People often believe that leftist liberalism is at its extremes in California and more precisely in the SF Bay Area (SFBA). A quick look at some of the propositions (measures) that we have voted on might shed a slightly different light
1. Defense of Marriage
CA was expected to be the first populous state to change the definition of marriage. However, that proposition was voted down handily. No amount of judicial activism is able to change that. Even in SFBA, that measure was soundly rejected. Religious freedom is at its best here. No parent here wants their child to learn about Gays etc in school. We respect every human being but don't subscribe to changing the definition of marriage and we value the family as a unit. Don't get fooled by seeing hippies in SF.
2. Pension Reform
We are starting to see the public sector unions taking a pounding here. Yes CA is a hotbed of unionism. However, SFBA is not.
I do concede that the individual and private business state taxes are among the highest in the country. However, the SFBA economy is a tad different from the rest of the country. Here the tech industry and innovation rule the roost. We are free to start our own technology company and the success of the venture depends solely on private equity and venture capital investments in our ideas. In this respect, we have the private sector freedom on steroids. We are happy if the state reduces our taxes but taxes are not the real game changer here. None of us in the SFBA would venture to start companies/hire people based on Government tax policies. We play big. We win big and we lose big too.
So what is the key issue we are interested in ? We bear the brunt of the effects of globalization. The work in technology can be easily moved offshore (read India) and that creates a lot of volatility. So we have high paying jobs here but that soon can vanish in the blink of a eye. The fundamental question here is should the US government stay out of private sector hiring ? It might sound stupid at the outset but scratch the surface a bit you will see the problem. If the federal government stays out of private sector hiring decision making process, especially in the tech industry, firms are free to "BRING in" as many people from India as they want. Remember there are 1 billion people in India who would gladly come here, learn the job, reduce wages and then take over those jobs to India. Currently there are 2 visa categories (H1B and L1) that enable companies to bring in foreign talent. H1b visa is capped at 65000 a year. The US chamber of commerce wants unlimited visas. This is why you hear the corporate shill stories of talent shortage, bad education system blah blah etc. If the visa caps are removed, the private sector firms do well, may be government could collect taxes from these foreign talent but the US citizen loses. Both the democrats and republicans favor the industry and don't care about the people. In short, the government and private firms win but the people will lose. Will conservatism help us solve the issue ?