Commentary: California's still ahead of the curve

It's just a little over five years since "Lexington," the pseudonymous American columnist in the respected British journal The Economist, dismissed California as "the left out coast."

"California," he wrote in April 2003, "has always prided itself on getting to the future first – on pioneering the suburban affluence of the 1950s, the tax-cutting revolution of the 1970s and the high-tech boom of the 1990s. So consider a horrible possibility: that now it is the 'new America' in the West that just doesn't 'get it' … and the 'old America' in the East that is grappling with the future.

"Ever since September 11th, Californians have been out of the American loop, flummoxed by the war on terrorism and locked into a pre-September 11th mindset. Far from pioneering the future, the Californian upper crust seems stuck in the 1990s, maybe even the 1960s."

Although Lexington echoed some other conservatives in the early years of the Bush era, it was always a wacky idea. California was too liberal, was the rap, too Democratic, had too many minorities, too many gays, was too obsessed with the environment – was, in the end, simply not a serious enough place in an age of terrorism and clashing cultures.

Last week's election should have, as the Brits like to say, "put paid" to all that. America long ago started to catch up with California's doubts about the war in Iraq, about the Bush presidency, even, albeit slowly, with the prospect that, like California today, America itself will in another forty years have a majority-minority population.

To read the complete column, visit The Sacramento Bee.