Now that Donald Trump is president, he will take the reins of the most powerful government the world has ever known: 7,000 nuclear weapons; a world-spanning conventional military; a $4 trillion federal budget, that’s $4,000,000,000,000.00; a couple dozen spy and armed domestic enforcement agencies: CIA, FBI, NSA, federal marshals, etc.; vast new powers, of dubious constitutionality, thanks to outgoing President Obama’s countless “executive orders”; a bully pulpit that now includes tweets; a huge following among the toiling masses.
So who’s going to challenge him in California and become a counter-president, nationally or even just here? Jerry Brown? Nancy Pelosi? Dianne Feinstein? The Calexit folks?
Although there will be maneuvers by the politicians and protests in the streets, California will knuckle under to Trumpism just like the rest of the country. The days of states resisting federal power ended on April 9, 1865.
What happens when the tax takings from early 2017 greatly exceed expectations and Democrats in the Legislature start salivating about spending all that dough? Will they be as upset with Trump about immigration and Obamacare? Will they wish Hillary had won and vastly increased taxes and regulations?
Even last July, Republicans in Congress were threatening to withhold $135 million in federal grants to law enforcement if the state’s Sanctuary Cities policies were enforced. Now Republicans will control the White House. And President Trump could withhold the money by himself with an executive order. How will the cop and prison unions respond to that?
California can’t stop Trump from reinforcing the wall that already exists along its border with Mexico. Nor can it do anything about the additional border agents who will be hired and placed there.
Nor can it do anything about whatever happens with Obamacare.
Then there’s education, by far the biggest state expenditure. The California Teachers Association long has hated President Bush’s No Child Left Behind. In 2015, the Republican Congress passed and President Obama signed a bill effectively ending NCLB, returning some control to state and local school boards. Trump also opposed NCLB, as well as Obama’s Race to the Top, and wants more decentralization. He also favors school choice, which the CTA really hates. And he opposes the Common Core standards, which the CTA favors and the state is adopting.
But the central factor is that Trump opposes centralization, which means the federal money will flow to the states with fewer strings attaches – likely meaning more power for the CTA.
On the environment, Trump can’t change AB32, the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006. But he has appointed global-warming skeptics, such as Myron Ebell, to his administration. There’s nothing California can do about that.
According to the New York Times, “In a show of defiance, Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, and legislative leaders said they would work directly with other nations and states to defend and strengthen what were already far and away the most aggressive policies to fight climate change in the nation. That includes a legislatively mandated target of reducing carbon emissions in California to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.”
So? As the Times notes, Trump could cut funding for climate research going to state university research labs. Actually, I think he’s going to cut it nationally close to zero. In any case, California can do nothing about that except scream and hope its Democratic members of Congress can slightly reduce whatever Trump wants to do.
The EPA itself was established by President Nixon in 1970 with an executive order. It has accumulated vast new powers, including by President Obama’s executive orders. Trump can do the same, including canceling previous orders, affecting all states, including California.
Now, flip it over and look at what the more conservative states faced when Obama became president eight years ago. In 2010, Arizona passed SB 1070 to reduce illegal immigration. The Obama Justice Department insisted the bill went too far and usurped federal supremacy on immigration. The U.S. Supreme Court sided with Obama and threw out most of the bill. The Feds won.
In 2008, California passed Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage. Most states also had similar bans. That year, presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton both came out against legalizing same-sex marriage. Soon, Obama and Clinton switched and backed same-sex marriage. Obama appointed two justices to the U.S. Supreme Court with similar views. In 2015, in the Obergefell decision, the court struck down all state bans. The Feds won.
The Feds always win. Lee lost at Gettysburg. Sherman marched through Georgia.
Finally, if you know anything about Congress, or any legislative body, there’s a lot of “horse trading” going on. New Rep. Lou Correa campaigned on a platform that, while in the Democratic majority in the California Legislature, he was nice and worked with the minority Republicans, so now he’ll cooperate with the majority Republicans on deals with California Democrats.
Especially with Trump in the Oval Office, there will be deals upon deals. Eventually, even Jerry Brown will be forced to come around. He’s a lame duck with waning power. He can brood only so long on his ranch.
29-year Orange County Register editorial writer now writes freelance. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org