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The Democratic Supermajority: Use It Or Lose It

Robert Cruickshankbyline‚ Nov. 13‚ 2012

Democratic control of the California State Legislature is nothing new. Since 1970 Democrats have dominated the Capitol, with Republicans having only a narrow majority in the Assembly for a short 2-year period in the 1990s and never having control of the Senate in that time. But since 1978, Democratic majorities have been essentially meaningless. Proposition 13 required a 2/3 vote of the Legislature to raise taxes, a conservative attempt to seize power they had failed to win at the ballot box. In November 2012, Democrats finally won the 2/3 majority in the Legislature that had been so close in recent years.

The question on everyone's mind is now "what will Democrats do with their new power?" To hear California's punditocracy tell it, Democrats shouldn't do much of anything. These pundits, who have been slow to grasp the massive changes in California politics that have unfolded over the last few years, argue that Democrats should be ultra-cautious and resist attempts to make big changes. Larry Gerston provides a classic example of the genre: