In years past, California used to be reliably Republican. After all, it’s the state that launched the career of Ronald Reagan.
California often sent GOP Senators to Washington, it elected a string of Republican governors, and the state even had Republican majorities in both houses of the Sacramento legislature as late as the 1990s.
Not coincidentally, California was a place of great innovation during the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s. Real estate boomed, and people minted money. Meanwhile, the Republicans in power believed the good times would never end. But they did… and California became as reliably Democrat as it had been Republican.
Amazingly, I now see a similar trend taking place today in one of the nation’s most Republican states: Texas.
In fact, I believe that because of Obama’s policies, Texas will soon be painted as blue as California.
A Generation of Change
That seems like a bold statement… but let me explain.
During times of great economic growth and expansion, an economy often begins to experience labor shortages. In California, labor shortages became endemic, particularly for farmers.
The state has a huge agricultural sector, and eventually, to keep the crops coming out of the fields, farmers were forced to look abroad for laborers.
Since Mexico’s economy wasn’t doing so great, it made practical sense for an unemployed Mexican to cross the border to find work in California. Thus, the remittance economy was born. Heads of households from Mexico would cross the border, find work, and send money home to the family.
After a while, though, men want to be with their wives and children. So, once a beachhead was established, the whole family often crossed over so everyone could be reunited.
Then immigration advocates took it up a notch.
They helped push the Simpson-Mazzoli Act, which was signed by President Reagan on November 6, 1986. The act, which was supposed to secure the border while also granting amnesty, completely reformed immigration by legalizing immigrants who had entered the United States before January 1, 1982.
These immigrants had to have resided here continuously, and they also had to pay a fine along with any unpaid back taxes. Finally, they were required to prove that they weren’t convicted criminals.
The legislation was judged a huge success, but it also permanently changed the voting patterns in California. The legalized immigrants slowly became U.S. citizens and began voting in earnest by the 1990s. Eventually, their children joined the voter rolls, as well.
Immigrant groups that have come to our shores have typically voted for the Democratic Party. This was true of both the Irish and Italian immigrants of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and it’s true of Hispanics today.
It’s no surprise, then, that California is as Democratic today as it was once Republican. The Hispanic voting block is a key group that keeps the Democrats in power, even though it mostly has Republican Ronald Reagan to thank for reforming immigration.
Finally, by understanding what happened in California, you can see what Barack Obama is trying to do to Texas today.
Comprehensive immigration reform could turn Texas into a Democratic state, and Obama and his strategists know that, without Texas, the Republican Party won’t be able to win the presidency for a generation.
If Barack Obama gets his way and an immigration amnesty passes in Congress, then expect America to swing hard left for at least the next 30 years. Texas will see the first – and most dramatic – changes, but I expect Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and others will swing hard left, too.
Your eyes on the Hill,