There’s been no shortage of attention to the wave of recent laws in Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and elsewhere that have ordered police to check detainees for proof of legal residence, required school officials to check the legality of students’ immigration status and prohibited employers from hiring undocumented aliens and landlords from renting to them. According to the conventional wisdom, it’s Washington that’s ultimately responsible for these draconian laws: The federal government forced local government’s hand by failing to address comprehensive immigration reform.
Since Obama’s election in 2008, he has paid only lip service to devising a fair and humane approach towards the issue of immigration. Deportations have gone up and only token gestures of support have been lent to the idea of comprehensive reform.
This year's Republican sweep, says the conventional wisdom, stopped at the Sierras in large part because California—the “left-out coast”—is a liberal outlier from the rest of the country. In this telling, the Golden State is a broken relic, a basket-case which has lost its status as the vanguard of American politics.