updated 7/16/2008 5:15:41 PM ET 2008-07-16T21:15:41

KAL-ee-for-nee-ah, as its current governor pronounces the name, more faithful to the original Spanish than any of his predecessors except perhaps Romualdo Pacheco, who served 10 months in 1875, is America’s largest state, a nation-state really, with an economy larger than all but five nations. It is the site of the world’s most advanced cutting-edge technology, yet it is a place with plenty of Third World neighborhoods and it greeted the 21st century with Third World-like rolling blackouts of electricity. Its growth has been awesome: The Census Bureau estimated that there were 36.5 million Californians in 2006, far ahead of second-place Texas’s 23.5 million; metro Los Angeles had 17.8 million people, second only to metro New York’s 22 million, and the San Francisco Bay area had 7.2 million, not so far behind Chicagoland’s 9.7 million. The Central Valley and mountain counties had 6.8 million people; if this were a separate state it would rank 13th in population, yet it has only 19% of the population of California. San Diego County, with 2.9 million people the sixth largest county in the United States, contains only 8% of Californians. California owes this preeminence not to natural advantage but to human ingenuity. Los Angeles, with little in the way of natural resources and no natural harbor, is the nation's leading port and second-biggest manufacturer, as well as the world's entertainment center. The Bay area, which once lived by exporting food, is now the world's leader in computers and high tech. California has grown not because it had to but because people wanted it to. It has not grown without contradictions. California loves its physical environment, but also has the largest urban sprawl in the United States; it likes to think of itself as the America of the future, even as it watched the electricity flicker out earlier this decade; it likes to see itself as the political leader of the nation, but lives now with a president who did not come close to winning here and has a public sector that in important ways—in its public schools, fiscal condition, electricity regulation—has been deeply dysfunctional. California today is generally Democratic, well off to the left on cultural issues, secular more than religious. If it could imagine itself leading the nation when Bill Clinton was president, it was aware that the nation is not following its lead with George W. Bush in office. In installing Arnold Schwarzenegger as governor (while recalling Gray Davis) and reelecting Schwarzenegger three years later, California set an interesting example, one that might be followed depending on who wins the Republican presidential nomination in 2008. But it won’t be Schwarzenegger who as an immigrant is ineligible to run.

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Most of all California has been a state that is always transforming itself, whose economy has been transformed several times over, whose population has been transformed by one group of newcomers after another and whose politics is periodically transformed with the suddenness of an earthquake. If other states have changed gradually on an analog scale over the years, California has changed sharply on a digital scale: this is quantum theory physics, not wave theory. So it has been from its American beginning. In 1848, when California passed from Mexico to the United States by the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, this was an almost entirely empty land, inhabited by a few thousand Indians and Mexicans and by a few hundred American soldiers and men on the make. Then in 1849 gold was found in Sutter’s Mill and thousands arrived in the Gold Rush; within months San Francisco became one of America’s 25 largest cities. The big money was made not by the miners but by the grocers and dry goods merchants who provisioned them, like the Big Four—Crocker, Hopkins, Huntington, Stanford—who built the Central and Southern Pacific Railroads. The railroads sold off vast chunks of the Central Valley to large farming operations and enticed settlers with low fares to newly-platted suburbs in the Los Angeles Basin. Engineers built great aqueducts that stretched hundreds of miles, from the Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite to San Francisco and from the Owens River to Los Angeles, without which these metropolises could not exist. Early 20th century California was affluent and cultured, with great universities already, Berkeley and Stanford, and fine museums and libraries; it was America’s window on the Pacific, alert to developments in China and Japan, Hawaii and the Philippines, eager to extend America’s economic reach and military strength, but still, as Carey McWilliams wrote, an “island” separated from the rest of the country. Then in World War II California became one of the great defense industry states, building ships and airplanes by the thousands. Millions of Americans came here and millions stayed: The population rose from 7 million in 1940 to 17 million in 1963, when California passed New York and became the nation’s most populous state.

