"As California Goes, So Goes the Nation."
Evidently, the two sides of the United States’ political divide have utilized the opportunity to accentuate the manner through which California is different from the rest of the nation. For years, Americans have recognized California as the Golden State, maintaining that it was initially a distant and dreamy land, then as a cultural shaper and as a promised land for millions and millions of Americans and immigrants. While it remains to be America’s most populated state, attributed to a great success story, there are many areas where it has failed to live up to its promise. Notably, California is a demographic giant, an aspect implying that its respective issues correlate with those of the entire nation. The history of California is characterized by a constant change, owing its preeminence to its natural advantages such as the vast geographic area and pleasant climate and to human ingenuity. In this respect, it is imperative to note that its proximity to Mexico has forced the State to continue experiencing unprecedented population growth by Latinos who highly contribute to the ever-changing nature of California society, its politics and culture. It is unfortunate to note that, currently, spiteful characterizations of immigrants together with draconian plans for their marginalization have been drifted by diverse political figures to a startlingly receptive public; an aspect linked to the California Proposition 187. Aptly, this essay will explore the sociological imagination analysis of race and ethnic issue in California and the national immigration issue by covering the following paradigms: structural functionalism, symbolic interaction and social conflict perspective.
Whilst California remains to be the 31st state to be admitted to the US on 9/9/1850, as of December 2018, forty-five individuals have managed to represent California in the US Senate. The current California U.S Senate members are Dianne Feinstein and Kamala D. Harris, both from the Democratic Party. Again, while there are currently four-hundred and thirty-five representatives; a number that has been fixed by law since 1911, California has fifty-three representatives (Coleman, 2015). Even though today’s politics of the US state of California remains to be intricate and that it involves numerous entrenched interests, the two major parties in California that have representation in both the State Legislature and the US Congress includeThe Democratic Party and the Republican Party. These two parties are recognized in several states. The other minor parties recognized in more than ten states include Libertarian Party, Green Party,and the Constitution Party. In total, there were at least thirty-two different ballot-qualified political parties by May 2018; and 230 state-level parties (Maxon & Alberts, 2018).
The US House of Representatives has the responsibility to make and pass federal laws as per the Constitution. Thus, the voting representatives’ number in the House is fixed by law at no more than 35, equivalently representing the fifty states’ population (Maxon & Alberts, 2018). The United States portrays the best example of a representative government as it exercises a system of governance whereby every eligible citizen can vote on representatives so as to pass laws on their behalf. It is an American aspect of electing the president, Congress members and even local and state officials. Consequently, the American government has diverse roles to play for the benefit of its citizens and even non-citizens. One of the simplest justification for the American government is protecting its people from violence. Again, it is entitled to provide the Americans with goods as well as services that people may not be able to afford; this may be facilitated by stabilizing the economic infrastructure so as to provide a social security (Minhas & Walsh, 2018).
For years, there has been a significant debate amongst sociologists concerning the nature of politics, power and most importantly the role played by the state in the society. Arguably, the nature of power and the state is clearly portrayed during eras of political exceptionalism compared to times of peace/agreement (Verkuyten, 2018). It is within these time parameters when the normal structures of the political practice and behavior are unsettled via revolution, law suspension, states’ failure, wars,and conflicts or counter-insurgency; that the fundamental relationship foundation amid the political and the social, or else the state and the society may be revealed and rethought. In this regard, sociologists observe society in diverse ways; through the evident intergroup relations, some view the society as a stable and unending entity. Others perceive society as an entity comprised of numerous groups in conflict who are competing for scarce resources; a conflict that may render some individuals or groups to a stigmatization that will block their access to the societal values (Coleman, 2015).
Looking deep at California politics, ethnicity and neighborhoods, it is indisputable to consent that immigration has really changed the ethnic landscape in this state. Since 1965, the Latino and Asian populations have rapidly elevated in California. Historically, fast transition in the ethnic composition of this state’s society has engendered competition as well as conflict among groups; basically implying that the present demographic transitions may develop novel tensions within ethnic group relations (Minhas & Walsh, 2018). Altogether, the nature of these associations and tensions are complicated by California’s population diversity. While California assumes a ‘majority-minority’ state, political competition within the minority groups remains common; a development that has stirred controversies and intricate policy debates on numerous ethnic issues such as whether and how the American government will apply ethnicity as a principle for public benefits’ distribution.
Substantially, a survey was conducted prior to the vote on Proposition 209, that prohibited ethnic preferences use by public agencies in California, with the intention of probing the connection between ethnic context and the racial attitudes together with voting behavior of the whites, Hispanics/Latinos, African-Americans,and Asians. According to this survey, the whites were likely to state that their ethnicity/race was a significant factor in their political identity compared to the other three groups. Moreover, they were more likely to support Proposition 209 and Proposition 187 that denied all government services to illegal immigrants, alongside regarding affirmative action measures as unfair and pointless (Verkuyten, 2018). Fortunately, the four groups portrayed a consensus on several ethnic issues: they were neutral or positive concerning different groups’ members settling in their neighborhoods and agreed on the egalitarian merit and non-discrimination principles as the key criteria for educational opportunity alongside job promotion. While it may be noted that realism instead of prejudice can underlie the belief that it is easier to socialize with people of the same background, applying the theories of intergroup associations and this issue to the different subordinate groups will be quite imperative.
Adequately, the California issue of race and ethnicity, together with the national issue of immigration facing the United States, can be observed through the three main sociological perspectives: functionalism and conflict theory alongside symbolic interactionism. On functionalism view, it is suggested that racial and ethnic disparities consisted of significant roles so as to exist for that long (Schuck, 2018). In fact, this concept remains to be highly problematic as one will wonder how this issue contributed positively to society. According to the proponents of this view, racism,and discrimination contribute positively, though only to the dominant group. In this sense, holding racist views has the potential to benefit the group that wants to deny rights and privileges to the group they view as inferior, yet, over time, this issue harms the society (Hui & Sears, 2018). The results of race-based disenfranchisement like poverty levels, crimes, employment and educational discrepancies as laid in the Proposition 187, demonstrate long-term and negative effects of racism in Californian society, just like with the national issue case of immigration.