KAL-ee-for-nee-ah, as its current governor pronounces the name, more faithful to the original Spanish than any of his predecessors except perhaps Romualdo Pacheco, who served 10 months in 1875, is America's largest state, a nation-state really, with an economy larger than all but five nations. It is the site of the world's most advanced cutting-edge technology, yet it is a place with plenty of Third World neighborhoods and it greeted the 21st century with Third World-like rolling blackouts of electricity. Its growth has been awesome: The Census Bureau estimated that there were 35.9 million Californians in 2004, far ahead of second-place Texas's 22.5 million; metro Los Angeles had 17.3 million people, second only to metro New York's 20.7 million, and the San Francisco Bay area had 7.1 million, not so far behind Chicagoland's 9.4 million. The Central Valley and mountain counties had 6.7 million people; if this were a separate state it would rank 13th in population, yet it has only 19% of the population of California. San Diego County, with 2.9 million people the sixth largest county in the United States, contains only 8% of Californians. California owes this preeminence not to natural advantage but to human ingenuity. Los Angeles, with little in the way of natural resources and no natural harbor, is the nation's leading port and second-biggest manufacturer, as well as the world's entertainment center. The Bay area, which once lived by exporting food, is now the world's leader in computers and high tech. California has grown not because it had to but because people wanted it to. It has not grown without contradictions. California loves its physical environment, but also has the largest urban sprawl in the United States; it likes to think of itself as the America of the future, even as it watches the electricity flicker out; it likes to see itself as the political leader of the nation, but lives now with a president who did not come close to winning here and has a public sector that in important ways--in its public schools, fiscal condition, electricity regulation--has been deeply dysfunctional. California today is generally Democratic, well off to the left on cultural issues, secular more than religious. If it could imagine itself leading the nation when Bill Clinton was president, it is all too conscious that the nation is not following its lead now that George W. Bush has succeeded Clinton. And in recalling Governor Gray Davis and electing Arnold Schwarzenegger in his place, California in 2003 went some distance toward following the nation's example.
Most of all California has been a state that is always transforming itself, whose economy has been transformed several times over, whose population has been transformed by one group of newcomers after another and whose politics is periodically transformed with the suddenness of an earthquake. If other states have changed gradually on an analog scale over the years, California has changed sharply on a digital scale: this is quantum theory physics, not wave theory. So it has been from its American beginning. In 1848, when California passed from Mexico to the United States by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, this was an almost entirely empty land, inhabited by a few thousand Indians and Mexicans and by a few hundred American soldiers and men on the make. Then in 1849 gold was found in Sutter's Mill and thousands arrived in the Gold Rush; within months San Francisco became one of America's 25 largest cities. The big money was made not by the miners but by the grocers and dry goods merchants who provisioned them, like the Big Four--Crocker, Hopkins, Huntington, Stanford--who built the Central and Southern Pacific Railroads. The railroads sold off vast chunks of the Central Valley to large farming operations and enticed settlers with low fares to newly-platted suburbs in the Los Angeles Basin. Engineers built great aqueducts that stretched hundreds of miles, from the Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite to San Francisco and from the Owens River to Los Angeles, without which these metropolises with 24.4 million people could not exist. Early 20th century California was affluent and cultured, with great universities already, Berkeley and Stanford, and fine museums and libraries; it was America's window on the Pacific, alert to developments in China and Japan, Hawaii and the Philippines, eager to extend America's economic reach and military strength, but still, as Carey McWilliams wrote, an "island" separated from the rest of the country. Then in World War II California became one of the great defense industry states, building ships and airplanes by the thousands. Millions of Americans came here and millions stayed: The population rose from 7 million in 1940 to 17 million in 1963, when California passed New York and became the nation's most populous state.
