Throughout its history, California has stood as a beacon of opportunity and a paragon of cultural influence. The state once symbolized the dreams and desires of millions of Americans and migrants around the world. But even as ill-considered public policies hurt its economy and drive people away, the Golden State hasn’t lost its power to set society-wide trends. Lawmakers and advocates in the state have fashioned a new “California model”—a cultural politics oriented around group-based patronage schemes, radical race and gender ideologies, and tolerance of antisocial behavior. Is California’s vision set to go national? And what would that mean for the United States?
On March 9, the City Journal editor Brian Anderson moderated a panel discussion and featured two authors from City Journal’s new special issue, “Can California Be Golden Again?” Christopher Rufo talked about the state’s identitarian agenda in public institutions, including a new ethnic-studies curriculum whose excesses he’s chronicled at length, and how to fight back against it. Abigail Shrier addressed how the state’s policies, including the decriminalization of prostitution, are harming young women, and, as her groundbreaking reporting in City Journal reveals, turning the Golden State into the wrong kind of sanctuary.