Guest opinion: Local Republican assesses party's loss
Election night was tough for Republicans, doubly so if you are in California. Statewide and nationally, we took quite a beating. For my own race in the 24th state Assembly district, against incumbent Rich Gordon, I had my head handed to me, as a friend of mine accurately predicted months ago.
Many of my friends in the district have even privately urged me to switch party affiliation. I respectfully decline. Maybe it's because I've always had a weakness for lost causes, or, coming from China, I am always wary of a government that pretends to offer answers and moral guidance in every aspects of civil life.
More importantly, I believe a healthy democracy requires a vigorous and vigilant opposition. Here in California, where Democrats appear to have won a super-majority in both houses, the Legislature could become a stale pot, unless a spirited challenge once in a while from the other party makes sure worthy candidates are fielded, even in safe districts. Mr. Gordon definitely tops that list.
But that alone is not sufficient for the Republican Party. It is also time for us to step up and offer solutions. If we want to make changes on important issues such as pension reform, education, and reducing the systematic impediments for economic growth, we must work with the Democratic majority on issues higher on their priority list, such as the environment, social services, and health care reform. For the good of our constituents and California, we must play hard ball when we can, compromise when we should, and participate always.
For education, school choice is good; but by itself cannot solve all problems in K-12 education. We need to work with teachers and offer pragmatic solutions to improve our public schools now because not every kid has parents who have the knowledge or resources to take them out of public schools. We also need to stop pretending that a rising tide will necessarily lift all boats, and be ready to support robust and tangible solutions to assist the less fortunate amongst us.
On the environment, we must be part of a constructive dialogue. For example, if California is serious about reducing carbon emissions, solar panels alone are not going to do it. Let's consider nuclear power. Let's build a number of them, in Nevada (with an even worse unemployment rate than us), perhaps, as part of a western states energy grid compact. On health care reform, improving access and reducing costs are worthy objectives. We will advance our effective proposals that achieve these objectives not by cumbersome committees but through harnessing the competitive and innovative spirits of our industries.
At the same time, we must not shy away from our principles. We must work towards comprehensive and long-term reform of the government pension systems. We must reduce the size and improve the cost-effectiveness of government to ease the tax burdens on the backs of Californians. We must champion effective tort reform that will reduce cost to small and local businesses and defend religious freedom from malicious lawsuits that aim to drive religion out of every aspect of public life wherever the government steps into an area to "help."
At heart, the American people are optimistic, especially here in California. It is disheartening that turn-out in this presidential election fell below 60 percent locally. For those too disillusioned or disgusted by the status quo, the California Republican Party must present a vision and a plan for renewed vibrancy and upward mobility.
George Yang, a Republican from Menlo Park, was defeated by Democrat Rich Gordon for the District 24 seat in the state Assembly.