California's future was planned by the heads of the big units of government and business--Franklin D. Roosevelt and Henry J. Kaiser, who built vast shipyards and steel and aluminum factories; Governor Earl Warren, who husbanded tax monies to build schools and freeways in the years after the war; Robert Sproul and Clark Kerr, who built the University of California into what Kerr called "the multiversity;" Governor Pat Brown, who completed the vast system of canals and aqueducts that brought water from the wet north to the thirsty south. But the real engine of growth was the little people who took advantage of this infrastructure and built a humming economy on it. When California's defense plants closed down after World War II, leaders imagined that hundreds of thousands would have to head back east. Instead, as urbanologist Jane Jacobs points out, one-eighth of all the new jobs in the nation in the late 1940s were created in metro Los Angeles. This small-scale growth, multiplied thousands of times over, made California the nation's largest state. And this infusion of new people transformed California politically. Before World War II this was a Republican state, with progressive leanings; political struggles took place inside the Republican Party. The in-rush of the G.I. generation, with its allegiance to the New Deal, the building for the first time here of auto and steel factories with unionized work forces, made California a two-party state. Warren's progressive Republicans still were dominant through the mid-1950s, but with the election of Democratic Governor Pat Brown in 1958, a group of talented liberal Democrats took over. Things turned sour in the mid-1960s, when student rebellions starting in Berkeley in 1964 and the Watts riot of 1965 upset the New Deal order. Californians responded by calling in a disillusioned New Dealer espousing the conformist cultural conservatism of the G.I. generation, Ronald Reagan, who presaged the course the nation would follow in the 1980s.
California veered off on a different path in the 1970s, electing Jerry Brown as governor, entranced for a time by his idiosyncratic version of Baby Boomer liberalism (though he was too old to be a Boomer himself), as the World War II generation started to die out and California received a new infusion of migrants, well-educated whites attracted to the state's groovy lifestyle and, little noticed at first, Mexicans and other Latin Americans looking for work. Voters in time soured on Brown's liberalism: They passed Proposition 13 in 1978, banning property tax increases in a state where rapidly rising housing values were the chief source of people's wealth; they decried his spraying of Medfly-infested crops with an overly-effective insecticide that peeled paint on houses; they ousted, after he left office, three of his Supreme Court nominees who had overturned death penalty verdicts and struck down tough-on-crime laws. Brown, with Californian creativity, has reinvented himself as the law-and-order mayor of Oakland and in 2006, at 68, is running for attorney general.
When Brown left Sacramento, politics and government more or less disappeared from TV stations' newscasts and voters' minds. In the 1980s, with Reagan as president and quiet Republican George Deukmejian as governor, California's defense industry boomed and Silicon Valley flowered off I-280 south of San Francisco. Public policy was mostly set by Willie Brown, speaker of the California Assembly from 1980 to 1995 and later mayor of San Francisco, and the Democratic legislature furthered the causes of their clients--teachers' unions, trial lawyers and the criminal defense bar. The response was government by referendum, usually a clumsy matter but sometimes effective, on criminal justice, aid to immigrants, racial quotas and preferences. This continued under Republican Pete Wilson, elected governor in 1990 and 1994. In these years California went through another transformation, as a series of natural disasters and a massive economic downturn drained the state of confidence and set it off in a new political direction. Defense industry cutbacks hit metropolitan Los Angeles hard, costing hundreds of thousands of jobs and sending housing values that had skyrocketed in the 1980s plummeting downward in the early 1990s. Television screens were absorbed by disasters both natural and manmade--from floods and earthquakes to riots and O.J. Simpson. Long proud of its efficient and incorruptible government, California saw it grow larger and increasingly dysfunctional, as documented by California's greatest reporter, Lou Cannon, in his book Official Negligence, the definitive story of the Rodney King beating, the Los Angeles riot and the trials that followed. In the 1990s California lost its trademark big businesses to mergers, so that today downtown Los Angeles has not a single Fortune 500 company headquarters and San Francisco is no longer headquarters of the Bank of America. In the first half of the 1990s, about 2 million Californians, mostly white and affluent, abandoned California for other western states or went even farther back east.
In the meantime, and in increasing numbers, immigrants keep arriving. The Census Bureau reported that California's Hispanic percentage rose from 26% in 1990 to 32% in 2000 and to an estimated 35% in 2003; the Asian percentage was 10% in 1990, 11% in 2000 and 12% in 2003. Since 1990, California has had a net outflow of people to the rest of the United States offset by an even larger inflow of people from other countries. The pace accelerated from 2000 to 2004, with a net out-migration domestically of 415,000 and a net in-migration of 1.2 million from other countries. Los Angeles County has become what New York City was 100 years ago, the greatest immigrant entry point in the United States. The 2000 Census recorded Los Angeles County's population of 9.5 million as 45% Hispanic, 10% Black and 12% Asian. Here you can find the world's largest numbers of Mexicans, Iranians, Samoans, Filipinos, Salvadorans, Armenians, Guatemalans, Koreans and Thais outside their native countries. And immigrants are not just concentrated in Los Angeles County; they have spread through almost all parts of California. Orange County was 31% Hispanic in 2000, San Bernardino County 39%, Fresno County in the Central Valley 44%. Santa Clara Valley, home of Silicon Valley, was 26% Asian in 2000, San Francisco 31%, Alameda and San Mateo Counties 20%, Orange County 14%.
