The Democratic Supermajority in California

By Albin Quan

In 2016, given the overwhelming support for Hillary Clinton and the 14.6 million ballots cast in November, California voters handed Democrats a narrow supermajority in both state chambers. With this mandate of progressive action, Assembly and Senate Democrats must work together to address the most critical problems within the state and cannot afford to delay. No longer can they blame intransigent Republicans but now they must implement ambitious solutions for the state and lead the country as the vanguard of progressive energy.

While the House Freedom Caucus handed the Republican party and President Trump a defeat last week over the showdown on healthcare, the California Democratic party will need to confront its own intraparty differences if it wants to avoid a similar reckoning in the State Legislature. To do this, the Democratic leadership should seek to assuage concerns from pro-business members that its agenda will harm the state’s economy by promising incremental implementation and bipartisan deliberation. Restraint, compromise, and pragmatism are the tools of the governing party and to demonstrate their cooperation, Democrats should continue to work with moderate Republicans to enact common sense reform throughout the state.

With Governor Jerry Brown’s leadership, Democrats have already proposed a multi-billion dollar transportation and infrastructure deal to improve California’s aging roads, a sweeping financial aid proposal to address college affordability for nearly half a million students, and a legislative package addressing immigration policies in the state under the Trump administration. While the supermajority has not changed the fundamental dynamics of Sacramento, visionary policies and dramatic gestures of defiance have given California Democrats a unifying agenda that they can offer as an alternative to conservative politics throughout the United States.