Analysis

California vs. Trump bout shaping up

Pro- and anti-Trump demonstrators clash at a May 27 rally in San Diego. (Photo: Chad Zuber)

Any hope that California would soon settle into some sort of accommodation with a Trump Administration is fading rapidly.

During the past two weeks, this happened:

President-elect Donald Trump named Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt as his choice to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the federal enforcer of rules governing clean air, clean water, toxics cleanup and other chores. The choice of Pruitt, an energy industry supporter who is skeptical of the impacts of climate change and has sued the EPA over the years, sparked outrage from environmentalists across the country, especially in California.

Becerra, the son of Mexican immigrants, has denounced Trump for “outrageously offensive” utterances on the character of Mexicans. He is already being dubbed the public face, along with Brown, of California Democratic opposition

In California, viewed internationally as a leader of efforts to curb greenhouse gases that form the cornerstone of Gov. Jerry Brown’s political program, the administration was not pleased.

“Next commander-in-chief picks climate change denier-in-chief to lead @EPA. We’ll stand our ground. CA’s ready. #ActOnClimate,” tweeted Brown chief of staff Nancy McFadden on Dec. 7.

“If Trump were ever elected, we’d have to build a wall around California to defend ourselves from the rest of this country,” Brown told labor organizers at a spring dinner in Sacramento, the Sacramento Bee reported. “By the way that is a joke. We don’t like walls, we like bridges.”

Brown nominated Xavier Becerra, the fourth most powerful Democrat in the House, the House’s ranking Latino and no fan of Donald Trump, to be California attorney general, one of the most powerful and visible posts in state government.

Becerra, the son of Mexican immigrants, has denounced Trump for “outrageously offensive” utterances on the character of Mexicans. He is already being dubbed the public face, along with Brown, of California Democratic opposition to Trump on a number of highly visible issues dear to California Democrats — immigration, climate change and health care. 

As attorney general, Becerra would be the central figure in legal battles against Trump Administration attempts to undo California actions on those issues.

“The state’s pro-worker positions, mandating higher wages and decent benefits for millions of Californians, may be eroded in the long run by what’s sure to be Trump’s war on unions.” — Harold Meyerson.

Then, about 100 UC Davis medical students held a “code blue” rally on the on the Sacramento medical campus to dramatize their fears for about how health care in California would fare under Trump. “Code Blue” is physician jargon for a medical emergency. Students said they are worried about what might happen to patients if Trump follows through on his campaign call to repeal Obamacare.

They may be right to worry: Yanking federal funding from Covered California, the state’s version of Obamacare, could leave the state with an $18 billion fiscal crisis and leave millions of people without health coverage.

“Neither Obamacare, much less the ability of California residents here illegally to buy into it, are likely to survive. Sanctuary cities may be threatened with a loss of federal funds,” Harold Meyerson, the executive director of the American Prospect, wrote shortly after the election in the L.A Times opinion section.

“The state’s pro-worker positions, mandating higher wages and decent benefits for millions of Californians, may be eroded in the long run by what’s sure to be Trump’s war on unions,” he wrote.

Recently, a group of AIDS activists, survivors and relatives of AIDS victims rallied in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park to observe the 23rd annual World AIDS Day.  Speakers expressed fear of what might happen in the fight against the virus under Trump.

“It appears that Mr. Trump is troubled by the fact that a growing majority of Americans did not vote for him. His unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud in California and elsewhere are absurd.” — Secretary of State Alex Padilla.

 Yet another round of California vs. The Donald got underway when a Trump tweet set off statewide indignation among California officials in charge of running elections.

Trump declared that he had been cheated in California tweeting “I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” He alleged “serious voter fraud in Virginia, New Hampshire and California.”

But to many, the allegation seemed bewildering: Trump was declaring that there has been voter fraud in the same election that will put him in the White House as of January 20.

Trump appeared stung by the fact that the official vote count across the nation was showing that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote — 2.8 million votes and counting, as of Monday, Dec. 12, even while she lost in the Electoral College.

Trump also tweeted a blast against the news media: “Serious voter fraud in Virginia, New Hampshire and California – so why isn’t the media reporting on this? Serious bias – big problem!”

In a written statement, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, the state’s top election official, had a quick response:

“It appears that Mr. Trump is troubled by the fact that a growing majority of Americans did not vote for him. His unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud in California and elsewhere are absurd. His reckless tweets are inappropriate and unbecoming of a President-elect.” 

Jason Miller, a Trump spokesman, cited a report from the Pew Charitable Trust as evidence of voter chicanery.  But the report referenced by Miller focused on invalid voter registrations, not votes or voter fraud.

Dean Logan, registrar of voters in Los Angeles County and president of the statewide association of elections officials, echoed Padilla’s indignation.

“Broad-brush allegations of voter fraud and illegal voting serve only to undermine the public’s trust and confidence in the elections process and run the risk of further deflating voter participation,” he told the Los Angeles Times.

Trump offered no evidence to back up his allegations.

The Trump ascendancy also poses a neat problem in political science theorizing, nowhere better illustrated than blue California. 

Traditionally, liberals have favored a strong federal government able to keep errant states in line.  (Read: civil rights and the South.)  Republicans like to talk about “states’ rights.”  Now, however, liberals are talking states’ rights when it comes to sanctuary cities and marijuana legalization.  Republicans, not so much.

Jason Miller, a Trump spokesman, cited an earlier report from the Pew Charitable Trust as evidence of voter chicanery.  But the report referenced by Miller focused on invalid voter registrations, not votes or voter fraud.

The report “found millions of out of date registration records due to people moving or dying, but found no evidence that voter fraud resulted,” tweeted David Becker, a former director of election initiatives at the Pew Charitable Trusts and the primary author of the 2012 Pew report.

There may have been interference in the presidential election, but not the kind Trump believes. On Dec. 9, the Washington Post reported that the consensus, secret view of CIA analysts was that Russian hackers had used stealthy, online tools to help tip the election to Trump. Trump called that “ridiculous.”

One member of the Republican National Committee who didn’t want to be identified has come up with his own Machiavellian theory for Trump’s behavior:  He speculated that Trump minimized the headlines about recounts in Wisconsin and possibly other states by coming up with a headline-grabbing gambit of his own — a declaration that there was widespread voter fraud on Nov. 8.

“Trump is several chess moves ahead,” he told the Huffington Post.

 


  • San Bernardino Nick

    Wow, did the author miss that the Wisconsin recount boosted Trumps victory there and that a Federal judge threw out the recount in Pennsylvania. Hmmm.

  • Hospital Man

    California will lead the pack of a lot of states that are in a panic that there is the potential that the free money tree out of DC will come to a screeching halt. The nation is so broke, that Calpers is just one small microcosm of the deficit spending mess that the Republic is now in. The large Democratically governed states, and the US Government, have large debts in common. There is a day of reckoning coming and the sooner we get serious about this the better.

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