These immigrants have come to California to participate in an economy that has been growing for most of the last 25 years. Twice during that period it has suffered severe shocks: sharp declines in defense spending shook the Los Angeles area in the early 1990s and the sudden collapse of the dot.com boom shook the San Francisco Bay area a decade later. But underneath the defense buildup and the tech boom, little noticed, and still continuing, California's small business economy has been growing and prospering, despite high taxes and heavy-handed regulation. But not as much as it might have; there is lots of evidence that businesses are fleeing to other Western states to escape California's highest-in-the-nation workmen's comp premiums, second-highest capital gains tax rate, third-highest personal income tax rate and fifth-highest minimum wage. In many ways this is a two-tier economy. California imports high-skill Americans and some foreigners--especially from Taiwan, China and India--and exports low-skill and retired Americans, and it imports very large numbers of low-skill Latinos and Asians to work in a rapidly growing service economy. This leaves a population with an income and education gap: California has more high-income people and more in poverty than anywhere else in the country; it has a higher than average percentage of people who have college degrees and people who haven't graduated from high school. But low-income people are not just hovering at the bottom; they are working their way up, or their children are. Latinos or Asians own four in ten small businesses in Los Angeles County. Statistics which show the lowest quintile of earners with barely increased incomes are misleading; today's lowest quintile of earners in California 10 years ago were living in some other country, making far less than they do now. California's population and economy are continuing to grow faster than the nation's.
How do these new Californians fit into, and affect, California politics? In the hard economic times of the early 1990s Governor Pete Wilson discovered that the state was spending billions on illegal immigrants and their children--for welfare (though Latinos in poverty apply for welfare much less than anyone else), for schools and for prison spaces. In 1994, uncertain of re-election against state Treasurer Kathleen Brown, Jerry Brown's sister, he supported Proposition 187, which denied non-emergency state government spending on illegal aliens and their children. In speeches Wilson was careful to differentiate between legal and illegal immigrants, and voters did too; at least one-third of Hispanic voters voted for 187, which passed by a wide margin. But campaign ads make a much greater impression than politicians' careful statements in a state where TV news coverage of politics and government is miniscule. Wilson's ad showing Mexicans running across the border, with the announcer proclaiming ominously, "They just keep coming," was taken by many as a slur, suggesting that all Latinos were more interested in welfare than work, which stung all the more because it is simply not true--Hispanic males have the highest work force participation rate of any measured group.
The result was that Latino turnout increased and Latinos increasingly turned to the Democratic Party. The Latino vote increased from 10% of the vote in 1994 to 14% in 1998, and Gray Davis beat Republican Dan Lungren among Hispanics by 78%-16%--a huge drop for Republicans, since Wilson got almost 40% of the Latino vote in 1990. In 2000 Hispanics again cast 14% of California's votes, and voted 68%-29% for Al Gore. But as memories of the 187 campaign dim--some current Latino voters were not even in California then--Latinos have produced smaller margins for Democrats. In 2002 Gray Davis carried them by 65%-24%; in October 2003, Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante carried them by only 21% over Arnold Schwarzenegger; NEP's exit poll showed John Kerry leading George W. Bush 63%-34% in 2004. That last number may understate Bush's support, since between 2000 and 2004 he gained 6% to 8% in seven congressional districts with large numbers of middle class Latinos.
Asian immigrants are even more of a political puzzle. In the early 1990s Asians cast Republican margins, perhaps out of recoil from the 1992 riot, after the establishment showed great solicitude for the needs of the rioters but little sympathy for the Korean shopkeepers who were their victims. Later in the decade, Asians seemed to move toward Democrats, as Bill Clinton and Al Gore (remember his visit to the Buddhist temple in Hacienda Heights) courted them assiduously. The 2000 exit polls were in conflict: VNS showed Asians for Gore by only 48%-47% while the Los Angeles Times exit poll showed them giving Gore a 63%-33% margin. The 2004 NEP poll, showing Kerry carrying Asians 66%-34%, tends to confirm the Times's numbers.
