California

It's Not Just Trump. California Labor Unions Are Trying To Reverse the Outcome of an Election Too.

California Democrats and their labor union allies are embracing anti-democratic principles to thwart the will of the people.

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In his first inaugural address in January 1911, California's progressive Gov. Hiram Johnson detailed a far-reaching "people's reform program" that would help wrest control of the state's government from what his contemporaries called "The Octopus"—a reference to muckraker Frank Norris' 1901 novel about the outsized power of Southern Pacific Railroad.

As Norris explained, the Cyclopean sea monster was a "symbol of a vast power, huge, terrible, flinging the echo of its thunder over all the reaches of the valley, leaving blood and destruction in its path." Drawing heavily from that corporate-power theme, the new governor touted something that would define California politics for the next century: the initiative, recall, and referendum.

California's emerging experiment in direct democracy would "prevent the misuse of the power temporarily centralized in the Legislature," Johnson argued, noting that supporters of these reforms believed in the ability of the people to govern themselves. However opponents "may phrase their opposition, in reality (they) believe the people cannot be trusted."

Ironically, modern California's progressives have become increasingly hostile to the direct democracy concept, as evidenced by their repeated attempts to place limits on these voter initiatives. The reason has less to do with political ideology and more to do with raw political power.

Democrats exert ironclad control of the Legislature and don't like the Johnson era's checks on its power. For example, the state's Democratic-heavy electorate nevertheless took remarkably conservative positions on the statewide ballot initiatives during the Nov. 3 election—and gave lawmakers a comeuppance on some key issues.

We've seen these anti-democratic tendencies arise in recent days, which is ironic timing given the fracas in Washington, D.C. I've also been appalled at Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the results of a legitimate presidential election even as 60-plus courts, state legislatures, and federal agencies rebuke his claims. Apparently, California Democrats now share Trump's litigious approach: they support elections, but only if they yield the desired result.

For starters, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) announced last week a lawsuit challenging the results of Proposition 22, which exempted drivers for companies such as Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash from the ominous provisions of Assembly Bill 5. That's the "landmark" legislation that mostly bans companies from using contractors as their workforce.

The voters were unequivocal, given that the proposition passed with a nearly 59-percent "yes" vote. That result is not a huge surprise. The law obliterated moderate-income service jobs—and not just in the burgeoning gig economy. Because of the blowback from freelancers losing their livelihoods in the midst of a pandemic, the Legislature exempted 100 industries from this bad law's provisions.

In their wisdom, California voters added additional exemptions and they assured that the companies they've come to depend upon will continue to exist. Yet Democratic leaders are much less trusting in the intelligence of the people than their ideological forebear, Johnson.

"Prop. 22 not only created a permanent underclass of workers in California—it stripped the Legislature of its power to step in and improve the working conditions for … app-based workers," said Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), who authored A.B. 5. She's peeved that "corporations can use the initiative process to write their own laws with artificial barriers designed to block elected representatives from doing their jobs."

Ironies abound. I understand that Gonzalez doesn't like Proposition 22, but that's an issue that voters had a chance to consider. Furthermore, the unequivocal purpose of the initiative process—and I'd recommend that she spend some time studying California's political history—was to block elected representatives from doing their jobs.

Whatever their claims, such opponents simply don't trust the people, as Johnson understood. Certainly, SEIU and the opponents of this (or any) initiative have the right to challenge its constitutionality, just as Trump had the right to file his election-challenging lawsuits. That doesn't make it the right—or democratic—thing to do.

Gonzalez complains about the power of corporations to use the process, which is another irony, given that direct democracy targeted corporate power. Yet Democratic lawmakers have nothing to say about the modern-day robber barons who more commonly place initiatives before voters: public-sector unions. Note that the failed property tax hike measure (Proposition 15) was largely a union endeavor.

In another fit of hypocrisy, Democrats last week blasted the movement to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom. "This recall effort, which really ought to be called 'the California coup,' is being led by right-wing conspiracy theorists, white nationalists, anti-vaxxers, and groups who encourage violence on our democratic institutions," said California Democratic Party Chairman Rusty Hicks. He didn't provide evidence to back such inflammatory allegations.

Again, I'd refer Hicks and his Democratic cohorts to Johnson's inaugural words. He said the initiative, referendum, and recall are not panaceas, but they give voters "the power of action when desired, and they do place in the hands of the people the means by which they may protect themselves."

This column was first published in The Orange County Register.

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  2. “Apparently, California Democrats now share Trump’s litigious approach: they support elections, but only if they yield the desired result.”

    *cough* Prop 8 *cough*.

    1. CA labor unions still have their heads ringing from Janus

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    2. Before that, it was Prop 187 in 1994.
      59 percent of California voters approved it, banning undocumented immigrants from using the state’s major public services.
      Despite its wide margin of victory, the ballot measure never takes effect due to being thrown out by a federal judge.
      Now you know why California has the largest number of illegal aliens, all of whom are counted in the census and contribute to the number of House seats California represents.

  3. Recalls are led by political opponents?

    How else would it be?

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    2. The last effort to recall a governor was of “Pay to Play” Gray Davis. The joke about him was “He placed a bus fare box at the door to the governor’s office”. His pay to play access wasn’t enough to outrage the electorate, it was his incompetence in handling the 1999 rolling blackouts & bankruptcies of private electric power utilities that ended up with huge long increases in utility bills. He tapped a long term executive of the LA DWP to secure long term power contracts with ESCO’s. Gray Davis PANICED! The recall petition easily gathered enough valid voter signatures to call a special election. The question to recall easily passed & the vote for who to replace him was easily won by the Terminator. The Democrat party’s candidate was the Lt Governor who got smoked. This when there was another well known conservative state senator running. This candidate is now the most knowledgeable member of Congress on budget matters.

  4. “…For starters, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) announced last week a lawsuit challenging the results of Proposition 22…”

    Not to be out-done, California’s legislature will now try to trump the law by out-Trumping Trump.

  5. That headline is so similar to TDS headlines, I assume by intent. Since when is tyranny of the majority a noble thing to be defended from lawsuits? As much as I despise labor unions in general, and the California sycophancy which elevates their political power, to argue that they are wrong because they are trying to overturn a majority is about as anti-libertarian as you can get.

    Oliver Wendell Holmes: “If my fellow citizens want to go to Hell I will help them. It’s my job.”

    Robert Bork: “…allows majorities to rule in wide areas of life simply because they are majorities …”

    Steven Greenhut: “California Democrats and their labor union allies are embracing anti-democratic principles to thwart the will of the people.”

    No, fuck off, slaver. If you want to pretend to defend liberty, use some tool other than majority rule. Majority rule is better than single dictator rule, but not by much.

    1. I mean, yes, but the problem here is that legislatures are supposed to express the will of the people within bounds (those bounds being set by the rights of the people). When legislatures and their allies act to overturn the will of the people, they have definitionally ceased to function properly. (When the people, in this case, are defending their rights – that’s even more praise-worthy).

    2. What other tool would you have in mind? Dueling? What other way can the people decide things?

    3. Oh, I get it…liberty is good only when it’s so noble as to be a minority, especially small minority, opinion. It becomes tainted when the majority favors it. Libertarians know they’re the good guys because most people oppose them; if they don’t, there must be something wrong, right? Libertarians must never accept help from the majority!

  6. “We’ve seen these anti-democratic tendencies arise in recent days, which is ironic timing given the fracas in Washington, D.C. I’ve also been appalled at Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of a legitimate presidential election even as 60-plus courts, state legislatures, and federal agencies rebuke his claims. Apparently, California Democrats now share Trump’s litigious approach: they support elections, but only if they yield the desired result.”

    This paragraph is extraneous and consists of virtue-signaling to all of the “Orange man bad” adherents. A good editor would have struck it from your essay.

    1. Weird, huh. Trying to tar California Democrats withe the Trump brush.

      But they didn’t dare cut the paragraph, as the article is already shorter than average. Don’t want to make the nothing burger obvious. Usually Greenhut’s articles are decent, this one just seems like a last minute hurryup job.

    2. The vast majority of the rebuking was claims of standing saying he waited too long, with no mention of the pre election lawsuits saying no harm. Weird.

      1. I guess we don’t have to ask where people are getting their news. Let’s see, which shithole crank white supremacist website is still peddling the Trump won line even as QAnon itself has its cult crisis moment… Give me a hint, how many Pulitzer prizes does it have?

        1. A real law firm that does podcasts on law and court cases.

  7. “ Whatever their claims, such opponents simply don’t trust the people, as Johnson understood.”

    Perhaps. Another possibility is that they really just don’t care what the people want.

    1. California is a one-party state, with Democrats in charge at all levels of state government, including the courts. The primary monetary support for the party comes from unions, chief among them SEIU and the California Teachers’ Association.
      All unions wish to perpetuate their own power by blocking any competition through legislative and legal actions. It is understood in the LA Times, SF Chronicle, and Sacramento Bee that it is big money that thwarts the will of the people (the legislators bought by the unions) but consider the proposition to reinstate racial and sexual preferences. The proposition supporters outspent the opposition 11 to one but it failed anyway.
      All the big newspapers and TV stations were anti-Trump for four years and he lost big. That same attention was not placed on any proposition, the anti-orange man push having consumed all the time and print, so voters were forced to actually consider each individually. That explains the seemingly inconsistent voting.

