On Saturday night, the keynote speaker at the California Republican Convention was Breitbart News editor-at-large Ben Shapiro. Shapiro electrified the crowd, was repeatedly interrupted for applause, and received a long standing ovation at the end of his oration, which focused on how Republicans can win back the state of California.
Shapiro began by describing the state of California under Democrats as living in a “state of fiction.” In California, Shapiro said, “we have fictional bullet trains that take us to fictional cities, because they’re bankrupt, where we have fictional jobs, which don’t exist, paid for by fictional taxes that are created for fictional businesses than have now moved to Texas.”
California, he continued, “is in really bad shape,” largely thanks to the efforts of Governor Jerry Brown, who created the public sector union bargaining power that has bankrupted the state.
But Shapiro pointed out that the worse Democrats seem to do for the state, the better they do electorally. “You would think that a certain point the people of California would learn their lesson,” Shapiro said. “Maybe these people are really horrible at their jobs and we should stop electing them. Instead, the converse has occurred. Instead, it seems as though the worse they do, the more votes they get. And so the question becomes, why aren’t we winning?”
Shapiro spelled out the reason: Republicans have been bullied. They have been told that they are morally deficient for opposing the same liberal policies that have bankrupted the state. Shapiro cited Brown’s state of the state address, in which Brown said that if you disagreed with his policies, it was because you believe “that California is in decline.” “Read the undercurrent of what he was saying,” Shapiro pointed out. “Everybody in this room apparently believes that Californians don’t work, are stupid, are lazy, that the state is in decline …. Because we don’t care about the people of California, we are willing to victimize them.”
And, said Shapiro, thanks to this Democratic lie and the media’s willingness to parrot it, “When you look at the state of California what you’re seeing is various ethnic groups convinced, absolutely convinced, that Republicans are nasty human beings …. The people who emigrate to this country? They want to work hard. They do. They want to get jobs. They want to be part of this society. They come here for the American dream, if they didn’t, they would have stayed on the other side of the border. They come here to be part of this, and then they become Democrats. Why do you think they become Democrats? And why do you think it is, that when you talk to folks who are Hispanic, the first thing you have to do, is you’re put in the unwinnable situation of having to explain why you’re not a racist.”
But, Shapiro added, Republicans could win the state. In fact, they have to win the state, he averred. “California is uniquely important for Republicans because it’s a bellwether state,” he said. “Maybe national Republicans don’t see it that way, maybe national Republicans concede the state of California,” but California’s demographic shift presages the demographic shift of the country as a whole. Republicans, said Shapiro, will have to reach out to new groups to win.
Shapiro said it could be done. He urged Republicans to define their opposition: “These are big government bureaucrats who think they can run our lives. These are people who want to bully us into living the way they want. These are people who do not give a damn about kids in the inner cities who are getting a crappy education; they don’t. They don’t care about those kids; they care about the union payoffs they’re going to get for paying off the unions to keep those schools in the dregs.”
And he urged Republicans to shift the narrative and identify holes in the arguments of Democrats. “They say we’re the party of the rich. Did you watch the Oscars?” Shapiro quipped. “How is it the Republican party isn’t using class warfare against Hollywood? Next time Jerry Brown proposes a tax, we propose another tax. You know what the tax is? The tax is, If you earn your money in less than 25 weeks a year we take all of it.”
Shapiro said that Republicans would have to go back to basics if they wanted to win, branching out to heretofore ignored populations. He pointed out that with the shifting demographics of the state, minorities have an especially large stake in the financial future of the state – if retirees are largely white and working-age populations are largely minority, minorities will be footing the bill for union pensions.
Republicans, said Shapiro, should learn Spanish. “Let’s learn Spanish. Let’s learn Swahili. Whatever it takes to give people the message of conservatism, go there and do it!” he stated. Then, in Spanish, he added, “We should all be learning Spanish as fast as possible.” In English, he explained, “Everybody should be learning Spanish as fast as possible, not because Spanish is better than English, not for the sake of multiculturalism, which is idiocy and dilutes American values, not because of any of that, but because conservatism is universal and not language-bound …. We can win people back, but they have to hear the message.”
Shapiro ended by reiterating his central theme: Democrats in the state are bullies who have been able to get away with their bullying for too long:
In the end, we cannot win until we recognize who these people are. They are vile; they have no interest in what’s best for the state of California. We need to be saying that. We need to be saying over and over, they don’t have an interest in what’s good for the state of California …. Do they really not see what they’ve done to this state? Do they really not see what’s happened to the children of this state, who are getting less than average educations in math, in science, in reading? Do they really not see that businesses are fleeing on a daily basis? They’re raising gas taxes again and businesses are getting the hell out. Do they not see? And if we give them credit, you know what we’re doing? We’re legitimizing these folks …. And there’s good news here: now they have to own their record. They own it. They break it, they bought it, they own it. They built this. And now they get to defend it. And if we don’t make them defend it and make them defend their intentions in implementing such a God-awful system, then we have failed in our fundamental duty; not only to ourselves, not only to the state of California, but to the founding principles on which this country stands. There is only one way to defeat a bully; everybody knows it: President Obama said it himself: you punch back twice as hard. Thanks so much.”