California's future was planned by the heads of the big units of government and business—Franklin D. Roosevelt and Henry J. Kaiser, who built vast shipyards and steel and aluminum factories; Governor Earl Warren, who husbanded tax monies to build schools and freeways in the years after the war; Robert Sproul and Clark Kerr, who built the University of California into what Kerr called “the multiversity;” Governor Pat Brown, who completed the vast system of canals and aqueducts that brought water from the wet north to the thirsty south. But the real engine of growth was the little people who took advantage of this infrastructure and built a humming economy on it. When California's defense plants closed down after World War II, leaders imagined that hundreds of thousands would have to head back east. Instead, as urbanologist Jane Jacobs pointed out, one-eighth of all the new jobs in the nation in the late 1940s were created in metro Los Angeles. This small-scale growth, multiplied thousands of times over, made California the nation's largest state. And this infusion of new people transformed California politically. Before World War II this was a Republican state, with progressive leanings; political struggles took place inside the Republican Party. The in-rush of the G.I. generation, with its allegiance to the New Deal, the building for the first time here of auto and steel factories with unionized work forces, made California a two-party state. These new migrants were middle class and working class, family men and women enjoying a life in suburbs in the lovely California climate and in the days—or remembering the days—when smog didn’t make the sky of the Los Angeles Basin an angry gray-green most days of the year. Warren’s progressive Republicans still were dominant through the mid-1950s, but with the election of Democratic Governor Pat Brown in 1958, a group of talented liberal Democrats took over. Things turned sour in the mid-1960s, when student rebellions starting in Berkeley in 1964 and the Watts riot of 1965 upset the New Deal order. Californians responded by calling in a disillusioned New Dealer espousing the conformist cultural conservatism of the G.I. generation, Ronald Reagan, who presaged the course the nation would follow in the 1980s. California was a harbinger: it showed the nation where the G.I. generation would go next.

California has turned out to be less of a harbinger, as the character of its migrants changed. California veered off on a different path in the 1970s, electing Jerry Brown as governor, entranced for a time by his original version of Baby Boomer liberalism (though he was too old to be a Boomer himself), as the World War II generation started to die out and California received a new infusion of migrants, well-educated whites attracted to the state’s groovy lifestyle and, little noticed at first, Mexicans and other Latin Americans looking for work. Voters in time soured on Brown’s liberalism: They passed Proposition 13 in 1978, banning property tax increases in a state where rapidly rising housing values were the chief source of people’s wealth; they decried his spraying of Medfly-infested crops with an overly-effective insecticide that peeled paint on houses; they ousted, after he left office, three of his Supreme Court nominees who had overturned death penalty verdicts and struck down tough-on-crime laws. Brown, with Californian creativity, has since reinvented himself as a presidential candidate (in 1976, 1980 and 1992), as the law-and-order mayor of Oakland and since 2006 as attorney general, a post his father won in 1950 and 1954.

When Brown left Sacramento, politics and government more or less disappeared from TV stations’ newscasts and voters’ minds. In the 1980s, with Reagan as president and quiet Republican George Deukmejian as governor, California’s defense industry boomed and Silicon Valley flowered off I-280 south of San Francisco. Migration continued, in vast numbers, in two streams: highly educated lawyers and show biz types, scientists and techies, enjoying the affluence of the Golden State; and Mexicans, other Latinos and East Asians, grappling to make a living in sweatshops and on construction sites and living in the dirty stucco bungalows and garden apartments the white blue collar class left behind. Neither influx had much effect on public policy, which was mostly set by Willie Brown, speaker of the California Assembly from 1980 to 1995 and later mayor of San Francisco, and the Democratic legislature furthered the causes of their clients—teachers’ unions, trial lawyers and the criminal defense bar. The response of middle class voters was government by referendum, usually a clumsy matter but sometimes effective, on criminal justice, aid to immigrants, racial quotas and preferences. This continued under Republican Pete Wilson, elected governor in 1990 and 1994. In these years California went through another transformation, as a series of natural disasters and a massive economic downturn drained the state of confidence and set it off in a new political direction. Defense industry cutbacks hit metropolitan Los Angeles hard, costing hundreds of thousands of jobs and sending housing values that had skyrocketed in the 1980s plummeting downward in the early 1990s. Television screens were absorbed by disasters both natural and manmade—from floods and earthquakes to riots and the O. J. Simpson trial. Long proud of its efficient and incorruptible government, California saw it grow larger and increasingly dysfunctional, as documented by California's greatest reporter, Lou Cannon, in his book Official Negligence, the definitive story of the Rodney King beating, the Los Angeles riot and the trials that followed. In the 1990s California lost its trademark big businesses to mergers, so that today downtown Los Angeles has only one Fortune 500 company headquarters and San Francisco is no longer headquarters of the Bank of America. In the first half of the 1990s, about 2 million Californians, mostly white and affluent, abandoned California for other western states or went even farther back east.

