elites, influential public unions, and progressive politicians who goals of reducing traditional energy sources and mandating new requirements and fees on business reduce job creating incentives.

The incoming legislature may see few contested elections until 2024 because of new term limit standards. That means this legislature can become more knowledgeable about issues and are able to work with colleagues who support different world-views to find common ground with lesser concern that their position in the legislature will be challenged come election time. That would seem to open the door for moderates to lead warring sides to centrist agreement.

But, California’s political tilt could also discourage the Mod Squad’s efforts. How well the squad is organized and how well the like members stick together on important issues will be tested. If members of the Mod Squad show resolve, it will only grow stronger.

The test will come when members of the Mod Squad must stick to their campaign promises. Plenty of candidates swear they will serve as centrists when elected and listen to both sides in political debate but once they are aboard the ship of state, pressure from leadership or powerful interests sway them off the middle path. Columnist Steven Greenhut wrote skeptically in American Spectator: “Sure, there are differences between coastal white liberals and Latino Democrats representing Central Valley farm districts. But the latter almost always go along with the former, although they occasionally resist some tax-hike idea that might make them look bad in their district. Basically, they are all liberals of one variety or another.”

Then there is the temptation of the supermajority two-thirds vote. That issue received as much attention from the media as the Mod Squad during the election.

Now that the two-thirds of both houses are under control of Democrats, pressure from allied interest groups will push Democrats to use the two-thirds power to raise taxes, create emergency legislation, or put issues on the ballot without the need to go through the expensive and time consuming signature gathering process. This is where the Mod Squad needs to stand tall and resist extreme efforts while sticking to the pledge of improving the economy and protecting the middle class.

It won’t be too long before we see if there are, indeed, three parties in Sacramento and if they can work together to improve California.

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