As the nation braces for a new president, California is America’s outland of the outlandishly aggrieved.
A newly appointed state attorney general says he’s willing to take on the Trump administration over grievances real and perceived – illegal immigration, changes to climate policy – with a litigious zeal otherwise reserved for TV asbestos lawyers.
The Legislature wants a requirement that a U.S-Mexico border wall goes up only if California voters approve, an interesting twist on federalism. Lawmakers didn’t stop there. They also want to establish state grants to cover the legal defense of illegal immigrants facing deportation.
California isn’t the only blue-governed state determined to toss marbles in Trump’s path. Some New York City congressmen want The Donald to foot the bill for protecting his Manhattan digs.
But what separates the Golden State is its arrogance, as though we are America’s lone path to enlightenment.
Consider this statement by John Pérez, the former Assembly speaker who wants to replace Rep. Xavier Becerra in Washington once he takes over as attorney general: “In the aftermath of November’s election nationwide, two facts are clearer than ever. The first is that we need to fight harder than ever to protect the progress we’ve made. The second is that California is the one place in the country where Democrats know how to win, and the one place in the country where government is working.”
Hawaii actually was more of a Hillary Clinton stronghold, though not by much. The Aloha State came in at 63 percent for Hillary, a mere percentage point ahead of California.
As for Pérez’s contention that “government is working, where to begin?
There’s Harrison Ford’s view of the world. The recent California Hall of Fame inductee proclaimed: “I was not born here, but unlike some people I’ve paid a lot of taxes here.”
He added, in a bow to Gov. Jerry Brown: “And they’ve mostly been well spent. Thank you.”
The co-star of “Working Girl” might want to check in with working-class Californians to see if they share the same joy in surrendering their earnings to the Franchise Tax Board. Are they pleased with the current return on roads, parks and schools?
Maybe Ford was buoyed by the legislative analyst telling us that the governor and lawmakers can expect a $2.8 billion budget surplus in 2017 and that California is able to weather a mild recession without taking a wrecking ball to state spending programs.
But that doesn’t factor in two wild cards – a deeper recession than expected and Trump’s impact on California’s status quo.
That also takes us back to this state’s aggrieved Democrats. The president-elect could come barreling into California and attempt to round up millions of illegal immigrants, though a more likely scenario, with House Speaker Paul Ryan’s insistence that there will be no deportation force, is a focus on violent criminals. That sounds perfectly reasonable to those living outside the California bubble.
Trump could gut Obamacare and leave California in the lurch. But as The Bee’s Dan Walters has noted, the rural counties with the highest Medi-Cal enrollment rates are represented by GOP congressmen.
As usual, Sacramento’s adult in the room is the governor – the rare Democratic lawmaker willing to utter the seven most sensible words when it comes to anticipating a mercurial Trump: “We’ll just have to wait and see.”
I’m with him. Everyone, please chillax.
Bill Whalen is a Hoover Institution research fellow and former speechwriter for Gov. Pete Wilson. Whalen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.