In the meantime, and in increasing numbers, immigrants keep arriving. The Census Bureau reported that California’s Hispanic percentage rose from 26% in 1990 to 32% in 2000 and to an estimated 35% in 2003; the Asian percentage was 10% in 1990, 11% in 2000 and 12% in 2003. Since 1990, California has had a net outflow of people to the rest of the United States offset by an even larger inflow of people from other countries. The pace accelerated from 2000 to 2004, with a net out-migration domestically of 415,000 and a net in-migration of 1.2 million from other countries. Los Angeles County has become what New York City was 100 years ago, the greatest immigrant entry point in the United States. The 2000 Census recorded Los Angeles County’s population of 9.5 million as 45% Hispanic, 10% Black and 12% Asian. Here you can find the world’s largest numbers of Mexicans, Iranians, Samoans, Filipinos, Salvadorans, Armenians, Guatemalans, Koreans and Thais outside their native countries. And immigrants are not just concentrated in Los Angeles County; they have spread through almost all parts of California. Orange County was 31% Hispanic in 2000, San Bernardino County 39%, Fresno County in the Central Valley 44%. Santa Clara County, home of Silicon Valley, was 26% Asian in 2000, San Francisco 31%, Alameda and San Mateo Counties 20%, Orange County 14%.

This new demographics—an outflow of Americans and an inflow of immigrants—helped make Proposition 187, denying non-emergency state government spending on illegal immigrants and their children became a central issue in 1994. Wilson, trailing state Treasurer Kathleen Brown in polls and concerned about fast-rising state spending on illegals, supported 187 and, though he was careful to differentiate between illegal and legal immigrant, also ran ads showing Mexicans sprinting across the border and stating in ominous tones, “They keep coming.” Voters made that distinction too; 59% of all voters and about one-third of Hispanics voted for the proposition. Wilson won a decisive victory, 55%-41%, but one that came with considerable collateral damage for his party. In later elections Latino turnout increased and Latinos increasingly turned to the Democratic Party. The Latino vote increased from 10% of the vote in 1994 to 14% in 1998, and Gray Davis beat Republican Dan Lungren among Hispanics by 78%-16%—a huge drop for Republicans, since Wilson got almost 40% of the Latino vote in 1990. In 2000 Hispanics again cast 14% of California’s votes, and voted 68%-29% for Al Gore. Those margins have since diminished; the NEP exit poll showed John Kerry leading George W. Bush 63%-34% in 2004. Asian immigrants seem also to have moved away from the Republicans. In the early 1990s Asians cast Republican margins, perhaps out of recoil from the 1992 riot, after the establishment showed great solicitude for the needs of the rioters but little sympathy for the Korean shopkeepers who were their victims. Later in the decade, Asians seemed to move toward Democrats, as Bill Clinton and Al Gore (remember his visit to the Buddhist temple in Hacienda Heights) courted them assiduously. The 2000 exit polls were in conflict: VNS showed Asians for Gore by only 48%-47% while the Los Angeles Times exit poll showed them giving Gore a 63%-33% margin. The 2004 NEP poll, showing Kerry carrying Asians 66%-34%, tends to confirm the Times's numbers.

This Democratic trend among Latinos was one of two trends that moved California toward the Democrats in the 1990s; the other was the increasing prominence of cultural issues like abortion and gun control on which most affluent Californians in the big metropolitan areas have liberal views. Between 1980 and 1990 Republicans won seven of nine contests for president, senator and governor and nearly won another. From 1992 to 2002 Democrats won nine of ten such contests, the one exception being Wilson’s reelection in 1994. Another key factor was Bill Clinton. After winning California in 1992 with 46% of the vote, Clinton understood that if he could lock up California’s 54 electoral votes (it now has 55) he would be a long way toward being assured of re-election. He courted the state with dozens of appearances, with special attention to California issues and projects, with assiduous cultivation of Hollywood celebrities and Silicon Valley cybermillionaires. He carried the state 51%-38% in 1996. Clinton’s combination of moderation on economic issues and liberalism on cultural issues was a perfect fit for a critical block of California voters, the affluent professionals and techies who support abortion rights and gun control and who are increasingly fearful of the prominence of Christian conservatives in the national and to some extent the state Republican party. Affluent Americans increasingly are not moored to any one locality, but can choose where they live, from an array of places with widely different cultural atmospheres. Those with traditional values and traditional religious views tend to pick metropolises like Atlanta, Dallas and Houston; those with liberation-minded values and secular or non-Christian religious attitudes tend to pick Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay area. The quantum of all these personal decisions over the last decade and a half have made Georgia and Texas more Republican and made California more Democratic.

