California Conservatives Stuck in Field of Dreams and Windmills

In the 1989 Kevin Costner movie, the lesson is that “if you build it, they will come.” Waxing nostalgic about the golden age of baseball might be magic for my grandparents—all of whom are deceased—but for the living, it’s a bygone era.

Time and time again we have seen Conservatives invoke the same belief in magic as the Costner character in this movie. A more realistic and therefore cynical view is that, for Conservatives, there is nothing left to believe in except tilting at windmills.


Windmill tilting is nothing new, it has been going on for most of my adult life; especially when it comes to social issues like abortion. I remember when Reagan was President, we thought Roe was one court appointment away from being overturned. Ditto when both Presidents named Bush were in office but it never materialized. Later, we fought the battle for marriage naively believing that our votes actually mattered only to be undone by activist judges as the other two branches of government did nothing. Talk about conversations with the naïve.

All the while we were hoping for the magic silver bullet that would end the controversy and let us go home and live our lives in peace. To this end, people claiming to represent us raked in millions of dollars from the faithful with little or nothing to show. As we learned later—especially in California—many of these causes were pretexts for fundraising campaigns not serious efforts at reform or change. The poster child for this during several campaign cycles was the Capitol Resource Institute (CRI).

CRI was guilty many times of running shadow campaigns parallel with real efforts. Prop 8 to define marriage as between a man and woman was one. CRI raised money they said was to support Prop 8 but they kept the funds, they were never given to the real Prop 8 organization. Instead, CRI put their own people on the payroll of their fake Prop 8 PAC and used up all the money.

In the years following, CRI did this time and again. They created signature gathering efforts for things that never got to the ballot. CRI had no ability to finish what they started in any of these campaigns. They adopted their version of the Costner motto, “if we do it they will come.” The reality was that they hurt the causes for which they postured. Their tilting at windmills backfired and hurt us all in the long run.

I’m picking on CRI because they never had the money to get anything on the ballot let alone fund a statewide campaign to get anything passed.

Historically, it takes about 3 million dollars to qualify a ballot measure and then an additional amount of $15-20 million to run a credible campaign. Back when Republicans ran for governor, the winning campaign was spending more than $50 million.

As a Christian group, CRI seemed really averse to follow Jesus’ advice to count the cost before doing something. Jesus says don’t start something unless you have the resources to finish it. It’s not magic, its common sense.

For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?

Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,

Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.

Luke 14:28-30

Jesus’ story says that to begin something that you know you can’t finish only results in others mocking you for being foolish with your resources; such a person is a dreamer not someone to take seriously.

California Conservatives’ Newest Windmill

So why bring up the past now? Because it’s happening again. Another Conservative effort with no prayer of success is underway which not only can’t succeed, it will embolden the other side to do even more crazy stuff without fear of consequences. Sadly, this is the legacy of CRI and others that tilt at windmills. They have no resources other than convincing the gullible to follow them over the political cliff. Their failure encourages the other side to double down on whatever social evil was the target of their ire.

The newest effort is recalling Governor Gavin Newsom. Yep, they want to take out the Gov. I’m not really sure why. Gavin is doing exactly what he promised and we knew he would do. Nobody is mad enough to dump him except maybe a few of his old girlfriends, yet somehow this brain trust of nuts down in San Diego thinks, if only we can get this on the ballot, people will rise up and rally to the cause.

California Governor and recall target Gavin Newsom

Here’s the details from a July 22, 2019 article:

A physician who twice lost bids for Congress is taking steps to launch a recall drive against Gov. Gavin Newsom, even signing up the treasurer of the successful effort to oust Gov. Gray Davis in 2003.

Dr. James Veltmeyer of La Jolla is using social media and email to collect “proponents” for a notice of intention to circulate a recall petition, said political consultant Andrew Russo on Monday.

“We’re in a process of setting up our committee,” said Russo, who also managed Republican Veltmeyer’s 2018 campaign against Rep. Scott Peters in the 52nd Congressional District. “We should have that by tomorrow.”

James Veltmeyer

But Veltmeyer felt it was time to launch a serious effort, Russo, 54, said in a phone interview. Online petitions are of “no value in something like this.”

On Thursday, Veltmeyer announced a recall website whose FAQ says: “We’ve set a goal of 2 million signatures to ensure we have the required number of valid signatures. We expect our deadline to be approximately February 1, 2020.”

La Jolla Doctor Plots Formal Recall Drive Against Gov. Gavin Newsom

The four gripes against Newsom are these:

  1. Healthcare for illegals
  2. Tax increases
  3. Homelessness
  4. Sanctuary Sate and Cities

A copy of the petition is located here

Ok, now this guy needs 2 million signatures but he doesn’t have enough fundraising ability to successfully run for Congress. I promise you he has no funding for this effort and there is no way, even with paid signature gatherers, that he gets anywhere close to 2 million signatures.

Look at the series of things needing to happen for this recall to be successful and you tell me what the chances are.

You need to collect enough valid signatures to get this recall on the ballot, run a campaign to convince a majority of Democrats and left leaning folks that Gavin–and by extension his Party–are wrong about these policies (which are common values shared by many Californians), then you need voters to pick someone that believes like a Republican, then without any shift in the Democrat supermajorities in both houses of our legislature, get them to voluntarily overturn the policies that they enacted so the new governor can sign them into law.

Veltmeyer has no money for this effort, no candidate that is electable and willing to enact said changes, and no hope the Legislature will be so intimidated by the Governor’s recall that they will unilaterally undo all the policies enacted in these areas and give him what he wants, even if he says, “Pretty please.”

Folks, this is the mother of all windmills but that is what Conservative people have been reduced to in California. Anyone give me odds that Veltmeyer is or was a CRA member?


Tilting at windmills is folly. It makes a mockery of whatever issue or perceived wrong that you are trying to correct as well as making a mockery and an object of scorn out its adherents. It emboldens those you oppose to do more of whatever you campaign against because it shows them that they have no fear of reprisal. Tilting at windmills makes things markedly worse than if you had never acted.