      1. The lawyers, General. Don’t forget the lawyers.

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  8. Stupid citizens NEVER vote the correct way!

  9. California is turning into the EU. You didn’t vote correctly do it again

    1. More voting means more democracy, right?

  10. For example, the state’s Democratic-heavy electorate nevertheless took remarkably conservative positions on the statewide ballot initiatives during the Nov. 3 election—and gave lawmakers a comeuppance on some key issues.

    I suppose in the sense that not taking is giving, declining an invitation to become even more of a socialist shithole than California already is might be seen as a “conservative position” but, hard as I may squint, I really can’t see that the voters are reversing the tide so much as simply refusing to let it go any further.

    1. It’s always been the case with the majority of progressives. They like all these ideas when the cost behind them is hidden. A lot of ballot initiatives that I’ve seen (admittedly not in California) are phrased something like “can we raise taxes to fund X”.

      Turns out when you tell them they’re gonna have to pay for their utopia they don’t want it anymore.

  11. California Democrats and their labor union allies are embracing anti-democratic principles to thwart the will of the people.

    And I thought we were libertarians here.

    1. There is no ‘will of the people’ because there is no ‘the people’. There are 300 million plus individuals.

    2. If we’re going to say the ‘will of the people’ is what 51% of the population wants – well, we’ve always been undemocratic and were founded on undemocracy. We’ve always had constraints on what the majority can do in order to protect the minority – that’s the very opposite of democracy.

    1. If we voted out the 13th amendment and legalized chattel slavery would we be expected to just lie down and take it because its ‘democracy in action’? Or would you and others not take to the courts to try to overturn it legally?

      There are reasons to oppose the unions here. That they’re ‘trying to overturn an election result’ is not one of them.

      1. No, you’d have to shootpoison them. A court couldn’t overrule a Constitutional amendment on anything but procedural grounds. If the votes were counted correctly and all the procedures were followed, there’d be no legal remedy, only extralegal ones. If that many people really wanted slavery back, what else could you do but exterminate enough people that you’d win the next vote? I mean, come on, slavery, that’s pretty far gone! People who are for that wouldn’t let you do anything but sneak up on them and murder them. Preferably by poisoning, that’s how you could dispose of the numbers you’d need to without getting caught.

    2. You’re absolutely right of course.
      However, one of the arguments non-libetarians use to convince each other they’re in the right is that it’s the “will of the people” and it’s worth pointing out that’s a lie, even on their own terms.

      1. But it’s a logical leap to go from there to the idea that whatever the will of the people is is something wrong. On average they have as much chance of being right as being wrong, there being 2 sides to every issue.

    3. The will of the people merely turns back the clock to what the law was a few years ago, and what the law is in most states.

      And far from being pro-corporation, it’s neutral at most, if not anti-corporation. Forcing people to be employees of corporations with all the work schedules and regulations they have to confirm to when they are corporate employees is hardly anti-corporation.

      Unions love big corporations because together they have more control. Unions hate small businesses and self employed,much more than they hate corporations, because they can’t organize them.

  12. CA needed more ballot printers… They must-of all been moved to the swing states on Nov 4th.

    Can you imagine these CA-Democrats and Union members uproar if A.B. 5. got a sudden 90% NO-Vote on Nov 4th at 3AM (spiking the charts like a national level run on the banks) and entirely out-of ordinary tally-counts to the extent of 600,000 votes…..

    I wonder if Uber and Lyft would’ve worked together to CANCEL the CA-Democrats & Union while the mainstream media would compulsively denounce their ‘Conspiracy Theories’ and defame any dissent and label it a threat to CA’s Democracy and mobilize their Uber & Lyft troops.

    Democrats, “BUT those *POWERFUL* companies have too much power!”…… It’s almost like an Elephant complaining about a mouse for squeaking.

  13. When I opposed a local tax increase – was I also undemocratic? Should I have just sat there and took what ‘the will of the people’ chose to serve me?

    Would not accepting the will of the people also undermine allowing in refugees? After all – it was the ‘will of the people’ that gays, political dissidents, etc were to face persecution. Or do you think the average Iranian isn’t fine with throwing people off of tall buildings?

  14. “This recall effort, which really ought to be called ‘the California coup,’ is being led by right-wing conspiracy theorists, white nationalists, anti-vaxxers, and groups who encourage violence on our democratic institutions,”

    Among the last group; BLM, antifa, at all.
    So they are now right wing white nationalists like WaPo says?

