Don’t look now, but is the whole state of California at risk of splitting off from the rest of America? We don’t mean from a cataclysmic earthquake along the San Andreas Fault line but from a political hailstorm that dominates all the lands and other states east of the Sierras?
We just legalized pot, but the feds want to crack down on us like we’re still living in times of Reefer Madness. We say no to coastal drilling for oil, but the U.S. Interior Department just announced plans to “drill, baby, drill.” California has declared itself a sanctuary state but federal immigration officials are threatening to lock up any local official who enacts the sanctuary statutes. The Republican tax bill that was just passed seemed to have an anti-California target attached to it. And, we don’t know if this is good or bad, but our current president has declined to even visit here in his first 12 months in office.
California is the bluest of blue states in America, led by its 39 Democrats in Congress and a supermajority in statewide elected offices. Four million more Californians voted for Hillary Clinton than for Donald Trump. If a Trump impeachment trial were held in California, is there any doubt of its outcome?
Once upon a time, California was home to future Republican and conservative presidents like Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren was a Republican California governor, followed by George Deukmejian, Pete Wilson and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
What changed? If we Californians are so right in our politics and social values how can so many other voters, elected officials and fellow middle class dwellers be so wrong?
No, wait a minute. What if the current majority of Americans who live east of the Sierras are right and we are the ones who are wrong? If that’s the case, maybe that San Andreas earthquake that will cleave off California from the rest of the continent couldn’t happen soon enough.
We’ll just take our world’s sixth largest economy and our “left coast” politics with us and do just fine. Maybe Californians are tired of being a “donor state” where we pay more federal income taxes than for services returned from Washington, D.C.
California was settled and developed by waves of Pacific explorers, 49er gold miners, frontiersmen, early railroad industrialists, Hollywood and Disney fantasy makers, aerospace inventors and microchip entrepreneurs. How did all that red, white and blue expansionism and golden capitalism turn into today’s green environmentalism, liberal blue politics and rainbow-hued tolerances?
In many ways, California has not only been the name of a place; it also has been a collection of ideas, dreams and opportunities. These were never red or blue or strictly political. (The idea didn’t change but California Republicans did. They now prefer the ideas of their larger nationalist party in Washington, D.C.)
The idea of California remains rich in natural resources and beauty. It always has been welcoming to all people and generations of immigrants. Building the idea required a great infrastructure of highways, water projects, modern industry, colossal agriculture and higher learning institutions. It has been a very prosperous and generous proposition.
The California idea and its history and story has always been unique in all of America. Golden dreams here really did come true, not just in the Hollywood movies. Places not named California have had to endure the Depression’s Dust Bowl, decades of civil rights violence, Appalachian poverty and rusted-out, angry urban ghettos. Those places have been filled with too many dead dreams. No wonder their politics are less hopeful than here in California.
Gov. Jerry Brown says “we are a fragmented nation and (in need) of a politics of truth-telling. We’ve got to find a commonality” and avoid infinite conflict. On his way out of office this year he says we must “stay loyal to the idea of California.”