This Democratic trend among Latinos was one of two trends that moved California toward the Democrats in the 1990s; the other was the increasing prominence of cultural issues like abortion and gun control on which most affluent Californians in the big metropolitan areas have liberal views. Between 1980 and 1990 Republicans won seven of nine contests for president, senator and governor and nearly won another. From 1990 to 2002 Democrats won nine of ten such contests, the one exception being Wilson's reelection in 1994. Another key factor was Bill Clinton. After winning California in 1992 with 46% of the vote, Clinton understood that if he could lock up California's 54 electoral votes (it now has 55) he would be a long way toward being assured of re-election. He courted the state with dozens of appearances, with special attention to California issues and projects, with assiduous cultivation of Hollywood celebrities and Silicon Valley cybermillionaires. He carried the state 51%-38% in 1996. Clinton's combination of moderation on economic issues and liberalism on cultural issues was a perfect fit for a critical block of California voters, the affluent professionals and techies who support abortion rights and gun control and who are increasingly fearful of the prominence of Christian conservatives in the national and to some extent the state Republican party. Affluent Americans increasingly are not moored to any one locality, but can choose where they live, from an array of places with widely different cultural atmospheres. Those who espouse traditional values and have traditional religious views tend to pick metropolises like Atlanta, Dallas and Houston; those with liberation-minded values and secular or non-Christian religious attitudes tend to pick Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay area. The quantum of all these personal decisions over the last decade made Georgia and Texas more Republican and made California more Democratic.
The Democratic trend in California reached its peak in 1998 when Gray Davis was elected governor by a 58%-38% margin and in 2000 when Al Gore carried the state 53%-42% over George W. Bush, even though Bush spent $20 million on California media and Gore not a penny. In the same years, Democratic Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein were both reelected by far wider margins than six years before. In 2002, with Clinton far less prominent, the Democrats' fortunes ebbed a bit in California. Gray Davis, with low job ratings after the 2001 electricity crisis, was reelected by only a 47%-42% margin. Democrats won every statewide downballot office for the first time since 1882, but not by overwhelming margins: their candidates' percentages varied from 45% to 51%, while Republicans' percentages varied from 40% to 45%, and conservative firebrand Tom McClintock came within 17,000 votes of being elected controller.
In retrospect, these numbers presaged the huge turnaround in state politics that occurred in 2003, when Davis was recalled as governor and Arnold Schwarzenegger elected to replace him. Yet as late as June 2003 this scenario seemed exceedingly unlikely. He governed as a centrist, frequently vetoing or blocking measures sought by the left-leaning Democratic legislature. But he failed to hold back spending enough when the dot.com boom brought in huge gushers of revenue in 1998 and 1999, and he stuck to the flawed electricity deregulation plan adopted by a unanimous legislature and his Republican predecessor until it produced blackouts and huge costs to the state. Davis was no one's first choice for anything; his appeal was that he was centrist and competent. But when the fiscal and electricity crisis cast doubt on those essentials he was vulnerable. He won only 47% of the vote against the stumbling campaign of Bill Simon in 2002. And when the voters had an unexpected opportunity to vote him up or down, in October 2003, only 45% stuck with him and voted no on recall.
Davis represented an apotheosis of a political governing class which, thanks to its political competence and to California voters' faithfulness to a party which stood for liberal cultural values, had insulated itself largely from public control. The California legislature was the first in the nation to develop a large staff and to use the advantages of incumbency to protect against opposition; redistricting plans were adopted which reduced toward zero the chance of change in party control of seats. Davis capitalized on an apathetic electorate and an uninterested press to win elections by delivering the simple message that the opposition was unacceptable. But politicians who insulate themselves from public retaliation risk widespread revolt when things go sour. That is what happened in California in 2003.
