This weekend, the California Republican Party is holding its convention, at a time its main challenge is not to become irrelevant to the state’s future.
Last year, California’s voters did not elect any Republicans for public office at the state level. They also voted in favor of an initiative that removed the requirement of a legislative supermajority to approve budgets, eliminating one of the resources the minority in Sacramento used the most. Meaning, the GOP has lost popularity among Californians.
The gap in voter registration rates favors the Democrats by 13%. During elections, among independents, the Democrats continue to gain ground, while the Republicans have been nominating moderates such as Arnold Schwarzenegger or Meg Whitman, who are then scorned by the party base for not being conservative enough.
Their obsession with social issues like abortion and gay marriage has distanced California’s Republicans from the main concerns of voters. The intransigence they showed by refusing to increase taxes in the middle of budget cuts has not earned them sympathies. Also, Latinos have grown to dislike them because of their recalcitrant positions on undocumented immigrants.
It is unfortunate that the GOP is excluding itself in practice from the political debate. We think having political parties compete to win over the voters is healthy, but their positions have isolated them, as election results show.
The party’s convention in Burlingame is an opportunity for self-criticism, for redefining strategies and messages. However, the meeting will probably be used to reaffirm the current direction and defend the extremism that leads nowhere.