Cowen on the Cocoonifornia Recall

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

Tyler Cowen offers what I think is a realistic best-case scenario for what a Larry Elder victory in this month's California recall election would mean:

California, Through the Eyes of Non-Californians (Image by David Clode, via Unsplash, license.)
One of California's biggest problems, especially in its wealthier and more influential parts, is the degree of attachment to symbolic politics and posturing over substance.


Most of the rest of the country knows this is all crazy, and many Californians do, too. But they don't seem to understand how damaging all the silly posturing can be.

While this is happening, California is being devastated by wildfires, and NIMBYism and the cost of living are out of control. Middle-class residents are leaving the state, poverty problems are perhaps the most serious in the country, and work from home is endangering the traditional revenue sources from employment at the big tech companies. Ezra Klein, co-founder of the Vox website, a columnist for the New York Times and hardly a right-winger, described the current California predicament as a failure of progressive governance.

If Californians had a governor whom people found to be their exact opposite on rhetoric and expressive attachments, they would be forced to wake up and realize that ... actually, not very much had changed on the ground. That might nudge some California voters into seeing the emptiness of rhetorical gestures, and perhaps they would instead focus on the actual substance of governing. [link in original]
Cowen goes on to note, as I have, that the victory could help revitalize two-party politics in the state, as well.

I agree overall with Cowen, except that I think California's problems are deeper than (and explain) its tendency to adopt symbolic political measures. But I do think it would give many there both a peek out of their own cocoon to see that a Republican in charge wouldn't be the end of the world -- and a look in the mirror: Perhaps it would become easier for more of them to see the connection between the policies they favor and the problems they are experiencing as a result.

-- CAV

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