Only one year has passed since Donald Trump was sworn into office and yet since then the partisan, sophomoric, and antagonistic government in Washington under his control has targeted California time after time. It is no doubt that this thinned-skinned, infantile president does not feel threatened by California – his path to reelection does not involve winning our 55 electoral votes.
Instead, the president’s personal agenda against California began when our state overwhelmingly voted to elect Hillary Clinton in the past election. Donald Trump won the electoral college and that technicality is all that matters, yet his loss of the popular vote (thanks to California) left him without a moral victory over Clinton, and the ability to gloat from the Oval Office.
Since then he and his Administration have been targeting California.
On January 25, 2017 the president signed an executive order to start construction of a border wall, expand authority to deport undocumented immigrants, and punish “sanctuary cities”, a creation of California culture dating back to the 1970s. Berkeley enacted the first “sanctuary city” policy in the United States back in 1971 to protect servicemen and women opposed to the war in Vietnam, and the City of Los Angeles has had a “sanctuary city” policy specifically regarding immigration status since 1979.
Then on February 6, 2017 the sitting American president in an interview with Bill O’Reilly said on national television that “California is in many ways out of control,” referring to our states’ sanctuary cities. Regardless of one’s position on sanctuary cities, immigration enforcement is a service we pay for with our federal tax dollars, so the federal government has no right to compel us to spend local and state tax dollars and resources on top of that. Yet the president’s executive order from January 25 aimed to do just that, by giving power to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the Homeland Security secretary to withhold grant money from places like California that refuse to cooperate.
Later on June 1, 2017 the president announced that the United States would no longer participate in the 2015 Paris Climate Accords, just weeks before the onset of one of the most destructive wildfire seasons in California history. One can’t blame a government for not foreseeing the devastation of wildfires yet to spark, but California has been feeling the effects of climate change for years now. The president said the Climate Accords would put the U.S. economy at a disadvantage but the truth is that California’s economy has grown despite its restrictive environmental regulations. Our per-capita GDP grew by almost double the national average since Sacramento passed cap-and-trade and now California is the most energy-productive economy in the world.
On October 25, 2017 the president withdrew the federal government’s support for California’s major, $16 billion water tunnel project supported by Governor Brown. The project is a state-funded initiative but would require approval from the federal Department of the Interior, as it intersects with existing federal water projects. However, the Trump Administration has “ruled out” moving forward on this project.
On December 12, 2017 the Trump Justice Department penned a letter to the U.S. Census Bureau requesting they add a citizenship question to the upcoming 2020 Census. Politico Reporter David Siders wrote that this was “Trump’s revenge on California,” explaining that the type of question the president wants added to the next Census could affect the population tally and cost California a seat in the House of Representatives (and therefore a vote in the Electoral College), and billions of dollars in federal funding. As if California isn’t underrepresented as it is.
On December 22, 2017 the president signed his signature tax cuts legislation into law. In order to pay for the tax cuts, Congress voted to repeal a number of deductions. One of such deductions was the state and local tax deduction that disproportionately benefited Californians who pay more in state and local taxes than just about anyone else in the country.
And then on January 4, 2018 Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced his intention to start cracking down on legalized marijuana just three days after California’s voter-approved Proposition 64 took full effect on January 1, allowing for the sale and taxation of recreational marijuana statewide.
That same day, the Trump Administration announced plans to open the entire California coast to offshore drilling, which would represent the largest expansion of offshore oil and gas drilling in U.S. history. True, much of the East coast was also opened to the same oil and gas drilling. However, on January 10, 2018 an exception was made to exempt the coasts of Florida from this major oil and gas drilling expansion, and the Administration’s reasoning was because that state “is unique and its coasts are heavily reliant on tourism as an economic driver.” The truth is Florida is a Republican state and California, (and Oregon, and Washington) is not.
On January 16, 2018 the Department of Homeland Security threatened to arrest California mayors and other public officials who support the sanctuary city policies the U.S. Government has vowed to crackdown on. Immigration and Customs Enforcement director has been threatening at-large arrests in California as a result of our state’s sanctuary law enacted last year, and has also called for the arrest of California politicians who stand in the way of the federal government’s immigration crackdown, a major one of which is planned for the Bay Area in the next few weeks.
And now on January 22, 2018 the president placed a 30% tariff on imported solar panels. Californians have installed more solar panels than the people of any other state, and California is the home to the greatest number of solar energy jobs in the country. This effectively means Californians are being discouraged from – or being forced to pay a premium in order to – live according to our values in support of a clean planet.
This concludes the first year of Trump’s America versus California. We have at least three more years to go, possibly seven. We couldn’t prevent his election in 2016, we will have the same non-ability to prevent it in 2020. It will depend on the rest of the country, but can we depend on them?