California to Trump: America can’t afford for us to fail

Trump’s policies on immigration, global trade and more would disrupt Silicon Valley and other economic hubs in California.
Trump’s policies on immigration, global trade and more would disrupt Silicon Valley and other economic hubs in California. Associated Press file

The policies of President-elect Donald Trump and his Republican Congress don’t look good for California. On climate change, health care, trade, education, immigration, civil rights and more, he and this state vehemently disagree.

We view global warming as an existential threat to the planet. He has called climate change a hoax invented by the Chinese.

Last week, he reportedly put his Environmental Protection Agency transition team in the hands of Myron Ebell, a known climate skeptic. Contenders for interior secretary are said to include Sarah “Drill, Baby, Drill” Palin and Forrest Lucas, the 74-year-old founder of Corona-based Lucas Oil.

We were early adopters of the Affordable Care Act. Four million Californians are insured by Medi-Cal under the law’s expanded eligibility provisions and another 1.2 million are insured by the state exchange, Covered California. Republicans in Congress have vowed to repeal Obamacare and Trump has called it a “catastrophe,” though he suggested in interviews Friday that he might be open to keeping portions of the law.

We have embraced globalism. California’s $174 billion in exports last year led the nation. Millions of immigrants work here in tech, agriculture, construction and other sectors, fueling the world’s sixth-largest economic engine.

Trump wants to scrap free trade commitments in ways that would slam supply chains and markets from Silicon Valley to the Central Valley. And he has vowed to begin locking up or deporting as many as 11 million undocumented immigrants, of whom about 2.4 million live and work in California.

Here, teachers unions are powerful advocates for public education. Trump has promised a massive federal school voucher program and a far-right U.S. Supreme Court nominee that will almost certainly tip the bench toward gutting union dues.

Out of enlightened self-interest and human decency, we look out for the undocumented. We have extended them eligibility for health care, knowing that contagious diseases spread with or without citizenship papers, and have given their children access to in-state tuition and college financial aid, knowing the value of education to our society.

Trump has exhibited zero understanding of the role immigrants play in California’s economic infrastructure. Indeed, he was elected on a promise to “build a wall” on the Mexican border. His transition team includes Kansas’ anti-immigrant Secretary of State Kris Kobach, architect of Arizona’s 2010 “show me your papers” law, which, until courts rolled it back, gave police the right to detain and demand proof of citizenship from anyone with brown skin.

He has threatened to cut off federal funding for “sanctuary cities” such as San Francisco and vowed to kill the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which currently protects hundreds of thousands of young undocumented Californians, brought here as children, from deportation.

And the list goes on.

Though it is unclear how far Trump will go – some recent statements imply his more extreme pledges may be more like negotiating postures – it is reasonable to assume he meant at least some of what he promised during the campaign. When it comes to damaging California, however, he should think twice – and leave well enough alone.

The rest of the country depends heavily on this state succeeding. Our economy is bigger than France’s; roughly one-seventh of the nation’s gross domestic product comes out of California.

Businesses fairly complain about the state’s taxes and environmental restrictions, and rural types get annoyed with the cities’ liberal elites and political correctness.

But Google didn’t come out of Topeka. Social tolerance and the amenities those tax dollars buy – good infrastructure, clean beaches, great public universities, available health care – underpin the state’s brand and make it a magnet for innovation and creative minds.

Last week, Gov. Jerry Brown promised to stand firm on this state’s values while searching for common ground with the Trump administration. “With the deep divisions in our country, it is incumbent on all of us – especially the new leadership in Washington – to take steps that heal those divisions,” he said.

Trump does need to reach out, too, and not just to the crackpots who glommed onto him during the campaign. Clinton may have gotten the majority of votes here on Tuesday, but his largest delegation at the Republican National Convention came out of California.

He should heed the counsel of experienced hands such as former California Gov. Pete Wilson. And smart West Coast conservatives including San Francisco attorney Dan Kolkey, who has advised four governors, should be among those considered for administration positions.

If there is one thing in this country that’s too big to fail, it’s California. Trump needs to get that. If we falter, the national economy will go down with us. And all the red state promises in the world won’t put it back together again.