As Donald Trump visited California on Tuesday for the first time as president, he limited his view to what serves his agenda – a border crossing in San Diego to inspect prototypes for his proposed wall, Marine Corps Air Station Miramar to speak to service members, and a private home in Beverly Hills for a $35,000-per-person fundraiser.
If only the president and the nation could see the real California. They’d see a state that drives much of the U.S. economy, with diverse and dynamic people leading the way into America’s future.
Alas, Trump prefers his Fox News bubble. Heaven forbid he learn anything that might challenge his preconceptions. It’s telling that his longest stop is scheduled to be in the company of wealthy Republican donors. His schedule didn’t include meetings with any elected officials, even fellow Republicans. He also sought to avoid protestors, who greeted Trump from the moment he landed in California.
Gov. Jerry Brown tweeted a letter to Trump on Monday, noting what other presidents had done on their visits and inviting Trump to come see the high-speed rail project in the Central Valley. California is “focusing on bridges, not walls,” the governor wrote.
“Our prosperity is not built on isolation,” Brown added. “Quite the opposite. California thrives because we welcome immigrants and innovators from across the globe.”
Not surprisingly, Trump didn’t RSVP, given the war of words over immigration.
Last week, the Trump administration sued California over its sanctuary laws and Brown responded that the feds had declared war on the state. Monday, the administration went as far as to accuse California’s laws, bizarrely, of bankrolling human trafficking rings. And on Tuesday, California Democrats in Congress sent a letter to Trump raising concerns about immigration raids and threats against state officials.
While on his border visit Tuesday, Trump railed against sanctuary cities and criticized Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf for warning residents about an immigration raid. And while looking at eight wall prototypes and talking to Border Patrol agents, he repeated some inane and idiotic assertions.
“If you don’t have a wall system, you’re not going to have a country,” he said, though we seem to have been doing all right for 242 years.
He again said he prefers a “see-through” wall so agents can look at what’s on the other side, even though they have drones and electronic surveillance. And he said the wall has to be made very difficult to scale because undocumented immigrants are like “professional mountain climbers.”
With comments like that, a real and fair solution to immigration seems far, far away.
Trump also didn’t miss a chance to trash Brown. He called him a “nice guy” but said he’s “doing a terrible job” as governor. And Trump bashed California, insisting it is out of control and has high taxes.
He’s a sore loser, having complained that votes by non-citizens in California cost him the popular vote majority in 2016. He barely hit 31 percent against Hillary Clinton, his approval rating hasn’t improved since and California has emerged as a center of the resistance to his presidency.
If Trump could rise above politics and let go of grudges, he just might see how important California is to the success of his presidency and to America’s prosperity. But that would mean looking at the bigger picture, and acknowledging the America he doesn’t want to see.