California Democrats set to lead the opposition to the Trump administration
President-elect Donald Trump begins his presidency in January with Republican control over the House and Senate. However, as The Guardian reports, although “this one-party control over Washington hands Trump enviable power” he should not expect “plain sailing,” as Democrats are expected to fight back using tools such as the Senate filibuster.
And it’s not just in Washington where Trump can expect to find trouble with enacting his anticipated agenda. States such as New York, Massachusetts and California are vowing to lead the battle against Trump’s repressive policies.
Among those states, California is uniquely qualified to lead the battle due to its size, economic might and Democratic control over the state. As Bloomberg reports, “Democrats have dominated all branches of California’s government since 2011, when Jerry Brown succeeded Arnold Schwarzenegger as governor. With the largest economy in the U.S. and the sixth-largest in the world, the state enjoys greater independence from Washington than most.”
California Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) and California Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (D-Paramount) released a “Joint Statement from California Legislative Leaders on Result of Presidential Election, immediately following the election that details their plan to “lead the resistance” to any efforts by President-elect Trump to “reverse generations of progress.”
“Today, we woke up feeling like strangers in a foreign land, because yesterday Americans expressed their views on a pluralistic and democratic society that are clearly inconsistent with the values of the people of California,” they began. “While Donald Trump may have won the presidency, he hasn’t changed our values. America is greater than any one man or party. We will not be dragged back into the past. We will lead the resistance to any effort that would shred our social fabric or our Constitution.”
Adding that “We are not going to allow one election to reverse generations of progress at the height of our historic diversity, scientific advancement, economic output, and sense of global responsibility,” Sen. Leon and Speaker Rendon concluded their statement, writing: “California was not a part of this nation when its history began, but we are clearly now the keeper of its future.”
Last week, Gov. Jerry Brown took an affirmative move toward setting that agenda of resistance in place by nominating California Democratic Congressman Xavier Becerra to serve as California’s next attorney general.
NBC News reports that “As attorney general of the nation’s most populous state, Becerra will be in a key position to challenge President-elect Donald Trump’s policies and mandates that seek to undo those of California and other states on everything from energy and the environment to immigration, marriage equality and health care.”
Becerra issued a statement last week accepting Gov. Brown’s nomination. Referring to himself as “the son of immigrants,” he vowed to “fight for working families” before moving to “summarize his liberal bona fides” as McClatchy DC reports.
“I have been part of some of the greatest debates confronting our nation, from opposing the Iraq War, to fighting to help Americans recover from the Great Recession, to launching the bipartisan immigration talks and helping write our nation’s health security law,” Becerra wrote, adding that “California right now is ahead of the country when it comes to clean energy, common sense treatment of immigrants, real health security and so much more.”
Becarra issued a challenge to the Trump administration should they seek to try to take on California’s liberal agenda, according to McClatchy DC:
In a conference call with reporters, Becerra said he would be “vigorous in defense of what we’ve done” to expand clean energy, protect parts of the federal health care law that Republicans seek to dismantle and preserve efforts toward “criminal justice reform” that seek to protect “young men of color.”
“We have policies in place that probably won’t pass at the federal level for another five, 10, 15 years,” Becerra said. “If you want to take on a forward-leaning state that is prepared to defend its rights and interests, then come at us.”
McClatchy DC adds that “in the face of Trump’s vow to deport millions of immigrants with criminal records,” Becerra appears posed to support California’s sanctuary cities, cities that have adopted policies protecting undocumented immigrants by refusing to support federal efforts to deport them or to prosecute them for violating federal immigration laws.
“No one who goes to a grocery store to shop should believe the state of California is going to do anything to keep them from going home to see their kids if they’re just being regular, hardworking individuals,” Becerra stated during the conference call, adding: “You’re talking to the son of immigrants, and I’m going to do everything I can to give that child of immigrant parents every chance I had.”
California Gov. Jerry Brown expressed confidence that Becerra would continue to lead the battle against climate change, stating in an email that: “Xavier [Becerra] has been an outstanding public servant – in the State Legislature, the U.S. Congress and as a deputy attorney general. I’m confident he will be a champion for all Californians and help our state aggressively combat climate change.”
Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon renewed their post-election vow to defend California against Trump’s administration, with de Leon stating that Becerra would defend “the civil and human rights of every Californian [that are] under threat by a hostile Trump administration.” Rendon echoed that sentiment praising Becerra’s “tenacity [and] respect for the rights of all Californians” as “much needed qualities… given the troubling times ahead.”
Indeed, during the 2016 election campaign Becerra served as one of Hillary Clinton’s most prominent surrogates, often issuing fiery denunciations of Trump such as his speech at the Democratic National Convention when he stated that “at every stage in his life, Donald Trump has exploited America’s laws to put himself first.”
NBC News reports that political strategists and academics alike anticipate that Becerra will be part of the advanced guard leading the opposition against Trump’s presidency.
“He could become the face of the California resistance, that is a very popular idea in a lot of places, that California Democrats are going to be the vanguard of opposition to the Trump administration,” said Roberto Suro, director of the Tomás Rivera Policy Institute and a professor at the University of Southern California.
Mike Madrid, a California political strategist and principal of Grassroots Lab, said Becerra’s ability to articulate and advocate for middle class issues “could be transformative.” As California’s attorney general, he’ll have a “seat at the table in helping the Democratic Party get out of the wilderness.”
The position is ideal for push back against Trump, said Madrid, a Republican who has advised Democrats.
“We are now seeing the true emergence of these two Americas. D.C. will be controlled by Republicans and there is a push on immigration and the undocumented,” Madrid said. “We are now going to see a possible rejoinder to that.”
You can watch as Becerra talks with Rachel Maddow about California’s preparedness to defend its progressive policies from potential attacks by the Trump administration in the video, below.