Monday, December 4, 2017

The New California Democrat and America’s New Way Forward

I have a new article out with Peter Leyden, the third in our ongoing "California Is the Future" series. This one focuses on the emergence of the New California Democrat and how that could lead the way to a new era in US politics. Here's the beginning of the article:
A New California Democrat is rising, and it’s not Jerry Brown. To use a biblical analogy, the 79-year-old Brown is more like Moses, who got his people to the edge of the promised land — and then handed over leadership to the next generation, who are now pressing on and creating the land of milk and honey.
To be sure, the second coming of Jerry Brown as governor of California from 2011 through 2018 was essential in helping to lay the foundation for the next great progressive era in California politics. But that era is just now fully taking off, with a younger generation leading the way. The New California Democrat is epitomized by a set of leaders in their forties and fifties who blossomed as politicians in the 21st century, well after California’s conservative era (1980s) and its period of polarization and paralysis (1990s). They include:
Gavin Newsom, 50, the current lieutenant governor of California and the leading candidate to succeed Brown as governor. He was a two-term mayor of San Francisco, starting in 2003, at the beginning of the city’s tech transformation. Kamala Harris, 54, a current California U.S. senator who succeeded Barbara Boxer in 2016. Formerly the California attorney general, Harris is frequently mentioned as a possible candidate for U.S. president. Eric Garcetti, 46, the popular two-term mayor of Los Angeles, reelected with 81 percent of the vote; also contemplating a run for U.S. president. Tom Steyer,60, the billionaire former hedge fund manager turned environmental and political activist; currently pressing a national campaign to impeach President Trump. Kevin de León, 50, the president pro tempore of the California State Senate who is running for U.S. Senate against incumbent Democrat Dianne Feinstein.
The Old California Democrat is exemplified by the 84-year-old Feinstein, who has represented California in the U.S. Senate for 25 years, as well as 77-year-old Nancy Pelosi, a representative in the U.S. House for 30 years and currently the House minority leader. These Democrats rose to political leadership in the pre-2000 era of conservative politics, the tax revolt, and the populist anti-immigrant wave. They were shaped by the urgent need to defend against these reactionary political currents and uphold the basics of progressive governance and social tolerance. This they nobly did.
Unfortunately, both of these long-serving warhorses do not want to give up their positions, and they are distorting the natural succession of leadership. Feinstein is running in the 2018 election for yet another term, which has prompted the candidacy of de León, among others. And Pelosi has resisted pressure for a change in Democratic leadership in the U.S. House, which will only continue to mount. The national prominence of Old California Democrats like Feinstein and Pelosi — and even Brown — has obscured the emergence of what truly is a New California Democrat.
This new political animal can be quite radical in terms of national politics — calling for everything from impeaching Trump to establishing single-payer health care. The New California Democrats understand that a healthy society needs a strong government that’s well funded, and they don’t shy from raising public funds through progressive taxation. But the New California Democrats appreciate the market and the capabilities of entrepreneurial business. They are tech savvy and understand the transformative power of new technologies and the vibrancy of an economy built around them. They understand that to solve our many 21st-century challenges, we need business to come up with solutions that scale and that grow the economy for all.
In a national context, the New California Democrat would be recognizable as a progressive, the polar opposite of the conservatives controlling Washington, D.C., right now. They are rooted in similar values as 20th-century progressives, but they have let go of old ideas and solutions that constrained the solution space in the past. The New California Democrat is less ideological and more practical. In this sense, they are different from many Bernie Sanders Democrats. You might describe them as Practical Progressives, or Pro-Growth Progressives, or Entrepreneurial Progressives. A catchall label might be 21st-Century Progressives, since all the hallmarks that make them different have come since the year 2000. And many of the most distinguishing hallmarks will be determined in the next five to 10 years. For now, let’s just call them what they certainly are: New California Democrats.
Read the whole thing here on Medium (ungated). 

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