I have lived in a few different places around our great nation. I was born in Texas, where I lived until I realized I was allowed to leave.1 Then, I fled to Las Vegas. Las Vegas was amazing for my career; so amazing, in fact, it got me promoted and relocated to Northern California. I lived in the Bay Area for four years before life took me eastward to the DC area, where I am today.
California was—hands down—my favorite place I’ve ever lived. Which is why I never understand conservative America’s obsession with using California as the proxy for all things terrible. If you ask the average deplorable, they’ll tell you that California is just one big liberal, hyper-politically-correct, Marxist brunch, complete with bottomless mimosas, hosted by a drag queen version of Nancy Pelosi named, incidentally, Fancy P. Losi.
To be fair, I would probably enjoy such a brunch. So maybe that explains it thoroughly. Blog over. Fin.
No, damn it! NOT “blog over.” I will analyze this question to death even if no one actually ever asked it. That’s my duty as a blogger. And possibly as an American. But probably just as a blogger.
I see the issue pop up all the time.
Ted Cruz threatens that if Beto O’Rourke wins their Senate race, Texas will turn into California. Politicians routinely pander to crowds of extras from Deliverance, disparaging the Golden State to garner raucous applause from people who’ve literally never left Mississippi. The President of All Fifty United States, Which Includes California At Last Check, tweets all the damn time about what a festering shithole it is.
While California provides a distant, easy-to-mock effigy to burn, the facts tell a hella different story. The United States would be light years ahead of where it is today if it could borrow a tenth of California’s ingenuity, spirit, forward-thinking, and good fortune. Of course, if you’re elbow deep in the shiny new nacho cheese fountain at the Golden Corral in Fucklesburg, West Virginia2, you probably (a) don’t read my blog, and (b) won’t believe anything that challenges John Denver’s ill-advised assertion that your state is “Almost Heaven.”The United States would be light years ahead of where it is today if it could borrow a tenth of California’s ingenuity, spirit, forward-thinking, and good fortune. Click To Tweet
Now, does that mean Cali is perfect? Oh hell no. That’s not how correlation, causation, argument, logic, or anything works, Cletus. Have another dip in le font d’nacheaux and calm le fuck down.
But for all y’all Cletii in the states that rank 35-50 in everything that can be ranked, sit down and read as I tell you exactly why you’re wrong when you talk shit about California.
1. California Pulls Its Weight, And A Big Part Of Yours, Too.
California is the fifth largest economy in the world. THE WHOLE WORLD, DAMMIT.
Let me help you wrap your head around that. If you take California out of the United States, the US would still have the #1 economy in the world in terms of production. USA! USA! USA!
After that, there are the nations of China, Japan, Germany…and then the STATE of California. California outranks some pretty heavy hitters in the world, like the United Kingdom, India, and France, for example.
Yeah, Sacramento runs a bigger economy than LONDON. God Save Jerry Brown.
If you want to cobble together a coalition of states to contribute more GDP to the United States economy, you’d have to round up the GDPs of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and West Virginia.
That’s right: You’d have to add up 14 states to equal the fiber in just one bowl of Total.
Of course, California is a huge state. Geographically, it stretches all the way from the south part to the north part. Crazy! And by recent estimates, California has over 39 million residents. That’s roughly 12% of the entire US population, brah.
By any measure, it should have a large economy; after all, it’s a sizable chunk of a massive economy.
Well, before you think you found an obvious explanation there, Cletus, allow me to quote the late California crooner Nathaniel Hale, known professionally as Nate Dogg: “Hold up.”
You should note: (a) I’m a professional primrose path leader-downer (and you’re an easy mark, as evidenced by your idiotic voting record), and (b) the 14 states listed above that collectively barely eke out a few billion bucks more than California are home to 55 million people.
That is an astounding 16 million more people than California. That’s how many extra people it takes you to produce the same amount of money as California produces in any given year.
Y’all yokels need to step up your game, especially if you’re going to, “keep talking that trash,” as the late Californian Eric “Eazy-E” Wright once lamented. It would be a shame if Californians, legit as they are, were left with no options but to pull your collective card.