  15. This is ridiculous. Trump and allies engaged in a multi-month long effort to promote the lie that the election was fraudulent. This is a challenge on the legality of a ballot initiative, which happens all the time, they are commonly pushed by outside interests and do not always confirm to state law. Not even in the same ball park.

    The Big Lie is an evil that stands alone in American history.

    1. Trump and allies engaged in a multi-month long effort to promote the lie that the election was fraudulent.

      I guess that’s just how it goes now. Similarly, many people spent years trying to promote the idea that the 2016 election was somehow illegitimate for various reasons. I’m not saying that makes it OK. But it’s not exactly unprecedented. I believe a number of Democrats in congress also voted against certifying the EC vote for Trump.
      People should believe what they want about any of it, but it would be nice if they could at least remember history from more than 6 months ago.

      1. You are wrong on that because there was no vote against certifying the EC vote for Trump because no Senator would sign on. The challenge was rejected immediately and the certification proceeded without a hitch or coup.

        1. And Trump votes didn’t show a 90% favor in the middle of the night over a 600,000-count ONLY run.

          1. Trump and the Rs spent months disparaging mail in votes, so it was expected that the mail in votes from already heavy D areas would go heavily D. Anything different would have been weird.

            1. …And somehow 48% of the those 90% of Democrats that voted by mail SOMEHOW voted in person too…. So what you’re really pretending to say is there was 150% Democratic Votes per Democrat.

              The fact that you’ve been duped by that non-sense excuse is baffling.

    2. I followed the links, but nowhere was a legal basis stated for challenging the ballot initiative or its results. On the other hand, the basis for challenging the presidential election was fraud.

    3. You mean it stands alone in American history until such time as the rightwing media makes it equivalent in horror to one of Kamala Harris’s fashion choices. It’s only a matter of time.

      Why can’t Democrats stop being so shrill about this after all these weeks? Isn’t the real problem how Josh Hawley lost a book deal?

    4. Yes, “if you like your health care plan, you can keep it” is the lie of the century so far.

      No one can prove that the election was fraudulently won.

      But no one can prove that it was fairly won, either.

      We simply do not have an auditable system; we must install one. Anyone who thinks we shouldn’t install a 100% auditable system can only have nefarious intentions.

      1. We can prove it was fairly won. The electoral college voted on national TV.

      2. This

    5. It is an undeniable fact that 4 states held elections on Nov 4th in violation of their own election laws. By definition that makes those 4 states elections illegal and thus should have been thrown out.

  16. You could have a better article if you brought up Cori Bush and the 100 Democrats that signed on to her petition to remove 100 representatives and a half dozen senators.

    1. Local news.

  17. Story has absolutely nothing to do with Trump, but Greenhut couldn’t resist taking a jab anyway.
    What an asshole!

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  20. “”Prop. 22 not only created a permanent underclass of workers in California—it stripped the Legislature of its power to step in and improve the working conditions for … app-based workers,” I just guffawed out loud when I read this. How stupid do they think we are? Or how stupid are they?

    1. You have to be a special kind of stupid to be in the California legislature.

      1. they are special. they got all kinds of awards for participation, college degrees in things ending in “studies”, stars on their homework for turning it in on time. their mom’s told them all the time they were special. now they have the confidence born of not being well educated or forced to think and are hard at work in sacramento. the fun part is that the rest of the nation is about to get “california’d”. welcome to the future. yes, we are fucked

  21. yeah good thing no one tried to reverse the outcome of the 2016 election by planting DNC-funded conspiracy theories at the FBI so they could try to frame a sitting President for treason

    b/c that would have been crazy

    1. At least those crazy conspiracy theories were quickly debunked by the MSM and all the FBI folks who knew where the information came from. Otherwise we might have wasted millions of dollars and seriously polarized the country.

      1. yeah, it was close there for a few minutes. good thing…

  22. Lyft needs to get some crap from everyone. They are clearly racist.

    https://www.13abc.com/2021/01/13/cleveland-lyft-driver-fired-for-admitting-to-firing-legally-owned-gun-during-attempted-carjacking/

    CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) – A Lyft driver has been fired by the ridesharing service after she admitted to firing her legally-owned and licensed gun during an attempted carjacking.
    ….
    “I had to fight with these two men. I had one choking me from the back,” Norman told 19 News.
    Norman said the other passenger, breaking Lyft’s COVID-19 protocol, insisted on sitting in the front seat.
    She said he started punching her in the face as the man in the backseat choked her.
    She was driving a rental car and refused to back down.
    “They didn’t know I was going to fight back,” she said.
    Norman told 19 News she then grabbed her gun from the center console and started shooting.

