Californians gave their 55 electoral votes to Barack Obama – of course; the networks called it the instant the Golden State’s polls closed. But more importantly, the state routinely derided as ungovernable1 has got its best chance of governance in generations.Proposition 30 passed. The tax increases thereby instituted will save public services, especially the public schools and universities, from dire immediate cuts, which is why the Regents of the University of California endorsed it.
Big money went to oppose 30 – big money from mysterious Arizona outfits and from the Munger siblings. But it passed anyway. Which means Jerry Brown, the Democratic governor who backed the proposition, has a little fight in him yet.
It also means the Democrats in the state legislature have a good argument to build a new budget for public services properly funded by taxes. After all, if the voters are willing to tax themselves, who are the legislators to say no? And they can finally do it – they have a supermajority.
More than one of every eight Americans lives in California. Its habits ought to be no afterthought. But it’s three hours behind and full of hippies, so the national pundit class scarcely attends to it. Today is not the day to hold up California as an example of how American political institutions fail; it’s a warning about what an electorate can do if political institutions refuse to function – hand power to the party that promises good policy.