Good news for those who hate the west coast: after decades of steady growth, California saw its population drop some 0.46 percent in 2020, according to a new government study.
That might not seem like the hugest deal. But the news made some in the right-wing mediasphere positively giddy as they pounded out posts blaming the decline on an assortment of unlikely (alleged) ills, from “woke socialism” to critical race theory, that had allegedly come back to bite their proponents in the ass.
These right wingers might not win any awards for originality in headline writing. But they were slightly more imaginative in coming up with reasons for the decline.
The Washington Free Beacon shed some alligator tears over the “shocking exodus,” declaring, perhaps a little melodramatically, that “[c]oncerned citizens are fleeing the Newsom-Boudin axis of terror for good reasons.” The Beacon didn’t hesitate to blame embattled governor Gavin Newsom (and/or San Francisco district attorney Chesa Boudin) for most of the state’s current woes, from “crime and homelessness, unaffordable housing costs, exorbitant tax rates, and a botched response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Others on the right were a little less restrained in their criticism of California and many of its inhabitants.
On the American Thinker blog, Monica Showalter blamed both “wokester socialism and the high cost of living” for the decline. Her evidence? She talked to some people at a “going away” party for a friend who was abandoning California for South Carolina.
I just went to a farewell party last night in Lake Elsinore, California — a very multi-racial one, where nearly all of the attendees were black and Mexican. They were homeowners, industrious immigrants. Entrepreneurs. Cops. Military people. The street they were on, in a very pretty, newish neighborhood of McMansions with big yards and swimming pools, was loaded with “For Sale” signs.
Her friend wasn’t the only one contemplating an escape from California. And not because of high housing prices. Nope. They were just tired of all that Democrat wokeness.
They cited a feeling of non-representation in the one-party state run solely by Democrats. They felt shut out. They detested the state’s ever rising taxes and ever falling services. They loathed the rising crime and the war on cops.
Probably the biggest reason so many cited for leaving was strong desire not to expose their multi-racial kids to wokester education and Critical Race Theory.
Critical race theory — you can blame it for anything these days, apparently.
They said they didn’t want their kids to grow up to be victims full of hate for others. They very much liked that red states such as South Carolina and North Carolina and Texas and Florida are full of people who “have manners.”
Yes, Florida, known around the world for its well-behaved citizenry.
On FrontPageMag, meanwhile, Daniel Greenfield gets it half right, making the point that much of the loss stems not from an exodus of the hyperwealthy, fleeing high taxes, but rather from the departure of midde-class Californians.
The middle class provides political and economic stability and it’s vanishing from the state at rapid rates. What’s replacing it is an itinerant hipster class drawn to Big Tech and the entertainment industry, driven by radical politics, but with no commitment to the state.
This same hipster class wrecked New York City, before abandoning it in droves, and is busy wrecking its hubs in Portland and Seattle. Not to mention any other cities where it got a foothold …
California swapped a settled and more conservative population for a more itinerant population of millennial hipsters and immigrant laborers.
So what are the real reasons Californians are leaving? There’s no exodus of the rich; they’re actually more likely to be moving to California than leaving it. Its working and middle class people who’ve been leaving; they do mind the high cost of housing.
Beyond that, as Jill Cowan of the New York Times points out,
Much of the slowdown is the result of forces that have reshaped the United States more broadly, like a declining birthrate and the Trump administration’s policies discouraging or limiting immigration.
Demographers say that it was probably the coronavirus that tipped the state into population decline — and that once the pandemic has passed, there will be a rebound.
California has, after all, lost more than 60,000 people to COVID, Cowan notes.
When you actually ask those moving out why they’re doing it, Cowan says,
almost half of the adults who left California in the 2010s said they left primarily for jobs, and nearly a quarter said their primary reason for leaving was housing.
Too-expensive housing. Not enough jobs. A declining birth rate. A terrible worldwide pandemic. With the possible exception of the declining birth rate. none of these things are worth celebrating. Unless you’re a Republican who cares more about owning the libs than you do about the lives and livelihoods of your fellow Americans.
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