    The two men fled on foot, leaving behind the cell phone they stole from her.
    It’s unclear if they were wounded.
    Norman drove to the 5th district police station and reported the incident.

    Thankful she’s okay, Norman is frustrated that her supplemental income has been taken away by Lyft, which has a zero-tolerance policy for drivers carrying weapons — even if they’re legally carried.

    “Our “No Weapons” policy applies when you are doing business as a representative of Lyft, which includes times that you are driving for Lyft, as well as times that you are visiting a Lyft Hub.

    This means that even in places where it is legal to carry a weapon, we ask that you do not carry a weapon on any Lyft property.”
    Lyft.com

    1. I’m sure her attitude is take this job and shove it, if they expect her to just roll over when she’s being assaulted and robbed.

  23. Direct democracy is bad because the world is too complex for normal working citizens to be able to competently judge every issue. And as we have seen, it is no less susceptible to influence from powerful private interest than a legislature is.

    But you have to be clear-minded on your principles here. Direct democracy being impractical doesn’t automatically mean that abominations like the electoral college are useful. And it certainly doesn’t mean you get your way all the time no matter how few people agree with you, because you’re just so right. I feel that last problem needs to be cleared by libertarians before they move on to more advanced concepts like when referenda are and are not useful aspects of a system of government.

    1. You would prefer a Peoples’ Republic rather than a United States I see. Never forget that we are a group of STATES, each with significant autonomy. And that was the key compromise that made the USA possible, and still does today. The federal government is only given authority for specific items that cannot be handled at the state or local level or which transcend statehood, like the rights spelled out in the BoR. The 10th Amendment is the most abused part of our Constitution; it’s time for the states to stand up to DC.
      The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

      Reducing the authority of the central government would be the most beneficial thing that could be done to heal the rift in this country. One size fits all is oppression of the many by the few.

      1. That doesn’t really address my point, but that’s OK.

        I think it makes a lot of sense for local issues to be handled by local jurisdictions. Skin in the game, etc. I also think there are many more issues that cross state lines than you may be willing to admit to.

        At any rate, the system of government invented by 18th century aristocrats who not only owned slaves, but who designed that system of government to give extra power to slaveowners, is of little more than historical interest to me.

    2. I get it. You’re smarter than most. Not buying it. It’s much harder to bribe half the citizenry to vote for something than 100 legislatures. The real problem is government at all levels have grown too big with more power than We The People ever granted them. Reduce the government to simply governing and things would be much better.

      P.S. Your statement about the electoral college belies your high self esteem.

  24. “People’s reform program”.

    Yeah, that doesn’t sound ominous. At all.

  25. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Friday was asked if Biden has a comment on the ongoing Antifa violence that erupted in Portland and Seattle on inauguration day.

    Psaki:

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  26. we gave ms. gonzales’s “big idea” a good hard look and decided she was wrong and then went out and shit on her “big idea”. mercilessly. 59% is a pretty brutal shitting. the only problem i have with the prop was that it did not go far enough. now that the tech co.s have their carve out the rest of the state is left to watch as companies act to replace workers with automation and improved processes. really, all it does is speed up the process. as always the working class gets buttfucked by the dems

  27. “The reason has less to do with political ideology and more to do with raw political power.”

    And economic power, too. While each marginal unit may be small the total of the capital idled by these types of assaults on the “sharing economy” and other small businesses, restrictions on home based businesses and other residential and commercial shared uses being a pet peeve, is immense and costs us all in higher prices and reduced growth.

  28. I love that California has the proposition process, and know that many other states also have a similar process. I wish we had it on a federal level. It would have to be done like an electoral college vote to be fair. The California Propositions are in every election, and keep a lot of voters, myself included, motivated to vote every election. I vote no a lot. Lots of bonds come up every year.
    I know people complain that often the state propositions are poorly written, and often they are. And some are nuts, like the plan last year to split California into multiple states—not duh, the Republican Party and other states would never vote for California to have more political power. There is always somebody complaining, and since there are more Democrats, it is usually a Democrat but not always. Prop 13, which was passed when I was a kid, was vilified by the teachers unions, but is totally necessary because of how fast and high property values can rise here. Prior 8, which was really an anti gay measure, mean spirited measure, was passed a decade ago, but was so poorly written it got thrown out as unconstitutional. Doesn’t mean it didn’t have the right to be voted on though.

  29. “The reason has less to do with political ideology and more to do with raw political power.”

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