Well over a century ago, British Lord Acton said that “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Less remembered is the second part of Acton’s warning: “Great men are almost always bad men.” Acton came to his view as part of his deep concern about the centralization of power in government.
One party rule is a form of the centralization of power. In California, there has essentially been one party rule in the legislature for two decades. Part of that is the fault of Republicans, for not providing a vibrant enough alternative and reaching enough voters. The Democrat lock on the legislature, however, reflects to a greater degree on the voters of California and the California Media.
As I have pointed out before, California is in trouble. The publication 24/7 Wall Street has rated California the worst run state in the country for three years in a row. Despite the state being number one in poverty in America, among the worst in education and job creation, horrific state debt and unfunded pension problems that some believe exceed $500 billion if not more, voters regularly return huge Democrat majorities to Sacramento.
Democrat voters in this state simply don’t hold their politicians accountable. However, that is not completely their fault. The California Media is to blame as well.
Despite California’s deep problems, the major media rarely takes California officials to task. For instance, in his last State of the State address, Jerry Brown did not mention the word poverty once and the word jobs only once. When he did, he claimed that a million new jobs had been created since 2010 – a number that is no more truthful than the number of ObamaCare enrollees. Instead of being forthright, Brown touted California’s supposed big comeback.
What was the media response to Brown’s Pollyannaish speech? Not much more than parroting Brown’s spin. Indeed, few bothered to seriously report on the throes of California’s poverty, education, jobs – and they don’t seriously question Brown on the issues. Indeed, they haven’t even raised a roe about their reduced access to this Brown administration.
As a result of the lack of serious coverage, voters don’t truly understand just how bad it is in many parts of California. In short, the California major Media is not informing California’s busy voters about the true state of California – and that has consequences – Lord Acton type consequences.
Democrat leaders in California today are so well ensconced in power, so very insulated from scrutiny or criticism, that not only is there corruption in their ranks – they are hardly moved by that corruption.
Indeed, for months California Democrats have had to deal with the fraud conviction of State Senator Roderick Wright. He was caught lying about his address so he could get elected in a certain district. He could face 8 years in prison. A month later, another Democrat Senator, Ronald Calderon, was indicted on serious public corruption charges.
You would think a responsible party would do all they could to distance themselves from such corrupt politicians. Despite Republican attempts to expel them from the Senate, however, on a party line vote Democrats blocked that effort.
Of course, the reason the Democrats did that was to protect their super-majority in the Senate, which allows them to pass tax legislation without a single Republican vote. In other words, having absolute power is more important to them than any semblance of integrity.
Then came along Democrat Senator Leland Yee from San Francisco. He has been indicted on charges that are almost too wild to fathom including attempting to facilitate arms sales to a terrorist group. The allegations read like a bad movie and perhaps some day there will be a movie. In the face of that horrific – and impossible to ignore – publicity, the Democrats finally took some action.
Faced with mounting pressure, the three corrupt State Senators were suspended. Of course, California being what it is – the three Senators will still be on the state payroll – because that is the law of the state.
It should be noted that when, State Senator Tony Strickland (now running for Congress) attempted to pass a law stripping state employees of their pensions if they commit a felony as party of their job, the majority Democrats blocked Strickland’s common sense bill. Three felonious senators later, however, the Democrats have decided they should undo the law allowing those Senators to keep their pay.
The fact remains, however, that the absence of significant scrutiny of the problems of this state – by the voters and major media alike – have made life far too comfortable for Democrats in the California legislature. Lord Acton wouldn’t be surprised. If California is to avoid getting worse, voters need to hold their officials accountable and understand just how badly one-party rule is serving them.
Cross-posted at Forbes.