Identity vs. Values

Los Angeles, and especially the 37th district, is extremely diverse.  My last job of eight years was owned by Byron Allen.  And my current position is in a bilingual company where the preponderance of my coworkers are Latino or Asian.  And I hate even using those terms.  Really, they’re mostly El Salvadoran or Vietnamese.

So I’m no stranger to the politics of cultural sensitivity.  The Democrats have had a monopoly on this issue in this district, and they indeed seem unassailable on it.  I’ve been jokingly advised to center my campaign in South Central.  And yet I think there’s cracks in this Democrat monolith.

Obama’s election to the presidency was based on what was called the “Obama Coalition.” It was a coalition based on specific racial and gender identities, and promise to those identities. While this was successful at the time, a coalition based on identity is problematic at best.

We saw the first such fraying of identity politics in the Prop 8 results here in California, setting marriage as only between a man and a woman. Nevermind that this was a blow to California’s status as a homogeneously liberal state.  The real interesting statistic was how minorities voted.  Specifically Blacks voted most predominantly in favor of the measure.

How could this be?  How could Blacks, who so consistently vote Democrat, have voted so decidedly against such a Democrat cause?  The Democrats would, under hushed tones, tell you it’s bigotry.  And nevermind that it totally tears apart their narrative – they would still be wrong.

The answer is Values.   And that’s where we need to hit.  The problem with identity politics is they will always keep division.  So long as you’re Black, or Latino, or Gay, you will always be that label.  More so, your label connects you with a specific partisan agenda.  Which only further fractures politics.

But no matter what a person’s heritage in this district, we have specific values we hold in common.  Values which the Democrats seem to have lost sight of.  Values like work ethic, respect for Law, fear of crime.  A desire to marry and bear children.

It will be hard to push this values based campaign.  It will require a serious ground game.  It will require hitting malls, events, public places, getting in people’s faces and challenging their loyalties.  But we’re not telling them anything they disagree with.  We’re only showing how much we as Republicans agree with them.  If we can put these ideas in people’s heads, I think we can radically transform this district.

The road to 2018


A Secular non-tea-party Republican has run a successful campaign!
Trump’s victory has made resounding ripples in our society. He forever changed the GOP, pushing its Tea Party and Evangelical wings to the sidelines.  Meanwhile, he made inroads into Black and Latino populations that have confounded the party for decades.

Trump’s victory is a blow to PC culture which might actually grant us a real discussion among each other as Americans. And I think that all peoples and races share some basic core values which make them natural Republicans. Issues like family, Law and Order, Work Ethic, Public Service.  It’s these issues Trump laid the groundwork for.

If we can build on this, and really push forward a new Republican agenda of enlightened classic liberalism, we could go into the 21st century making it the greatest one yet. And we can go into it with a consensus that really represents America.

Once again, California is a perfect starting point for this visionary future.

Meanwhile, the Democrats are still saddled by their militant wings, which are pulling the party ever more into irrelevance. One would think their base would see the error of their ways after Trump’s election, and drift away from identity politics and irresponsible populism. Instead, they are doubling down on their politics.

This left an opening for conservative Democrats like myself that gave Trump an open window. Trump effectively took over these wings, and now they are part of a GOP conversation. I want to be a part of this dynamic conversation they are having. The Democrats stopped having a conversation, and have slipped into a complacent machinery. I fear there is not much for them as a party at this point until their old growth burns off.

Where do we go now?

2018 marks a real opening for dark horse candidates who see Trump’s popular appeal build on that.  Conventional political wisdom would state my bid for the 37th district is a long shot at best. I’m a newcomer to the GOP, and I’m running against a four term Democratic incumbent in what now seems like a one-party state.

Yet Trump’s victory has blown open the entire political game in the USA. And I think this means changes in California too. Having a one party system has left us stagnating. We don’t so much elect Democrats as we coronate them. And Prop 14 of 2010 hasn’t even given us a chance to vote for a Republican in this past general election – we only vote for the top two Democrats, as they both outdid the top Republican candidate.

37th district primary results, 2016

I see this as an opening. Karen Bass won 180,000 votes in the 2016 primary, and her Democratic challenger won about 40,000 votes. The primaries were even more skewed – her Democratic rival only got 15,000 votes, and the Republican challenger got 13,000, eliminating him from the general election.  This means we only need 16,000 votes to make it to the general election in 2018. This in itself would be a major milestone, though I have no intention of stopping there.

First, though, we need to get on the ballot.  Based on the State of California’s 2014 election procedures, we need either 3000 signatures or a $1740 filing fee to get on the ballot.  These signatures had to be collected between December 27, 2013 and February 20, 2014, so we’re talking a 50 signature a day blitz.  It’s tempting and affordable to pay the $1740 filing fee and save us the trouble.  Signatures could get us more publicity and mandate, but could be more easily contested, and we could spend our time more wisely in other ventures.  I’d love to hear input on this.

Once we’re on the ballot, getting the 16,000 votes to get to the general election should be an achievable challenge.  The 37th district contains the Pico/Robertson district which has a major population of Jews. I can testify that most have been profoundly disappointed by Obama’s recent anti-Israel resolutions and are looking for a change. I intend to spend this year building up a base in this area where i already have roots.

By no means am I ignoring the rest of this diverse district. One of the unspoken stories of Trump’s winning bid is his inroads into Black and Latino voters, who went GOP to vote for him in record numbers. I think this is a sound rejection of Obama’s identity politics strategy, where he pulled together different races simply by virtue of their racial identity. I intend to make this a values election. I think by continuing on Trump’s message of law and order, jobs, immigration reform, and revitalizing cities, we can continue to make to make inroads into what are traditionally Democratic constituencies.

This will be the difference between simply making it to the general election, and winning it.