John Cassidy,my favorite New Yorker columnist, has an excellent piece out on lessons from California for Trump. Here's how the article starts:
'If you’re looking to get away from Donald Trump’s Twitter feed and spend a few days thinking about the direction of this country, you might consider a trip to Southern California, which I visited last week with my family. In many ways, the Golden State represents the American future that Trump—with his white nativism and economic protectionism—is trying to turn back, Canute style.
Once a bastion of Nixon-Reagan Republicanism, California is now among the most diverse states in the country, with Hispanics and Asians making up a majority of the population. The state—the world’s sixth-largest economy—is also increasingly integrated into the Pacific Rim. In Washington, the “pivot to Asia” foreign-policy doctrine is often ridiculed. In California, it is rapidly becoming a reality.
Trump lost California by a two-to-one margin in 2016, and, after taking office, he waited more than a year to visit the state. But the G.O.P.’s problems in California predate Trump: the Party has been in free fall since the nineteen-nineties, when Pete Wilson, then the governor, a Republican, endorsed Proposition 187, a proto-Trumpian ballot initiative that was designed to prevent non-citizens—Hispanic non-citizens, mainly—from using state-provided public services. (The initiative passed in 1994 but was ruled unconstitutional in 1998.) In alienating the fast-growing Latino vote, Wilson helped cast his party into the wilderness for a generation.
Wilson left office in 1999, and the last Republican to have won statewide office since then was former insurance commissioner Steve Poizner, in 2006....
There are still fourteen Republicans from California in the House of Representatives, but, going into the midterms this November, at least seven of those seats are in serious jeopardy....If Trump keeps up his demonization of immigrants and talk of economic protectionism, things are likely to get even harder for California Republicans."
And yet....despite this obvious peril California Republicans era are simply doubling down on Trump-style rhetoric and actions on immigrants. Nowhere is in the state is this more true than in Orange County, probably the central battleground for California House seats in this coming election. As Ronald Brownstein notes in a good new article on this dynamic:
"Local officials in Orange County last week threw a twist into the escalating conflict between the nation's capital in Washington and the state's capital in Sacramento by moving to join the Trump administration's lawsuit against the state on the explosive issue of so-called "sanctuary" policies that limit cooperation with federal immigration laws.
The move by the county government to ally with Trump -- which also includes a new policy from Orange County's sheriff intended to undercut the state law -- seems likely to spill into California's critical cluster of congressional races. With Democrats targeting at least seven, and perhaps as many as 10, Republican-held House seats across California, some GOP strategists believe that siding with Trump against the state on the volatile "sanctuary" issue represents the party's best chance to minimize its losses....
In many ways, the Board of Supervisors' choice to support the federal lawsuit seems a throwback to the days when the county was viewed as a hotbed of white backlash conservatism, rather than a reflection of the growing minority presence and shifting partisan allegiances among college-educated whites that allowed Hillary Clinton in 2016 to became the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry Orange County since Franklin Roosevelt in 1936."
So: how well is tying themselves to Trump likely to work in this area? A recent Public Policy Institute of California found about 60 percent of Orange County/San Diego residents disapprove of Trump. Perhaps Orange County itself is different? Nope. A new Chapman University poll specifically of Orange County finds Trump with a 37 percent approval rating to 63 percent disapproval.
This doesn't sound promising for a "we're 100 percent with Donald Trump" strategy in Orange County. But it does sound promising for the antithesis of that strategy: California is the future. As Cassidy notes at the end of his article:
"California is fulfilling its traditional role of leading the United States into the future. Trump, of course, has a very different idea of where the country should be heading. But when his efforts are viewed from the edge of the Pacific Ocean, they look even more quixotic and self-defeating than they do from Washington and New York."
Yup. Quixotic and self-defeating. Orange County--and all--Republicans take note.
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