The Democratic trend in California reached its peak in 1998 when Gray Davis was elected governor by a 58%-38% margin and in 2000 when Al Gore carried the state 53%-42% over George W. Bush, even though Bush spent $20 million on California media and Gore not a penny. In the same years, Democratic Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein were both reelected by far wider margins than six years before. In 2002, with Clinton far less prominent, the Democrats’ fortunes ebbed a bit in California. Gray Davis, with low job ratings after the 2001 electricity crisis, was reelected by only a 47%-42% margin. Democrats won every statewide downballot office for the first time since 1882, but not by overwhelming margins: their candidates’ percentages varied from 45% to 51%, while Republicans’ percentages varied from 40% to 45%, and conservative firebrand Tom McClintock came within 17,000 votes of being elected controller.

Then came the recall of Gray Davis and the election of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Recall was the project of conservative Republicans, who stumbled onto the idea. Davis represented an apotheosis of a political governing class which, thanks to its political competence and to California voters’ faithfulness to a party which stood for liberal cultural values, had insulated itself largely from public control. The California legislature was the first in the nation to develop a large staff and to use the advantages of incumbency to protect against opposition; redistricting plans were adopted which reduced toward zero the chance of change in party control of seats. Davis capitalized on an apathetic electorate and an uninterested press to win elections by delivering the simple message that the opposition was unacceptable. But politicians who insulate themselves from public retaliation risk widespread revolt when things go sour. Things went sour on Davis with the electricity crisis and his handling of an electricity deregulation bill he had nothing to do with and when revenues fell by huge proportions after the dot.com bust of 2000; his 47% in 2002 was a harbinger of the problem he would have in 2003. The recount movement started and fizzled out in February 2003. Then Congressman Darrell Issa revived it with personal money, and Davis stimulated it by signing a bill (after vetoing others) authorizing driver’s licenses for illegal aliens and unilaterally increased the license plate fee by 2% of vehicle value. By July it was apparent that enough petition signatures would be obtained to force a recall election. California law provides that in a recall election voters also get to choose who will succeed to the office if the incumbent is recalled; a relatively low number of signatures is required, and only a plurality is needed to win. The election was scheduled for October. Conservatives Tom McClintock and Issa put their names on the ballot; prominent Democrats, pledged to support Davis, did not. Schwarzenegger, who had spent fall 2002 campaigning for his own ballot proposition for after school programs, was busy publicizing Terminator 3. Then in early August Schwarzenegger went on The Tonight Show and surprised his political advisers by announcing he was running. Issa got off the ballot; Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante got on, while saying he wanted Davis to stay in office.

In October 2003, recall won 55%-45% and on the replacement ballot Schwarzenegger won 49% of the vote to 32% for Bustamante and 13% for McClintock; a solid majority in this Democratic state had voted for Republicans. Turnout was way up from 2002—from 7.5 million to 9.0 million—and Schwarzenegger received more votes in 2003, 4.2 million, than Davis had in 2002, 3.5 million. Schwarzenegger’s election seemed to mean the end of insider politics in California and the beginning of plebiscitary politics. Television stations rushed to set up news bureaus in Sacramento and newspapers headlined state government news: Schwarzenegger was the first governor since Jerry Brown to get such news coverage. Taking advantage of it, he ordered an audit of state government and forced the legislature to repeal driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants. He forced changes in workmen’s comp laws. He put two bond issues on the March 2004 ballot, campaigned for them vigorously and saw them passed with 63% and 71% of the vote. At the same time, 66% of voters rejected Democratic legislators’ amendment to make it easier to raise taxes. In March 2004 he forced the legislature to accept his budget by using his star power and threatening to take the issue to the people. Schwarzenegger had his successes in November 2004 referenda as well: measures he favored passed (financing stem-cell research, limiting tort actions), while measures he opposed failed (expanding Indian casinos, relaxing the “three strikes and you’re out” law). California voters seemed to be in line with their new Republican governor.

