Los Angeles Politics

Trump in court. Newsom in Florida. What it means for California

Trump in court. Newsom in Florida. Clarence Thomas on a yacht.

And let’s not forget the Bud Light brouhaha, an Idaho law meant to stop girls from leaving the state to obtain an abortion and Tennessee Republicans booting (then being forced to reinstate) two Democratic lawmakers for leading a gun safety protest in the state General Assembly.

Then, not least, there’s the Texas ruling trying to end access to an important drug for medical abortions.

Lately it’s been a fire hose of news: jaw-dropping, history-making — Donald Trump becoming the first ex-president ever indicted — and just plain weird.

Should Californians care about any of it?

Columnists Anita Chabria and Mark Z. Barabak discuss.

Chabria: I admit, I don’t know how much more crazy I can handle from the national news. But there are some threads that tie it all together, and tie it back to California in important ways. We are seeing messaging for the 2024 election taking shape on the right, but not as clearly for Democrats.

When Gavin Newsom announced he was going to Florida for a not-running-for-president tour, I had visions of him doing tequila poppers with Judy Blume in Key West. But being the serious guy he is, he went to Sarasota and spent his time acting as a field researcher for the Democratic Party, testing out messaging on the national stage.

Newsom can do whatever he wants politically, a freedom that many other ambitious Democrats, like Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg, lack. (Though he told MSNBC’s Jen Psaki that he did check in with President Biden before his Southern states jaunt).

Whether Newsom is really trying to position himself for an eventual White House run, California’s governor — and by extension California and its attitudes about diversity and inclusion — are shaping up to be an important part of this next presidential contest.

As much of the country swings hard right, with conservatives trying to fear-monger about what they see as a failed blue state, the reality is we are becoming proof that civil rights and diversity aren’t the path to destruction Republicans claim.

How do you make sense of this flood of events?

Barabak: Is it possible to go into hibernation before all that snow melts in the Sierra?

I mean, it’s a funny thing: Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign message, essentially, was that he would stop the crazy, put the country back on an even keel and rid us, once and for all, of the one-man national wrecking crew known as Donald Trump.

We can see how that’s worked out.

As for our gallivanting governor, I think it’s overly flattering to suggest Newsom is doing much meaningful spadework to boost Biden and the Democrats in 2024. I think the party would do just fine if, say, the governor instead chose to visit parts of red California that have long felt neglected and scoffed at by Sacramento, rather than swanning through Alabama and Arkansas.

There will be no end of contrast between Biden and whomever Republicans end up nominating for the White House, and the choice will be plenty clear to voters in November 2024, even if Newsom is watching from the sidelines.

Chabria: For me, it comes down to offense versus defense. Right now, the Republicans are on the offensive and setting the agenda of what we talk about. Biden has largely taken that elder statesman, above-the-fray attitude that, as you point out, he promised. Which is great.

Except that we have a growing wave of fascists and Christian nationalists who aren’t bothered by facts, and who are working far outside the bounds of traditional politics to strip rights away from women, minorities and other vulnerable communities. Like the latest Texas abortion ruling.

I honestly do not care about Newsom’s political future, but I do care about democracy. My father was a refugee, my mom was LGBTQ and I am a mixed-race woman with mixed-race daughters. So this is personal to me and I have genuine fears about the future. We can’t wait another year before we collectively address this erosion of rights.

Newsom is offering the closest thing Democrats have to an offense — although Harris has stepped out more recently, with a trip to Africa that showed her in a far more personal light, and then a stop in Tennessee to support the two Black lawmakers ousted for seeking to introduce a little sanity into our guns laws.

Do you think this is the start of a higher profile for her?

Barabak: That seems to be the plan.

Part of it is the rhythm of the political calendar. (Can calendars keep a beat?)

As election year 2024 edges closer, we can expect both Biden and Harris to start traveling more around the country and, especially, hitting the battleground states that will decide the race. The role of vice president has traditionally been the more overtly political of the two, leaving the president to, as discussed, float a bit more above the fray.

And remember, Harris was chosen as Biden’s running mate in good part for political reasons, namely to boost his standing among Asian American, Black and female voters who will, again, be central to Democrats’ success.

Part of the veep’s elevated profile also seems a bit of White House pushback following yet another batch of reports questioning Harris’ capabilities and even asking whether she’ll be dumped from the Democratic ticket, which is a complete and total nonstarter for, among other reason, her above-mentioned ties to key groups.

Those who accompanied Harris through Africa, including our colleague, Courtney Subramanian, described a vice president who projected greater ease and confidence and seemed more open than Harris has been in her not wildly successful domestic travels. We’ll see if that continues.

Chabria: That covers California’s two marquee politicians. What about the state itself?

Newsom advertises California as a sanctuary for just about everyone — a place where LGBTQ families are safe and welcomed, where we are stockpiling abortion medication and where we have common-sense gun laws.

At the same time, San Francisco is the place conservatives love to hate. Except apparently Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who — when he isn’t yachting around the world with his Nazi-obsessed corporate benefactor — hangs out nearby with his buddies at the secretive all-male Bohemian Grove, where rich dudes do whatever rich dudes do in private.

That San Francisco-as-lefty-hellhole narrative was boosted by the recent fatal stabbing of tech entrepreneur Bob Lee and a much-hyped claim by former NCAA swimmer Riley Gaines that she was assaulted at San Francisco State University after giving a speech against the participation of transgender women in women’s sports.

How do you think the rest of America is thinking about California? Or do they think about us as little as we think about them?

Barabak: The glib answer is they hate us because they ain’t us.

A more serious response is there is a vast political and cultural divide between California and other Democratic-run states and the pugnacious conservatism ascendant in places like Florida and Texas, and the issues surrounding that conflict — among them guns, LGBTQ rights, school curriculum — will be at the center of the 2024 presidential race.

No matter who wins the White House, that conflict isn’t about to go away.

It’s both sad and quaint to recall how a little-known Illinois state senator by the name of Barack Obama shot to overnight fame on the strength of a speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention calling for an end to the divisions between red and blue America. Needless to say, that gulf has since widened to an extent that anyone giving that kind of speech would probably be laughed, or booed, off the convention stage.

Chabria: You’re right. And if that gulf continues to grow, we may be tasked not just with choosing who to vote for, but where we feel safe and welcomed living. For me, I’m sticking to the Golden State. But let’s see where you belong with this quiz to help identify your political homeland:

Snowboarding or waterboarding? Dylan Mulvaney or Mick Mulvaney? Bohemian Grove or “Bohemian Rhapsody”?

Barabak: I’ll take snowboarding and Queen, thanks very much. But I’ll confess, while I’m familiar with Mick Mulvaney (the former South Carolina congressman and Trump chief of staff), I had to Google “Dylan Mulvaney” (the transgender social media star) to find out who she is.

Sad, I know.

Chabria: Dylan Mulvaney did a social media post with Bud Light, which caused a conservative meltdown that culminated with Kid Rock shooting beer cans. But I know you were on the slopes of Tahoe when that chaos ensued, so you’re forgiven.

And two out of three ain’t bad — we’ll keep you here with the other coastal elites.

Source link

About the author

Joseph Hernandez

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment

LA Weather

June 10, 2023, 7:28 am

2 mph
real feel: 63°F
humidity: 86%
wind speed: 2 mph WNW
sunrise: 5:41 am
sunset: 8:03 pm
Forecast June 10, 2023

wind speed: 7 mph SW

wind speed: 4 mph SW