Written by Justin Culetu
The Democrat-controlled California Legislature have recently displayed their divide on policy matters, as multiple progressive proposals have been rejected only halfway through the legislative year.
Assemblyman Alex Lee, a 25-year-old Democratic socialist endorsed by Bernie Sanders, experienced the divide firsthand, as three of his proposals got shot down by his fellow Democrat legislators. As the youngest California lawmaker in over 80 years, Lee predicted that he might experience ostracization and disregard by fellow lawmakers for being too young and ideologically too progressive.
Lee worked to get typical progressive bills passed, such as single-payer health care, a wealth tax, and a ban on business entities contributing to money to political candidates, but failed to garner any support.
A public rebuke on the latter proposal came from a fellow Democrat Assemblymember, Marc Berman, who stated that Lee’s bill “deceives the public,” is “very misleading,” and “creates loopholes so big you could drive an armored truck through them.” Berman also stated that Lee had failed to inform himself on past committee analysis that would have helped him avoid flaws in his bill.
The wealth tax bill proposed by Lee did not even receive a hearing due to an Assembly rule that allows committee chairs to block legislation proposals by not bringing them forward for debate. This rule has received scrutiny from both parties, as Republican assembly member James Gallagher received the same treatment on a wildfire prevention bill he proposed, leading him to call the rule, “undemocratic.”
Although Lee’s legislative proposals are extreme and resemble characteristics of socialism, he draws his concern on the extent to which the Democratic majority in the legislature actually values the wellbeing of their constituents. Lee stated that the majority is “going to come to a reckoning point where it’s like, all right, how much do we value political power for political power’s sake versus actually using it to do good for people?”
Photo by Anda Chu/Bay Area News Group