It was a different story in 2005. Schwarzenegger planned a frontal attack on the power structure in Sacramento. He called for defined contribution plans for state employees, which would sap the power of CalPERS, which invests the state defined benefit pension plan monies, and for merit pay for teachers, an anathema to teacher union. These he abandoned when they predictably went nowhere in the legislature. But he did put on the November 2005 ballot measures that would give the governor new powers to cut spending, increase the number of years teachers needed to get tenure and create a commission to redistrict the legislature and the House delegation. This time he got strong opposition. Public employees spent more than $100 million on anti-Schwarzenegger TV ads. Nurse union members told the cameras they were not, as he had said, “special interests.” His poll ratings fell far under 50% and the three ballot propositions failed. Ironically, each got a smaller percentage than one Schwarzenegger supported only belatedly, a requirement that public employees get members’ permission before using their dues money for political purposes. That, if passed, would prevent the unions from mauling anyone again as they did Schwarzenegger in 2005.

Schwarzenegger promptly changed course. He hired one of Gray Davis’s top aides as his chief of staff and swapped Republican advisers for Democrats. He worked closely with Speaker Fabian Nunez and Senate President Don Perata, and in the spring they agreed to put $37 billion of bonds on the November ballot, for highways, housing, school construction and flood control: shades of Pat Brown. They reached agreement on a budget earlier than in the past 5 years. Schwarzenegger signed many measures which were opposed by most Republican legislators and supported by most Democrats. All of which put the Democratic candidate for governor, Treasurer Phil Angelides, in a tight corner. He seemed to campaign as much against the Iraq war as against Schwarzenegger’s California record, and argued that the Republican would turn conservative again in 2007. Meanwhile Schwarzenegger was making appearances with Nunez in support of the bond issues. They all passed, and Schwarzenegger won 56%-39%. Only one other statewide Republican candidate, Steve Poizner for insurance commissioner, won. California appeared to be a solidly Democratic state, except that it was solid for the Terminator too.

Or is it two states, or perhaps three? Once upon a time people used to analyze California politics by distinguishing between Northern California and Southern California. Northern California—the Central Valley and the North Coast as well as the San Francisco Bay area—tended to vote for John Kennedy, Hubert Humphrey and Jimmy Carter. Southern California—Los Angeles County as well as the smaller suburban and desert counties—tended to vote for Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. Today the divisions run the other way. The two states are Coastal California and Interior California. You can argue about the dividing lines and about whether there can really be said to be a difference between Los Angeles and Orange Counties on the one hand and the Inland Empire of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties on the other: you can’t tell much difference between them when you cross the line on the I-10 Freeway. But the difference is demographic. Between 2000 and 2006 Coastal California, defined as all the counties that touch the Coast or San Francisco Bay, plus Napa—had an immigrant inflow of 6% and a domestic outflow of 7%. That’s a lot of people: 1.4 million immigrants moving in, 1.8 million native-born Americans, net, moving out. Out to places with lower housing prices, fewer visible immigrants, more middle class accommodations, to the Inland Empire and the Central Valley, Arizona and Nevada, Texas and the Rocky Mountain states. Interior California from 2000 to 2006 saw quite different movements, an immigrant inflow of 3% overshadowed by a domestic inflow of 9%. The result is that Coastal California grew 4% in those years, less than the national average of 6%, while Interior California grew by 17%, more than any state except Nevada and Arizona. Coastal California by itself would still be the largest state, but would have only a bit more than 1 million people more than faster-growing Texas and would be soon overtaken by it. Interior California by itself would be slightly smaller than the seventh largest state, Ohio, and would seem likely to overtake it soon—and Pennsylvania and Illinois not much later.

The huge immigrant inflow and domestic outflow from Coastal California is making it a two-tiered society economically, with a very affluent elite in the professions, show biz, science, high tech, living in houses costing multiple millions, and with a very large body of immigrants, Central Americans living in the modest stucco houses built for Middle Americans in the 1950s and 1960s, working double shifts on and off the books in the hopes of making it to a more comfortable suburb. Democratic politicians complain about a widening gap between the rich and the poor, but it is widest in Coastal California, where secular affluent elites and religious low-income immigrants both vote very heavily Democratic—59%-40% for president in 2004, more Democratic than any other states except John Kerry’s Massachusetts and Rhode Island. This is accentuated if you break off from Coastal California the South Coast—Orange and San Diego Counties. Demographically these two counties look like Coastal California, with immigrant inflow and domestic outflow, but politically they behave pretty much like Interior California. That’s partly because for many years they’ve been very heavily Republican and partly because it appears that immigrants here, at least in Orange County, vote much less heavily Democratic than in Los Angeles County. Coastal California without the South Coast voted 64%-34% for John Kerry, a bigger Democratic margin than in any state or in any million-plus metro area.

Interior California is a very different kind of place, with twice as many native-born Americans moving in than immigrants. Growth is vibrant, even chaotic; the income gap is not so wide as in Coastal California, with not nearly so many high-income people and with low-income immigrants facing at least a somewhat lower cost of living. No Neiman Marcuses here and not so many swap-meets; more Wal-Marts and Target. In 2004 Interior California voted 57%-42% for George W. Bush, a result close to that in the demographically similar and somewhat smaller Georgia and North Carolina. If you put Interior California together with the demographically different but politically similar South Coast, you’d have a state of 17 million, just 1 million behind Florida, growing 12.8% since 2000, just under Florida’s 13.2%. Politically, it voted 56%-42% for George W. Bush in 2004, versus Florida’s 52%-47%. As a separate state, this Interior/South Coast California would cast 25 or 26 pretty sure Republican electoral votes. But it’s part of California, which casts 55 pretty sure Democratic ones.

Coastal California and Interior California live uneasily together and uneasily within themselves. Coastal California has been utterly dominant since 1992 in presidential elections and in elections for senator: its sentiments on national issues, on cultural issues like abortion from 1992 to 2000, on foreign issues like the war in Iraq since 2003, all have resulted in strong Democratic majorities in the combined California. In 2006, for example, Senator Dianne Feinstein carried Coastal California from Los Angeles, which cast 54% of the state’s votes, by 68%-26%, a margin so large it hardly mattered what she got in the rest of the state (she lost the rest of the state by 49%-46%). Down the ballot the effect has been similar: in races for congressman, state senator and Assembly you find scarcely any districts within Coastal California (except for the South Coast) which have elected Republicans starting with the 2002 redistricting. Rich, poor, the few left in the middle: they’re all heavily Democratic. It is in races for governor that Coastal California has been less than totally dominant. Only once since 1992 has a Democrat won by a wide margin, Gray Davis in 1998, in the pattern seen in the senate and presidential races—overwhelming support in Coastal California except the South Coast, running about even in Interior California. In 1994 Pete Wilson was reelected by a wide margin; in 2002 and 2003 Davis got only 47% for reelection for 45% opposing recall. Interior California voted 67% and the South Coast 70% to recall Davis; Coastal California from Los Angeles north went 56%-44% for Davis, but was outvoted. Similarly, Schwarzenegger in 2006 won 65% in Interior California and 67% in the South Coast, while winning Coastal California from Los Angeles north by only several hundred votes. Schwarzenegger’s stands on cultural issues are mostly acceptable in Coastal California, while his stands against the excesses of Coastal liberalism give him big majorities in the Interior and South Coast. Contests for governor have become the most embattled and hard to predict because the holder of the office is visible and can be held accountable for any negative consequences of Coastal liberalism.

Even so, Coastal liberalism depends not just on voters but on institutional strength, particularly the institutional strength of the public employee unions, which can mobilize thousands of volunteers and spend literally hundreds of millions of dollars. When Arnold Schwarzenegger took them on in 2005, he failed—and promptly changed course. He turned agilely to other issues, emphasizing carbon emission curbs, a cause sure to elicit great approval in Coastal California, probably including the South Coast, and not inspiring much in the way of negative feelings in Interior California, at least until negative practical effects become apparent; and to building and rebuilding infrastructure. These policy thrusts come as close to a shared vision of California, a vision that was put into action and subjected to tests as the Greatest Generation migrants, middle class and working class and sharing a common culture, streamed into the California of Earl Warren, Pat Brown and Ronald Reagan. Today there are different streams of migrants, and some are leaving the state rather than coming in: high-skill migrants from America and from Asia and other foreign lands as well, interested in enriching themselves in a socially tolerant paradise; low-skill migrants primarily from Latin America seeking to raise themselves up from hard work in the hope that their children can rise higher; and middle-skill migrants, most of the native-born Americans but some Hispanic immigrants as well, skilled workers and middle managers, frustrated with California’s high housing prices and clogged traffic jams, tempted to move out of Los Angeles and into the Inland Empire, out of California and into Arizona, Nevada and Texas. Is the vision of the state’s governing classes enough to hold them together?


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