2. California Is A Blue Giant That Stays Out Of Your Business (Unintentionally).
Of course, the Constitution of the United States is not concerned with economic production, at least not when it comes to the functions of representative democracy. It’s also not concerned with productivity, stewardship of natural resources, relative attractiveness of people, number of teeth per capita, or any of that mumbo jumbo. Thus, although California contributes a disproportionate amount of resident attractiveness and GDP, the state has a Constitutionally guaranteed disproportionately minimal voice in national politics.
California has two senators in the United States Senate, as does each and every state in the United States. The “two per state” rule operates irrespective of population as a check on the power of the population-based House of Representatives.Although California contributes a disproportionate amount of resident attractiveness and GDP, the state has a Constitutionally guaranteed disproportionately minimal voice in national politics. Click To Tweet
In practical terms, it means that in the upper house of our national legislature, California (population: 39,536,653) has the exact same voting power as North Dakota (population: 755,393), even though California’s senators represent 52 times as many people.
Stated differently, the vote of each North Dakotan matters 52 times as much in the United States Senate as the vote of each Californian, oh you betcha!
Now, it goes without saying: most of the folks who talk smack about California are, of course, giant fucking dumbasses. Also, they are Republicans, and while there’s a strong overlap between those two cohorts, they are surprisingly separate demographic categories.
But with the partisan divide so prevalent in modern America, it’s worthwhile to examine California’s voice specifically as a Democratic stronghold in national politics. After all, if Ted Cruz is worried that Texas could become “like California,” it’s helpful to understand exactly what that means. And we need to know what it means from more illuminating sources than a poor man’s version of a grown-up, less charismatic Canadian Eddie Munster’s perspective. Seriously, the fact that his own wife hasn’t smothered his smarmy, condescending face with a decorative pillow is a testament to her future place in heaven.
So, let’s look at it from the good ol’ red and blue of it all. I mean the California vs. the rest of the country part, not the “smother Ted Cruz with a decorative pillow” part:
If you add up the senators from the 14 aforementioned states, you’d have 28 senators versus Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Kamala Harris (D-CA).
Of those 28 senators, there are four Democrats and twenty-four Republicans. In the Senate, for everything you hate about California’s liberal politics, your side’s voice (in just these 14 states) is six times as loud in opposition. If you’re so worried about “becoming California,” perhaps you should pay attention to what that statement really means: being totally marginalized in national politics.
What about the House of Representatives? California is a huge state. They get a big say in the lower house! Funny you should ask about that, rhetorical device I just created for this argument.
First, and contrary to what people who’ve literally never set foot in the Golden State think, California is diverse in every possible way. That includes preferences on smoking cannabis versus consuming it via edibles. And also, politics.
The entire Central Valley of California (think cities like Fresno, Bakersfield, Modesto, Stockton, Redding, etc.) is dominated by agriculture, and as such, leans solidly Republican.
At the risk of getting all Steve Kornacki on ya, follow along:
The California delegation to the House is 53 U.S. Representatives, of which 39 are Democrats, but 14 are Republicans. There are, believe it or not, more Republican Representatives in the House from California than from every other state except Texas and Florida.Contrary to what people who’ve literally never set foot in the Golden State think, California is diverse in every possible way. That includes preferences on smoking cannabis versus consuming it via edibles. And also, politics. Click To Tweet
Remember the 14 states that it would take to equal the GDP of California? Those states together field 75 Representatives, of which 63 are Republicans and 12 are Democrats. Together, the conservatives from these states can negate any liberal initiatives from California without a single Californian Republican vote.
Write all of this down for the next time some slack-jawed yokel lifts his head out of his feedbag to incoherently tell you that California is somehow “the problem” with our country. Well, scratch that. I actually already wrote it all down for you. So maybe just save it on your iPhone from Cupertino, California, or print it out on your HP printer from sunny Palo Alto, California.
California can’t change your laws, Cletus. It just doesn’t have the political ability to sway national politics like that. It can make movies and music and television and virtue signal all day and all night, but that’s about it. Its votes are either capped by the Constitution or washed out by your votes.
3. California Is A Happy, Healthy Place.
Has it ever occurred to you that California is the most populous state in the Union because people love living there?
Maybe if I put it in different terms, it’ll be easier to understand: let’s say you work at Kmart.
