Apologies for yesterday’s accidental post-that-wasn’t. I clearly don’t do stir-crazy very well….
Should the GOP manage to manipulate–rig– the 2020 election and somehow re-elect Trump–maybe I won’t have to move into my son’s house in Amsterdam, or go to Canada, which have been my choices so far.
Maybe I can just move to California. which Governor Gavin Newsom has begun referring to as a “Nation-State.”
California this week declared its independence from the federal government’s feeble efforts to fight Covid-19 — and perhaps from a bit more. The consequences for the fight against the pandemic are almost certainly positive. The implications for the brewing civil war between Trumpism and America’s budding 21st-century majority, embodied by California’s multiracial liberal electorate, are less clear.
Speaking on MSNBC, Governor Gavin Newsom said that he would use the bulk purchasing power of California “as a nation-state” to acquire the hospital supplies that the federal government has failed to provide. If all goes according to plan, Newsom said, California might even “export some of those supplies to states in need.”
(Newsom’s “Nation-State” differs from what Mike Bloomberg and others have referred to as “the rise of City-States” in response to climate change.)
In what the quoted article calls “civil war by other means,” Newsom is sending a message, not to Trump (who lacks the intellect to decode communications in any event), but to both political parties.
The GOP has been waging war on democratic values, institutions and laws for a number of years. The Democrats have been playing defense (and arguably not very well).
The GOP’s politicization of the Supreme Court most recently led to the unconscionable ruling requiring Wisconsin voters to risk their lives in order to cast a vote. Despite the fact that Wisconsin voters took that risk, that should have been a wake-up call.
Perhaps it was.
It’s clearly past time for Democrats to go on the offensive. Newsom is Governor of the nation’s largest state; he’s in a position to put Republicans on notice. California’s taxpayers account for 15% of individual contributions to the U.S. Treasury, and the article suggests the state is is “now toning up at muscle beach.”
Democratic state Senator Scott Wiener, a leader in California’s cumbersome efforts to produce more housing, said soon after Newsom took office in 2019 that reorienting the state’s relationship to Washington is a necessity, not a choice.
“The federal government is no longer a reliable partner in delivering health care, in supporting immigrants, supporting LGBT people, in protecting the environment, so we need to forge our own path,” Wiener said. “We can do everything in our power to protect our state, but we need a reliable federal partner. And right now we don’t have that.”
And that quote was from before the federal government’s multiple failures to respond adequately to the pandemic.
Federalism has a number of virtues; as we saw in the 50s and 60s, however, “state’s rights” can also facilitate gross injustices. Its current operation is among the many governing structures we need to rethink and reorient–but that reorientation, along with all the other institutional “fixes” we need–will have to await the installation of a competent federal administration.
Meanwhile, states like California are increasingly at odds with the Republican playbook: California is a sanctuary state while Trump’s GOP is demonizing immigrants; its approach to marijuana is much more permissive than that of the feds; its position on guns is diametrically opposed to that of an administration co-opted by the NRA. Etc. Now, Trump’s dangerous mismanagement of pandemic response has essentially left California and other states to manage on their own.
One conflict, however, encompasses all others, and could galvanize Californians into new ways of thinking about their state and its relationship to Washington. The GOP war on democracy is inspired by a drive for racial and cultural supremacy that jeopardizes the democratic aspirations and human rights of California’s multiracial citizenry.
It isn’t only California. The majority of citizens in our diverse nation live in urban areas and urbanized states, while the White Supremacy Party–aka GOP–is increasingly a rural phenomenon. The states with a majority of the country’s population are under-represented in the Senate; their citizens’ votes are minimized by the Electoral College and gerrymandering. There’s no reason to believe that these continuing inequities of minority rule won’t trigger a counterattack–and good reason to believe they will.
As the editorial concludes:
John C. Calhoun, who used the theory of states’ rights to defend the institution of slavery, is not generally a philosophical lodestar for liberal Democrats such as Newsom. But if Republicans (or foreign friends) succeed in sabotaging democracy in November, Calhoun’s theory of nullification, which posited that states have the power to defy federal law, could be ripe for a comeback on the left coast. With the heirs of the Confederacy now reigning in Washington, turnabout might be very fair play.