City Visions: Assessing California vs. Trump, one year in

Nov 6, 2017

It's been almost a year since Donald Trump was elected president, and on issues from immigration to climate change, California's been putting up a fight. Host Joseph Pace and guests look at how our state has been influencing national law and policy, the limits of resistance, and the future of California's relationship with Washington.

Guests:

 

-Carla Marinucci, California Playbook reporter, Politico; former senior political writer, San Francisco Chronicle

 

-Joe Eskenazi, editor-at-large, San Francisco Magazine; columnist, Mission Local

-Jason McDaniel, associate professor of political science, San Francisco State University

Edited excerpts:

Jason McDaniel: Well, you know I'm struck actually...by sort of the low key, no drama sort of leadership and focus on governance that we see here in California. So it's not just big issues and big press conferences and lawsuits, which are important and will matter to people's lives. But the way in which the leaders of the state are keeping their head down, focusing on governance and not being torn apart...Our state is not being, I think, torn apart by some of the racially divisive tactics that people like Steve Bannon really brought in to the White House especially, and that Trump seems so taken with, right? And so, looking back on this last year, I'm struck by those states, metropolitan areas, especially mayors, that are just focusing on doing their job and not getting distracted. And I'm thinking about, for instance, Eric Garcetti getting the Olympics - another example of Californians working together, bringing something like that to LA. They made a plan for that, and working with Trump a little bit...So again, I'm just struck by the differences in approach that we see in California and in places that are successful around the country in resisting that kind of lowering themselves, perhaps, to this kind of politics.

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Carla Maranucci: ....We've got [Tom] Steyer on the air all over the country right now with ads talking about impeaching Donald Trump. And he's gotten more than, I guess, a million and a half signatures so far on that campaign in just a couple of weeks. I think that shows... We don't know where he's going, what he may be doing. One of the most interesting things about how California's reacted to Trump could be the national figures that come out of this whole thing, whether we talk about Tom Steyer or Eric Garcetti, who's being looked at as a potential presidential candidate. Certainly Kamala Harris, another one. Until a few weeks ago, Mark Zuckerberg.

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Joseph Pace: Tell us more about what your sense is about what Washington can do, but it's just not able to do, when it comes to reacting to California, San Francisco, the Bay Area's pushback on the Trump agenda.

 

Joe Eskanazi: So far they've unable to take the money away. They've been unable to stop us from doing whatever it is that we have set out to do, and there have been ominous warnings and things like that, but so far the record in court has been very one-sided, astoundingly so, to the point where you get weird and scary statements about judges being made by the executive branch of the government. This, at least in San Francisco and throughout California, you see a fair amount of proactive lawyering. I mean, this is the state that sued Enron. We do this. So a lot of what San Francisco has done, and you mentioned suing Big Oil at the onset of this program, that would have happened anyway. And I feel I didn't make a point earlier as adequately as I should have, a lot of the things that Donald Trump wants to do are things that any Republican candidate for president would have done. I think the level of vitriol and just out-and-out hate and mean spiritedness is unique to him, and that will help with some of the people who favor these ends that Donald Trump does, but also help bring people out and bring entities out here that oppose them.

 

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Carla Maranucci: ...I think when we talk about immigration too, one other area that is really important to California is the H-1B Visas in Silicon Valley. After this recent terrorist incident in New York, Trump immediately called for a look at H-1B Visa's and into chain immigration...This kind of policy - I think we haven't calculated the effects on the center of the innovation economy which is here in Silicon Valley. Because I've heard from folks there saying, look, when you've got talented tech people who are ready to come over here, and they're deciding where to go, and the president is making statements like that, "Well, we'll just go to China or Canada." Already, these countries are sucking up the best and the brightest who maybe don't wanna come to Silicon Valley anymore. I think the effects of that are yet to be felt.

 

Joe Eskanazi: Not just Silicon Valley. I mean...you mentioned infrastructure. Infrastructure in the United States is not in a good place, and this country doesn't produce engineers. If you go to an engineering school graduation at a major university, most of... I would say it's a fair bet that most of these people were not born in the United States. If you make it harder for these people to obtain educations in the United States, you are really shooting yourself in the foot and things will start to fall apart. And I mean, I have personal experience in this. I married a foreign-born engineer. And in the country where she's from, France, people are encouraged to become engineers. And I have to tell you that bridges get built on time and under budget. It's incredible what a difference you get in a society where that is encouraged. And here in the United States, we have been getting by on our academic excellence and our desirability for a long time, and people come here and they stay here. And that's where a lot of your structural engineers, your mechanical engineers are coming from.