Ever notice how there’s hardly anyone at Kmart anymore, but that Costco down the road is crazy every day? Well, that’s because people freely choose where to shop, and for some reason, they choose Costco over Kmart.
One night in 1978, the Kmart night manager got sadistic and chained your ankle to the coin-operated racehorse. If I were you, I’d be mad at the Kmart manager, and eventually just take matters into my own hands…but I’m not you. I guess I can see why you’d instead aim your jealous, bitter ire at Costco. You’ve stood there, watching the Kmart to which you’re chained deteriorate while everyone elects to shop at Kmart’s competitor. It must be embarrassing and painful.
But be honest with yourself: no matter how much you hate Costco for being popular and awesome, Costco didn’t make Kmart suck, and Costco certainly didn’t chain you to the coin-op horsey out front.
Back to reality: no one is making you live in Mississippi, Cletus. And California didn’t make Mississippi suck. It always sucked.
You can be bitter about it and think 39 million people must be idiots for liking year-round perfect weather and family trees with actual branches. Or you can unhook your ankle and go to Costco like a normal person.
Plot twist: your chains were in your mind all along. Deep, right? *sips Slush Puppie.No one is making you live in Mississippi, Cletus. And California didn’t make Mississippi suck. It always sucked. #realtalk Click To Tweet
Just like Costco is beating Kmart because, well, it’s just a lot better…California is so populous precisely because it’s a great place to live. Especially in comparison to, well, you know…other places.
California ranks 13th nationally in overall well-being. In the study in question, the researchers looked at criteria such as liking where you live, feeling safe and secure, being connected, and being healthy.3
In other words, the first question in the survey about liking where you live was, “Do you like where you live?” And not surprisingly, a lot of Californians said, “yes!”
Mississippians and Alabamans…not so much.
And it’s not just the State of California writ large that ranks fairly well in, well, well-being. Seven cities in California are in the top-25 communities nationally.
Florida and Colorado each have three, Texas has two…strong showings by those states, no doubt. But oddly enough, do you know which states did not have any cities in the top-25 communities in our nation? Mississippi. Or Alabama. Or Arkansas. Or Georgia. Or Tennessee. Or Kentucky. Or Missouri. Or Oklahoma, South Dakota, North Dakota, or West Virginia.
Hey, I know! Maybe y’all could erect some statues to some confederate generals, that should elevate everyone’s mood, amirite?! I kid, I kid. Your side hates participation trophies, anyway. “If you want a god damned trophy, you need to win the war next time,” is what I imagine you’d say to a hypothetical enemy you’d just vanquished handily.
Californians are a happy bunch. Well, except Raider fans, especially lately. Seriously, who trades Khalil Mack away, are you fucking high? Sorry, stupid question, Oakland. But other than perpetual bad decisions by football people with bad haircuts, California gives its residents tons of reasons to smile.
Sure, It is expensive to live there. The cost of living is high, especially in the cities. The taxes are high. There’s a ton of traffic. There are earthquakes and wildfires. You have to dress in layers because it’s 55 in the morning and 85 in the afternoon. Sheer, unabashed INSANITY.
And what’s great about all of those true statements?
They keep you bitter hill-folk chained to your coin-op racehorses so you don’t crash the Marxist-themed party we’re all having at Fancy P. Losi’s bottomless mimosa brunch. We’re serving edibles in the shape of Das Kapital. And we shipped in a nacho cheese fountain from Fucklesburg. It’s gonna be wild!
Okay, NOW it’s blog over. Fin.
1 Just kidding, Mom. I knew I could leave a long time before I actually did.
2 Fucklesburg, West Virginia, was named in honor of Colonel Buford Lee Fuckle, who invented the nacho cheese fountain in 1863 as a diversion to entertain his malnourished and war weary regiment.
3 In full disclosure, South Dakota actually outranks California on this study. I think it’s a conspiracy by the biker community that descends upon Sturgis each year, rigging the survey to boost attendance and thus, t-shirt sales.
Want to get an awesome email from me every time I write something new? Sure you do! Sign up here.
Want to read something right now? How about this one: What’s Your End Game? Or maybe this one: Asbestos: I’ll Die On Whatever Hill I Choose. Or this one, it’s pretty good: 6 Lies About Immigrants Trump Hopes You Believe.