The recall was a project of the right wing of the Republican party, which had been singularly unsuccessful since the retirement of Governor George Deukmejian in 1990. But the beneficiary was not the culturally conservative right-wingers but the culturally liberal Arnold Schwarzenegger. He was not without his own political credentials: he spent fall 2002 campaigning for his own Proposition 49, which called for after-school programs to keep kids busy in those hours from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. when so many of their parents are not home; it passed 57%-43%. The recall's original organizers had little money and their petition drive seemed doomed to failure in February 2003. But then Congressman Darrell Issa, a car alarm millionaire who had run and lost in the 1998 Senate primary, poured in money of his own. And discontent with Davis rose when he signed a bill (after vetoing others) authorizing driver's licenses for illegal aliens and unilaterally increased the license plate fee by 2% of vehicle value. Petition forms were circulated over the Internet; shoppers in mall parking lots, usually disdainful of petition gatherers, stood in line to sign; by July it was apparent that enough signatures would be obtained to force a recall election. California law provides that in a recall election voters also get to choose who will succeed to the office if the incumbent is recalled; a relatively low number of signatures is required, and only a plurality is needed to win. Conservative state Senator Tom McClintock plunged in on July 24 while Schwarzenegger kept his own counsel. He was committed, he said, to publicizing his latest movie, Terminator 3, in July 2003; he would decide later. On August 6, he proceeded to NBC's Burbank studio for a taping of The Tonight Show. The political advisers he had assembled, veterans of Pete Wilson's campaigns, believed he was not going to run. He surprised them and just about everyone else when he said he would. The next day, Issa dropped out; 1984 Los Angeles Olympics organizer Peter Ueberroth, a moderately well-known Republican, got in. California Democratic leaders, desperate to keep Davis in office and unable to characterize the pro-abortion rights, pro-gun control, pro-gay-rights Schwarzenegger as a far right conservative, pressured state officeholders not to put their names on the replacement ballot. The threat was that anyone who did would be blackballed in the 2006 primary contest to succeed Davis. The idea was to convince Democratic voters that the only way to maintain Democrats' hold on the governorship was to vote no on recall. But Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante ran anyway. A moderate from the Central Valley, Bustamante had few connections with the hyperpolitical leftish Latino politicians from Los Angeles County. But he adopted their policies, including driver's licenses for illegal aliens, and made mistakes. When Bustamante accepted contributions from Indian gambling tribes, Schwarzenegger cited it as evidence of Democrats' allegiance to special interests.
Polls are not a good guide to voters' feelings on unfamiliar issues and unanticipated contests, and the Los Angeles Times's polls in particular seemed, as in the past, to have an unduly Democratic sample. Despite the Times's Thursday-before-the-election stories about Schwarzenegger's gropings of women some years before, the recall was approved in October 2003 by 55% of voters and opposed by 45%--2% less than the percentage Davis had won 11 months before. On the replacement ballot Schwarzenegger won 49% of the vote to 32% for Bustamante and 14% for McClintock; a solid majority in this Democratic state had voted for a Republican. Turnout was actually up from 2002--from 7.5 million to 9.0 million--and Schwarzenegger received more votes in 2003, 4.2 million, than Davis had in 2002, 3.5 million. The Edison/Mitofsky exit poll showed 60% of whites, 46% of Latinos and 27% of blacks voting for recall. So did 24% of Democrats, 24% of liberals and 45% of union members. Voters with graduate degrees--the core of Democratic support along with blacks and Latinos--voted 55% to keep Davis in office; voters with less levels of education voted to throw him out. The San Francisco Bay area, which voted 57%-29% for Davis in 2002, voted 64%-36% against recall. But Los Angeles County, which voted 56%-35% for Davis, voted only 51%-49% against recall. The margins for recall were overwhelming in the rest of Southern California (69%-31%) and the rest of the state (64%-36%). Schwarzenegger led Bustamante among almost all segments of the electorate except blacks and Latinos; the latter voted only 52% for Bustamante and 31% for Schwarzenegger.
Schwarzenegger's election meant the end of insider politics in California and the beginning of plebiscitary politics. Television stations rushed to set up news bureaus in Sacramento and newspapers headlined state government news: Schwarzenegger is the first governor since Jerry Brown to get such news coverage. Taking advantage of it, he ordered an audit of state government and forced the legislature to repeal driver's licenses for illegal immigrants; he vetoed another version of the bill in September 2004. He forced changes in workmen's comp laws. He put on the March 2004 ballot two measures to allow the state to borrow money to meet budgetary needs and requiring a balanced budget. At first they languished in the polls, but Schwarzenegger campaigned for them vigorously and they passed with 63% and 71% of the vote. At the same time, 66% of voters rejected Democratic legislators' amendment to make it easier to raise taxes. In March 2004 he forced the legislature to accept his budget by using his star power and threatening to take the issue to the people. Schwarzenegger had his successes in November 2004 referenda as well. A measure he backed promising $3 billion for stem-cell research passed 59%-41%. A measure to relax the "three strikes and you're out" law, which had been leading in the polls, lost 53%-47% after Schwarzenegger campaigned against it. A measure to limit tort actions passed 59%-41%. Indian tribes' attempts to augment their casino businesses were rejected by 77% and 84% of the voters. A telephone tax for emergency medical funding was rejected by 72%. And a measure to mandate health insurance coverage for small businesses was rejected, though by only 51%-49%. California voters seemed to be in line with their new Republican governor.
