In the aftermath of the decisive Democratic victory in California, America’s wealthiest and most populous state will likely emerge as public enemy No. 1 for the right-wing of the Republican party.
The Nov. 6 midterm election installed a visionary progressive as Governor of California and wiped out the western Republican Party in its home territory of Orange County. That and the fact that the Golden State has proven to be a success in so many areas means it will be a target.
The National Review, a respected conservative journal that has been edging ever farther to the right since President Trump’s election, put it bluntly. In an article last week, Michael Brendan Dougherty suggested that “Donald Trump should do everything possible to make Gavin Newsom and the California model his foil.”
There’s a logic to this. California represents the future, and Donald Trump is all about the past.
He is, after all, a man who wants steel and coal to once again dominate the economy, who doesn’t believe in climate change, who hates electric cars, who considers immigrants dangerous, and who believes Navy carriers are better off with steam than San Diego-based General Atomics’ latest supermagnets. He’s a luddite who uses Twitter.
Because California is so successful, and because it represents the future, get ready for the attacks. Here’s what the right-wing Republicans will focus on:
Silicon Valley — Santa Clara County evolved from fruit orchards to the world center of high technology. Companies like Intel, Google, Nvidia, Apple, Facebook and Twitter dominate their industries worldwide and pay billions in state taxes. Right-wingers suspect these companies, and Fox News rails against them to its geriatric audience. The right-wing Republicans will do everything they can to undermine this American success story.
Electric Cars — Electric vehicles are a big threat to traditional thinking because they don’t depend upon the old-style heavy industry of which Trump is so fond. Despite many naysayers, the Tesla Model 3, which is built in Fremont across the bay from Silicon Valley, is now the fifth best-selling sedan in the United States. It actually outsells all BMW passenger models together. Texas prohibits direct sales of Teslas, and other red states may follow suit.
Immigrants — California has more immigrants than any other state and a stronger economy to show for it. What Trump and the right-wing of the party don’t understand is that that those driven to emigrate are also driven to succeed. They don’t come to America for welfare, but to build a future. If Trump had done his own shopping in Manhattan, he would have noticed that the bodega on every block is owned by an immigrant. California understands this.
Health Care — Medical care was easier in the old days: treatments were simple and life was short. It’s more complicated now, with modern medicine able to save patients and prolong lives, but at great cost. California is trying to address this 21st century challenge with Medi-Cal and a potential state-run single-payer system. The biotech centers in San Francisco and San Diego are also working on solutions. Solving the health care challenge is all about the future.
Education — California’s grade school education has its issues, but the Golden State sill manages to graduate the best and brightest at its world-beating universities. Berkeley, Stanford, Cal Tech, UCLA and UCSD always make the worldwide top 20 rankings. No university in a ruby-red state like Texas ever does. And incoming Gov. Gavin Newsom’s first effort will likely be to improve early childhood education to address California’s grade-school challenge.
Economic Growth — The latest UCLA Anderson forecast shows job growth in California outpacing the U.S. through 2020. California has among the most innovative industries in the world, from aerospace to electronics to entertainment. There’s little like them elsewhere in the country. And they’re generally immune from Trump’s silly tariffs. This will certainly be cause for right-wing jealousy.
If President Trump and the right-wing Republicans do make California their foil, they will likely underestimate their foe. As Gov. Jerry Brown put it when he inducted Joan Baez, Robert Redford and Fernando Valenzuela and five others into the California Hall of Fame on Tuesday, “Don’t stop now, keep going — and I say the same thing about California.”
Chris Jennewein is editor and publisher of Times of San Diego.