Donald Trump has declared war on California. It’s a fight we must join.
Beset by early failure — no border wall, no tax reform, Affordable Care Act “repeal” destined to die in the Senate — Trump uses California as a whipping boy to distract his base in Trump Country: mostly rust states and the old confederacy, peopled by droves of disaffected white have-nots needing somebody to blame.
They hate us because we’re awesome: The most populous state with the world’s sixth-largest economy, the nation’s principal food supplier, home to some of the world’s most advanced technologies.
We lead the nation in job growth. California’s entertainment industry has shaped the nation’s culture for a century.
They hate us because we’re beautiful: Our breathtaking beaches, redwood forests, purple mountains majesty. And because we’re uppity: We overwhelmingly reject Trump while winning in international trade and innovation, global climate change policy, equal rights and sane drug laws.
We cherish our environment. We give a damn about the future.
Our success grates on Trump, who can’t abide anything more splendid than himself. He’d surely enjoy taking us down.
Trump’s assaults on California are adding up:
▪ He wants to open the coast to offshore oil drilling.
▪ He threatens to withhold federal money unless local jurisdictions drop “sanctuary” policies and cooperate with his roving bands of heavily armed federal police poking under beds and bushes looking for undocumented immigrants to deport — criminal or not.
▪ He unleashes his Jim Crow attorney general to override our voter-approved marijuana laws after promising the opposite during his campaign.
▪ Innately immune to irony or self-reflection, Trump asserts it’s California that’s “out of control.”
Our reaction was predictable.
The Legislature considers a bill to prohibit the use of state ocean waters to support drilling in federal waters. Legislators pass a bill to bar local and state law enforcement from using local resources to assist federal immigration raids. State regulators craft rules for cannabis sales and use.
Gov. Jerry Brown and state Attorney General Xavier Becerra — whom The Atlantic dubs the “Golden State Warrior” — lean into Trump’s militant gasbaggery, promising to fight him in the courts and even in space with “our own damn satellite.”
Anti-California aggression oozes from this president, whose party belligerently champions states’ rights only when it’s convenient to their agenda of undoing environmental regulations, repealing women’s health care and usurping the rights of the politically weak with gerrymandering, voting barriers and legalized discrimination.
This struggle over states’ rights vs. federal supremacy would be an interesting academic exercise if the consequences weren’t so dire. Viewed from anywhere east of the Sierra Nevada, Trump is delivering California its long-overdue comeuppance. Sad.
In many respects, the conflict Trump has visited upon California is a reverse Civil War: We fight to remain in the Union. In Trump Country, they’d just as soon we didn’t.
So how does California overcome Trump’s neo-fascist federalism, assert our state’s rights and concurrently demonstrate loyalty to country? By joining the war Trump Country so clearly wants.
So we fight, like this:
1. The Legislature and governor declare California a “Federal Tax Sanctuary State.”
2. Subsequent legislation requires California payers of federal taxes to send their payments to the California Franchise Tax Board — not the IRS — to be held in interest-bearing escrow accounts in California-based banks.
3. California indemnifies all resident taxpayers whose federal payments are in escrow, legally defending them from federal collection and enforcement actions.
4. California’s approximately $368 billion annual federal tax payments are withheld until:
a) Trump removes all armed federal immigration troops from California except at the border.
b) Trump withdraws his funding blackmail over California sanctuary policies.
c) Trump stops his wholesale assault on science, environmental regulations and climate change policies.
d) The federal government accounts for the surplus it receives from California taxpayers compared to “taker states.”
e) Trump and Republicans cease their insolence toward California, their affronts to our patriotism and their disrespect for the sacrifices of California’s military families.
5. California organizes a Blue State Tax Sanctuary Alliance with “giver states” to increase political resistance and deter further belligerence from Trump’s administration.
Also, we stop all talk of “Calexit,” which denigrates California’s standing as a world economic power, diminishes our achievements and defames our honor.
Trump’s military-style assault on our immigrant population, his attack on California’s forward-thinking environmentalism, his withdrawal from the Paris Agreement on climate (which California helped craft) are existential threats to California’s economy and state sovereignty. Trump is a danger to our state.
California is worth defending. It’s why we fight.
Liberal columnist Tom Fulks serves on the San Luis Obispo County Democratic Central Committee. His column runs every other Sunday.