In January 2005 Schwarzenegger went on the offensive, attacking the heart of the political system, by demanding action on four issues and, again, threatening to take them to the people in November 2005. They included a nonpartisan board of retired judges to redistrict California's congressional and legislative districts, automatic across-the-board spending cuts if spending grew faster than revenues, merit pay for teachers and defined contribution 401(k)-like pensions for state employees. Democrats responded with a push to put their own issues on the ballot, including a minimum wage increase. As Schwarzenegger raised their issues, his popularity declined from stratospheric to something less: his job approval hovered around 55%. He had become just another partisan figure, Democrats said. But a partisan figure with the kind of approval Pete Wilson had in his best years and that Ronald Reagan had during his governorship and presidency, when California seemed more a Republican than a Democratic state.
To be sure, in the 2004 presidential race California confirmed its Democratic status. John Kerry carried the state 54%-44%, a margin similar to Al Gore's 53%-42% in 2000. But there was a regional split. Outside the San Francisco Bay area, Bush cut the Democratic margin from 50%-45% in 2000 to 50%-49% in 2004. Bush made significant gains among Jews in Los Angeles County, among Latinos in the Los Angeles metro area and in the Central Valley and from increasing turnout in the Inland Empire of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties. But in the San Francisco Bay area, Democratic and left-wing enthusiasm produced a surge in turnout, even though the metro area population scarcely increased, and increased Gore's 64%-30% margin to Kerry's 69%-29%. No other major metro area in the country is nearly so Democratic; the closest is metro Washington, D.C., which voted 61%-38% for Kerry. Long-term population trends probably work for Republicans: between 2000 and 2004 population rose only 1% in the Bay Area and 4% in Los Angeles County, while it rose faster in more Republican areas, 7% in the rest of Southern California and 6% in the rest of the state. There is a divide here, a divide that runs within metropolitan areas, between heavily Democratic coastal California, full of the very rich and very poor, which is mostly built up and tends to support limits on local growth, and much more Republican interior California, the more middle class territory from the southern desert and Inland Empire east of Los Angeles County and running up the Central Valley and the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, which is growing much more rapidly.
California in the early 21st century is very much like New York in the early 20th century: the nation's largest state, its greatest immigrant magnet, with its most productive and creative economy. But it seems to lack two things which enabled New York over the first half of the 20th century to develop its full potential and become a national leader, to create an image of itself as an "empire state" in which every citizen could take pride. One is a coherent and competent civic and political elite. The other is a pattern to interweave the newcomers into the American fabric. Schwarzenegger can be seen as supplying what is missing on both counts. He has been an eminently successful entrepreneur in California's most visible business: he took an impressive physique, what are at best unorthodox good looks and a well-nigh incomprehensible accent and made himself, as he likes to recall, the number one box office movie star in Hollywood. And he has shown how a penniless immigrant can rise to any heights--well, almost any, until the Constitution is amended to allow immigrants to run for president--in the country and the state that he celebrates as the greatest in the world. He has cultivated a wide acquaintanceship among California's business elites and has drawn on a wide range of talent in all walks of life. He seems to be trying to institutionalize his success by restructuring state government and state politics. But to do that he depends, for the moment, on his personal appeal.
One other thing California lacks is rooted in the dominant laissez faire cultural style in California: letting people do pretty much anything they want (except smoke cigarettes). But tolerance can segue into indifference, and it does not necessarily translate into a sense of common identity and purpose. The California of Earl Warren, Pat Brown and Ronald Reagan had a kind of nationalism, a shared vision of itself, like the New York of Theodore Roosevelt, Al Smith, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Fiorello LaGuardia and Thomas Dewey. That has been missing in the California of today. Instead, articulate elites, focusing on changing demography, paint a vision of California as a "multicultural" polity, with a Third World majority (or approaching it) of "people of color." But the immigrants of today's California are no more a single united mass striving to overthrow the system than were the immigrants of New York 100 years ago; they came to the United States not to change this country but to become part of it. California businesses and political elites, like those in the United States generally, have responded to these newcomers with racial quotas and preferences, which cast doubt on their achievements, and with bilingual education, which consigns them to low-wage jobs. Policies designed to address the problems faced by blacks in the 1960s and 1970s are ill-suited to the needs of immigrants in the 1990s and 2000s. Schwarzenegger has not chosen to challenge these policies. But his own example points the other way, toward the lessons taught by the New York elites of a century ago: that immigrants can move forward to become leaders in America.