Jonathan Kraut | A Valley in Transition


The surprise was when, not if.

This November the Santa Clarita Valley and parts of Orange County finally moved to elect Democrats to replace officials in long-held Republican seats. Given the steady increase of Democratic voters in these ancient pockets of conservatism, Republican districts, the experts projected, could be turning as early as 2022.

Having these areas voting blue now was not expected, but Trump’s re-formed Republican Party sped up the process and the transition in power back to the Dems has clearly begun.

Christy Smith squeaked past Dante Acosta for the 38th District State Assembly Seat, which encompasses most of Santa Clarita. Although Dante was considered as fairly moderate, political newcomer Christy at this point is about 6,000 ahead as the last ballots are being counted and will unseat the Republican incumbent Acosta.

Democrat Katie Hill is about 15,000 votes ahead of incumbent Steve Knight. Katie is going to represent much of the Santa Clarita Valley, the Antelope Valley, and parts of the San Fernando Valley as winner of the 25th District Congressional District seat.

Similar close races in Orange County have Dems Gil Cisneros winning the 39th Congressional District seat, Katie Porter ahead in the 45th, and Harley Rouda winning the 48th. It is projected that around 37 Democratic House seats will be gained as the 116th Congress convenes in January.

This shift in party preference throughout much of Southern California will certainly continue for the time being, and is part of the natural process of social evolution.

I know that “evolution” to some conservatives is a dirty word, but social values, and as a result new party platforms and political views, constantly evolve.

Because the primitive and ineffective two-party system is so entrenched in American culture, the parties themselves undergo constant change, as there are no political alternatives to embrace. Party transformation usually is a response to the loss of power and a grand thumping at the ballot as the Republicans just experienced.

Just look back into our political past. The Democrats formed in 1828 essentially to oppose slave rights and were in favor of businesses who wanted to preserve servitude. Former Alabama four-term Democratic Gov. George Wallace was a bigot and a racist. In contrast, the Democratic Party is now the party of every race, every religion, and has opened up definitions regarding gender and marriage.

The Republican Party forming in the 1850s and the party of Lincoln opposed slavery and believed in federal powers over the states. The Republican Party under Ronald Reagan wanted to curb federal powers and restore states’ rights — the opposite view of when the party was founded.

We are undergoing similar political transformations even today.

Two years ago, it was the Year of the Bully. Donald Trump accused, demeaned and blamed everyone and anyone opposed to his views and candidacy. Especially derogatory toward women and those of non-Judeo-Christian beliefs, his nationalistic, self-righteous and entitlement messages resonated with those tired of offering respect and patient consideration as was characterized by the Obama administration. Trump trashed “political correctness” as a response to Obama’s measured and deliberate approach.

Trump characterized having respect for others as being weak. Many bought his dominate-subordinate mindset and his “us against them” model of the world. Trump’s 2016 victory set in motion the political response but two years later.

So powerful was the reaction against this bully view and vitriolic conduct that society responded by electing a record number of women to Congress, traditionally red seats shifted to blue, and competent but previously unelectable Katie Hill and Christy Smith are now about to take office.

The Republican Party, in order to survive post-Trump, will certainly shift as well.

I don’t think the “us against them, everyone from the outside is an enemy” game is working very well. Perhaps the GOP is going to move back toward Reagan and Bush I’s strength with a mutual respect approach, more local autonomy, ensure good job-markets platform.

The Dems, while riding a blue wave ahead for now clearly are resonating with voters, but will have to do more than run competent women and people of color for office.

Fair and thoughtful immigration reform, comprehensive health care, pay equality and promoting full respect for women and minorities, returning to diplomacy with foreign powers, and better designed social programs can and should be the hallmarks of the next Democratic Party.

Neither party will ever hit a point of no return. Rather, each party adapts to the people’s reaction to the other party’s poor performance.

Let’s see where this takes us.

Jonathan Kraut directs a private investigations firm, is the CFO private security firm, is the COO of at an Acting Conservatory, is a published author, and Democratic Party activist. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal or of other organizations.

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