For #TheResistance, California will be the center of gravity - and prologue
In 2016, Hillary Clinton outperformed President Obama's vote totals in California, not just from 2012 but from 2008. Eight years ago, on the way to his crushing victory for the White House, Barack Obama got 8,274,473 votes in California to John McCain's just over 5 million. Over half a million ballots still remain to be counted in our state, and Hillary Clinton has already shot past Obama's totals. She currently stands at 8,577,206 votes to Donald Trump's pathetic 4.4 million. In other words, our state has provided Hillary Clinton's entire net popular vote margin and then some. No wonder Trumpistas are whining that California really shouldn't count, and Trump himself is throwing lying tantrums about our state.
The nation's most populous, and now most liberal - not only did Hillary Clinton crush President Pussygrabber by a 2:1 margin here, California has no Republican statewide officeholder, and the 2016 election has given Democrats back two-thirds majorities in both houses of the legislature - state is in no mood for bowing to Donald Trump. The morning after the election, the leaders of California's Assembly and Senate fired a joint shot across the bow of the incoming Trump administration vowing to protect our values from federal onslaught.
Today, we woke up feeling like strangers in a foreign land, because yesterday Americans expressed their views on a pluralistic and democratic society that are clearly inconsistent with the values of the people of California.
We have never been more proud to be Californians.
By a margin in the millions, Californians overwhelmingly rejected politics fueled by resentment, bigotry, and misogyny.
The largest state of the union and the strongest driver of our nation’s economy has shown it has its surest conscience as well.
Quite a warning considering that California is not just America's largest economy but the world's 6th largest. The statement goes on to say that Trump values will not be welcome in California, but those beginning paragraphs defined a set of core principles for the resistance:
- We do not recognize Donald Trump's America, and this recognition is not just in the meaning of being able to identify it. We do not recognize it, as in we reject its legitimacy. On January 20, California will be a nation within a nation.
- California is willing to use its considerable economic, innovative and political power to stand up to a Trump government in DC. Ironically for Trump, who's been using the US's position as the largest economy to threaten a community of nations, America's largest economy is warning him.
Leaders and institutions in California have been coming forward since this statement to echo it. "We fight!" was the battlecry from California Attorney Genera and Senator-elect (first African American Senator from CA, first Indo-American senator ever) Kamala Harris. If Gov. Brown's statement in the immediate aftermath of the election in support for Californians' rights and combating climate change was somewhat muted by an accompanying pledge to find common ground, he made it clear that California is ready to fight with the appointment of Xavier Becerra to be Attorney General of our state, the position Harris is vacating. Becerra will be the first Latino Attorney General of California, stands in stark contrast against the white supremacist Trump picked to be the US Attorney General and has already assumed battle position against Trump.
But state government leaders aren't the only ones lining up to take on Donald Trump's dark vision for our country. On Thursday, Janet Nepalitano, President of the prestigious University of California system, declared that UCs will protect undocumented students in the state. The California State University system has made the same pledge, along with schools from across the state. Mayors from Los Angeles to Oakland to San Francisco and San Jose, just to name a few, have all vowed to stick a middle finger in Donald Trump's eye and remain sanctuary cities.
But defiance is only the first step to resistance. Will California be able to anything more than protecting in-state abortion access and civil rights protections? If so, how?
It can. First of all, because of our size and the resources we can marshal, we can fill in lots of gaps for our residents. This is where having that two-thirds majority in the state legislature is important. With a supermajority in both houses of the legislature, Democrats can now raise taxes and put ballot measures up for votes with no input from Republicans. Donald Trump wants to gut Obamacare subsidies and repeal the taxes associated with it? California can turn right around, claw those taxes back (and structure it more progressively if they wish), and keep Covered California, the state's Obamacare marketplace, funded - or design a new structure. Republicans want to defund schools and pass a big tax cut for the rich? California can once again claw back that revenue in the form of taxes and put up a ballot initiative to use it to fund our schools.
California voters, just in 2016, have shown pretty huge propensity to tax the rich and invest tax dollars for the public good. Notably, the only significant initiative that failed at the state level was a Bernie Sanders-backed badly written prescription drug measure.
Second, because of California's strategically important tech and entertainment industries, our state is uniquely positioned to fight the battles the federal government won't. Much the same way New York's state laws and its state law enforcement is empowered to prosecute financial crimes by the virtue of its location, California can take important steps to protect net neutrality, clean energy innovation, and art. Google (the owner of YouTube) is 40% of Internet traffic globally. Netflix claims almost as large a share of the pie in north America. Facebook is everyone's face. Twitter is Donald Trump's communication platform of choice. Guess where all these companies are headquartered.
Auto manufacturers and the US Chamber of Commerce lost trying to strip California's right to set its own emission standards in 2011, and the following year, our state adopted even more sweeping standards, much to the chagrin of Fox News. 13 states and the District of Columbia already have their state standards pegged to California's emission standards. We have been enforcing our own Cap and Trade initiative since 2013. And California's massive investment in renewable energy production has brought down prices for cleanly generated electricity so much that our commie socialist state - joined with a few other states and countries - can use the market to put coal out of business.
Another strength is California's personnel. Nepalitano, the UC president, is also the former head of Homeland Security and the former governor of a border state (Arizona). Suffice it to say she knows how to take on the federal bureaucracy. Becerra, the incoming Attorney General of the state has spent 24 years in Congress, and he too has some chips he can call in.
But California's role is not important simply because our state, with great pride, is looking to become resistance central against the popularly illegitimate future occupant of the White House due to our geographic, demographic, political, innovative and economic might. Our role is also as prologue, to provide the historical parallel no one is talking about.
Proposition 187. Exactly 24 years ago to the day of of this year's fateful election, on November 8, 1994, in another successful Republican year, California voters passed Prop 187, banning any public benefit from being available to undocumented immigrants and requiring local agencies to report "suspected illegals" (remind you of something?) to the state Attorney General. The proposition passed with almost 60% of the vote, though due to court challenges it was never implemented.
The public victory of the anti-immigrant crowd in California turned out to be pyrrhic for the California Republican Party. The state's then Republican governor, Pete Wilson, re-elected on that ballot, would be the last governor of California elected with support for the initiative. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who supported the initiative in 1994, called his support a mistake in 2006. Latino voters, and Californians as a whole, hollowed out the state's GOP as punishment for their bigotry.
Though legally invalidated, the ghost of Prop 187 haunts California Republicans to this day. California officially became a majority minority state with the 2000 census, and the party of Jim Crow and Prop 187 never got another serious chance.
Consider that Donald Trump seems to have barely squeeked by even this year while turning out huge margins among rural whites in key states while Hillary Clinton has badly beaten him in the national popular vote by winning fewer counties than Al Gore. Children under 5 are already majority minority in this country, and in little more than a generation, the entire country will be.
Proposition 187 passed by a big margin with a big celebrations. Donald Trump won a surprise electoral college victory. Let there be no doubt that the damage he and a unified Republican Congress will cause will be severe. But just as with the passage of 187, Trump's ascension to the White House too will be seen as a watershed moment when the country begins the work of beating this evil. As with Prop 187, sometimes we have to witness evil in real form to confront evil.
This time, California will lead. Come, lock arms with us.
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