Steve highlighted a NYT article on the increasing acceptance of illegal immigration in the state of California over the last couple of decades. That acceptance was coerced of course, as Californians peaceably tried, through the democratic process, to halt the transformation of their state by supporting proposition 187 in 1994 only to have it subsequently ruled unconstitutional in federal court. Thus the transformation continued, the most conspicuous consequence being that the golden state--which voted for Bush 41 in 1988--has become a permanent Democratic stronghold, one in which no Republican presidential candidate would dream of wasting time campaigning in.
I wondered how else the state's profile had changed relative to the rest of the country over the same period of time, so I dug up data on three conventional quality-of-life measures: Obesity rates, NAEP scores, and poverty rates. Diversity being strength, presumably things should be getting better for California on these measures!
On the fat front, indeed they are (or more accurately, corpulence isn't increasingly as rapidly in California as it is in the rest of the country)--in 1991, California was tied for the 10th slimmest 'state' (including DC) out of the 48 for which there were data. By 2011, it had upped its rep count to 6th slimmest of the same 48. Middle class white flight might have something to do with this, as native Californians who've remained have better SWPL credentials than the ones who've left do. Whatever the reasons, Cali continues to be as health-conscious as ever.
When it comes to scholastic achievement, though, things don't look so swole. Among 8th graders taking the math section of the NAEP in 1990, California's kids came in tied for 29th of 38 states. By 2011, they just had the Deep South and DC between them and the bottom of the barrel, coming in tied for 34th of the same 38 states. Alabama's motto is still "Thank God for Mississippi", but that may well soon change to "Thank God for California".
Twenty years ago, California's economic situation mirrored that of the nation as a whole. The state ranked 27th of 51 in the percentage of its population that was impoverished (the lower the ranking, the higher the poverty rate). Today, it's 35th of 51.
Healthier, intellectually incurious, and poorer--yep, that seems to capture the nation's contemporary transitioning, from sea to shining sea.