“We aren’t losing arguments, we’re losing elections.”
The core strategy of TEAPAC to achieve its mission is to build a statewide, non-partisan political infrastructure based in the local communities for the purpose of qualifying and passing initiatives that will solve California’s top problems. We identify Pension Reform and School Choice as the two most critical issues facing California today. On the local level, we are working for tax relief by repealing municipal utility taxes, while building support for the statewide initiatives.
The Political Realities in California
Let's start with a few observations about current politics, both state and national, that summarize our political situation as Californians.
No matter who was elected president,
the federal government is not going to be $1 dollar smaller on January 20, 2021
than when the oath of office was taken on the same day in 2017. The government is likely to be larger if only
to restore our badly deteriorated defense posture. Moreover, the real opposition party will be
the Big Government Party which is comprised of the leadership of both major
parties and everyone who benefits from government largess. The constitutionally unfettered judiciary
combined with an unopposed executive branch will expand the size and scope of
government to unprecedented levels. A
compliant congress will just watch it all
The federal government cannot be
reformed from within, that is, it simply cannot and will not reform
itself. Only the states can do this by
using their power under Article V of the United States Constitution to call a
Convention of States. By definition,
this will be a long-term effort requiring many years to convoke the states and to
propose and ratify amendments to the constitution.
Notwithstanding the above, there is
much that can and should be done at the state and local level to reduce the
size and scope of government. Under the
California state constitution, the people, who are the real and ultimate source
of the state's authority, have reserved to themselves the power to legislate
when and where they see fit. In
California, it is long past time that citizens use their inherent constitutional
power to reform, restrain and reduce government at every level. They have both the power and the duty to
restore limited, constitutional government.
This, not federal politics, should be the focus of our attention as
Because California electoral politics
have collapsed, we must create a new organization that will identify
California's key problems and enact legislative solutions by the systematic,
long-term use of the initiative process to bypass a corrupt legislature.
5. If we are successful, we will change not only our state but the rest of the country as well. California is now and always will be the future of America.
The Challenge of Our Generation
The reality is that the problems we face in California happened on our watch. Hence, it's our responsibility to deal with those problems. Simply stated, restoring limited, constitutional government is the challenge of our generation. We can begin to meet that challenge right here in California.
The Continuing Crisis of Citizenship
We can spend endless hours cataloguing the problems we have both in America and in California, but the greatest crisis we face is the Crisis of Citizenship. Because we still have the inherent power to change our government, we must accept personal responsibility not only for creating our problems but for solving them as well. Low voter registration, low voter turnout, and broad political apathy explain but do not excuse our failure to take control of our government. The question is not what should be done but what each of us is actually going to do personally and individually to address the problems we face both as Americans and as Californians.
Our Efforts to Date
We concluded in the middle of the 2012 election cycle that we could not solve California's problems by attempting to find and elect the "right" candidates. Given our rapid decline, such an effort, even if successful, would be too little, too late. We therefore embraced the initiative process as the only available solution to our problems.
Understanding that the only way to make government smaller is to make government smaller, we decided to focus on local initiatives to repeal municipal Utility User Taxes. We qualified four such initiatives in Glendale, Arcadia, South Pasadena and Sierra Madre. In our first two tax repeal efforts, we were able to accomplish some amazing things on very, very limited resources. Even though we were outspent by at least 20:1, we identified local citizens who were as concerned about these issues as we were. In doing so, we not only increased voter turnout and won over thousands of voters to our side, we also succeeded in making taxes and spending the issue, focused attention on the incredible salaries and benefits that the Government Class pays itself and exposed the $1.0 trillion+ unfunded statewide pension debt which effectively renders insolvent not only the state but every city, county and district as well. In and of itself, this is a significant and laudable achievement. We now have real political capital that we can leverage for the future.
Local Initiatives Lay the Foundation for Statewide Political Infrastructure
There is no permanent, professionally funded and managed statewide political infrastructure in California working on these issues. There are statewide organizations but they have neither a strategy nor the means to execute a strategy. We recognize the need for a statewide structure based in the local communities.
Behind the Power Curve
Our initial plan was to begin at the local level, generate support, build strong local organizations, achieve some initial "victories," and grow organically from there. There was nothing wrong with this strategy. The only problem was that California is in economic and political free fall. The feeding frenzy of public employees and special interests at the public trough has rapidly outpaced any effort to control it incrementally. As a result, we are, as it were, behind the political power curve in this state. Therefore, in addition to continuing our local tax repeal initiatives, we must undertake reform at the state level. To achieve this goal, we have developed a plan and created an organization with a statewide portfolio.
Is California Lost?
When I raise these issues with fellow conservatives and other concerned citizens, I often hear that it is "too late" or that "California is lost." While these sentiments are understandable, they do not stand scrutiny. These defeatist words imply that somehow, somewhere, sometime, someone really tried to alter the trajectory of this state; that we had a good plan, tried our best, went all out, did everything we could but failed.
Well, that never happened. I hear this all the time, but the facts are:
· We never had a plan.
· We never had a strategy.
· We never had an organization.
· We never had a long-term perspective.
This is not to say that nothing was done. To the contrary many, many people and organizations made heroic efforts to change the direction of our state. Too often, however, these efforts were limited to party activism or well-meaning “one-off” initiatives. Massive financial resources were often committed to elect candidates or pass initiatives who were either defeated or, if elected, rendered impotent by legislative bodies dominated by Big Government politicians and the special interests. Too often we threw up our hands in defeat when we lost rather than capitalizing on our gains and renewing our attack.
Charting a Course for California in the 21st Century
California, standing by itself, is the 6th largest economy in the world. With almost 40 million people, it is by far the largest state in the union. Texas, with 25 million, is a distant second. Florida (19 million) and New York (19 million) are each only about half the size of California. This gives you some idea of how big our job is. I said “big,” not impossible.
The fact is that we don't know what can be accomplished because we've never really tried. It is time for sober, serious minded citizens to act strategically to take California back and position it for the 21st Century. First and foremost, California needs a nonpartisan citizens’ organization whose purpose is to identify the top problems we need to solve in California in the 21st century, develop legislative solutions to these problems and use the statewide initiative process to systematically implement this legislation, and most importantly, adopt a long-term outlook.
We cannot excuse ourselves because of our age, the continuing demands
of our business or profession or even our declining health. Each of us should
do whatever we can to meet these challenges because if enough of us work
together on this plan we can win. Nor should we be tempted to excuse ourselves
because of the difficulty of the task that lies before us. Believe me when I
say that living in the American Gulag will be a lot tougher. Bear in mind also that the only reason the
task is so hard now is because we didn't start yesterday. By the same token, we
may be assured that the problem will be that much harder tomorrow. Let's acknowledge that just as it took 100
years to get to where we are, it's going to take more than two or three
election cycles to fix our state. The sooner we begin, the better.
Michael T. Alexander