Newsletter: RIP Republican Orange County

Democratic candidate Harley Rouda, who leads longtime incumbent Republican Dana Rohrabacher, waves to supporters on election night at the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel.
Democratic candidate Harley Rouda, who leads longtime incumbent Republican Dana Rohrabacher, waves to supporters on election night at the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel.
(Eugene Garcia / EPA/Shutterstock)

Good morning. I’m Paul Thornton, and it is Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. At least two major fires are burning close to each other in Southern California; click here for updates from the Ventura County Fire Department. Let’s take a look back at the week in Opinion.

The Democrats picking up at least 30 seats in the House might not seem like much of a wave election, but consider this: Orange County, which as recently as 2004 provided President George W. Bush his biggest margin in raw votes, may end up just 15 years later with most of its representatives in Congress as Democrats.

Not all the ballots in Orange County have been counted, and there’s still a chance that Republicans could keep a few congressional districts red until the next election. But columnist Gustavo Arellano, who’s just about as O.C. liberal as they come, thinks the old conservative stronghold is dead enough to merit an obituary:

While the election results won’t be final, possibly for days, by Wednesday morning it seemed likely that Democrats could represent five of of the seven congressional districts that are are entirely or partially in the county — a once-unthinkable prospect in the land that spawned the modern-day GOP.

The death shocked everyone who hadn’t bothered to pay attention for decades. County boosters and leaders had desperately tried to mask its failing health with a series of anti-immigrant resolutions, orange-shaped balloons at Great Park, and a string of increasingly vapid reality TV series. But as the years went on, the Orange County of old gradually succumbed to a new generation of working-class unions, multicultural youngsters and middle-class voters who just didn’t care about demonizing the downtrodden, except for the homeless....

The GOP still dominates local politics, and the county’s median household income of $90,000 remains $25,000 higher than the state’s. But in the current decade, a new generation of Latino activists successfully sued O.C. cities to implement district elections, and has begun to get more minorities elected. And those few millennials who could afford to stay in their parents’ paradise increasingly voted for Democrats — and frequently visited evil, evil L.A.

The rest of the nation finally noticed the new Orange County during the 2016 presidential election, when Hillary Clinton garnered more votes than Donald Trump — the first time O.C. went for a Democrat in 80 years. Liberals pounced on the breakthrough with millions of dollars in donations to local Democrats, an invigorated volunteer base, and a slew of first-time candidates.

Trumpism is wounded but not dead — far from it, in fact. No matter how Trump tries to spin the election as a referendum on a presidency that he won — he didn’t, as The Times Editorial Board makes clear — his brand of politics comes out of Tuesday’s election less appealing than it once was. But, warns the editorial board, it’s still the dominant force in American politics.

Jeff Sessions got his pink slip; Congress should make sure Robert Mueller doesn’t. Trump finally put him out of his misery, and typically an attorney general being replaced at the midpoint of a presidential term does not raise concerns. But the appointment of temporary replacement who has criticized the Mueller investigation should start setting off alarms. L.A. Times

The president is a deviant and a delinquent — not my words, but those of Trump biographer Michael D’Antonio, who goes all the way back to the president’s earliest years to predict how he might behave toward the Mueller probe without the protection of both houses of Congress. L.A. Times

This California billionaire wants Democrats to impeach Trump. Tom Steyer, a hedge fund founder turned climate and anti-Trump activist, writes that structural advantages gerrymandered into the electoral map might obscure the fact that the voters who empowered Democrats this election want Congress to rein in the president’s lawlessness — and the way to do that is through impeachment. New York Times

Americans are at war with themselves, and the latest battlefield is in Thousand Oaks, says The Times Editorial Board: “Is that what Americans want? Are we willing to let the bodies stack up on the principle that we all need our own personal arsenals to fight the bogeyman of tyranny? Have we been outgunned by a heartless adversary that cares more about cold steel than warm, beating hearts?” L.A. Times

The freakout over RBG’s ribcage shows why we might need fixed judicial terms. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, whose steadily beating heart is of grave interest to millions of progressives, took a nasty fall this week that landed her in the ER with multiple broken ribs. Of primary concern was not her personal comfort and health, but her vote on the Supreme Court, which touched off a discussion on whether she should have retired under President Obama. L.A. Times