Reviews | How liberal is California? The answer matters to Democrats everywhere.

An iconic California divide contest is taking place in Los Angeles. Among a crowded field of mayoral candidates, the two most likely to advance provide a stark contrast: Rep. Karen Bass, a stalwart liberal embraced for both her politics and community organizing background, and billionaire developer Rick Caruso , which sounded the familiar refrain that it’s time for a businessman to clean up the duds of the political class. Bowing to the overwhelmingly Democratic electorate, Mr Caruso, best known for his high-end shopping malls, recently changed his registration from no party preference to Democratic – even though the race is non-partisan. For her part, Ms Bass has called for more police to be freed up for patrols (and to hire replacements for administrative duties) and has been reluctant to abolish cash bail, positions that have alarmed some of her natural allies.

Opinion debate
Will the Democrats face midterm annihilation?

It’s hard to know how much the pandemic, in addition to the Trump years, has muddied the political calculus. We have traffic jams in ports that rival those on the roads, restaurant tables where cars once parked, hotels that welcomed tourists and now house the homeless. Anger over closed schools and mask mandates sparked a record number of recalls (notably the landslide that recalled three members of the San Francisco school board, which both progressives and moderates agreed on). In far northern Shasta County, a group including members of a local militia took control of the oversight board by recalling a former Republican police chief who had not been sufficiently anti-mask or pro- weapons. A prominent Republican anti-Trump consultant called the vote “a canary in a coal mine” for his state party leadership.

If mask and vaccine mandates have become the litmus test for the far right, the left has chosen as the defining issue a much more complex — but seemingly unattainable — goal: single-payer health care. When a bill (with an estimated price tag of more than $300 billion a year) came through the Assembly, Progressives threatened to withhold party support from any Democrats who voted no. Far from the necessary yes votes, the sponsor, Ash Kalra of San Jose, a progressive Democrat, withdrew the bill rather than force a vote that could be used against his colleagues. He was pilloried as a traitor by militants.

The Working Families Party, which has lobbied for progressive priorities in the New York State Legislature, recently created a branch in California in hopes of having a similar influence and endorsing and supporting progressive democrats. The group’s state director, Jane Kim, a former San Francisco supervisor who lost the 2018 mayoral race to London’s moderate race and then helped Bernie Sanders win the California primary, argues that the he state’s electorate is more liberal than its elected officials, who are beholden to the influence of big corporate donors. Yet in the 2020 general election — with record turnout — voters rejected almost every ballot initiative that was the priority of progressives, choosing not to restore affirmative action, or impose higher taxes. high on commercial and industrial properties, nor to abolish the cash deposit, nor to extend rent control.

In the realm of criminal justice, where voters and legislators have consistently made incremental changes in recent years, growing concern about crime (some supported by data and some not) will soon test the commitment to move away from draconian sentences and mass incarceration. Conservative Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert is running for state attorney general on the slogan “Stop the chaos,” linking her opponent, incumbent Rob Bonta, to what she calls “attorneys thugs” like progressive Los Angeles prosecutors. and San Francisco, which are the target of recall campaigns.