The president clearly enjoys needling the nation’s most populous state.
Since his inauguration, Donald Trump has taken aim at California for its policies on immigration and environmental protection, its left-leaning cultural institutions, its poverty rate (which, if you factor in the cost of living, is the highest in the nation), its crime rate (which isn’t), its most recent choice of governor and its alleged tolerance of voter fraud (a charge that’s completely unfounded).
The state is accustomed to being a political foil of the right. Half a century ago Ronald Reagan rode popular resentment of UC Berkeley protesters and Hollywood lefties to the governorship. These days, on Fox News and right-leaning social media circles, “San Francisco” has become synonymous with a veritable hellhole, overflowing with discarded hypodermic needles and human excrement.
But Trump has taken the familiar script to new extremes. In court documents, regulatory maneuvers, executive orders and, of course, Twitter tirades (more than 40 mean tweets about California since Election Day), the president has assailed the Golden State as a dystopia of liberal laxity — and a cautionary tale of life under Democratic rule.
Now, as he hits the campaign trail, it’s become an even more frequent theme. For the president, the political risk of taking potshots at a state he lost by a 2-to-1 margin in 2016 is minimal. And anti-California sentiment might be an effective way to rally his base. But does he have a point?Read More
Health care in the Democratic presidential debates has largely focused on Medicare for All versus the more incremental public option.
Medicare for All has great appeal to many Democrats, but struggles with other voters. The concept of a public option is less risky but also less mobilizing. Each Democratic alternative, whether Medicare for All or the public option, would require new legislation.
If only there were a policy on health care with the legislative lift already done that appeals to voters across partisan lines and that voters know and like, and I don’t mean the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, which is more popular than it was, but is still fairly obscure to voters with support that still falls along partisan lines.
That policy exists. It’s called Medicaid. Or the “M Word.” Or “the policy that shall not be named” to judge from the Democratic presidential debates.
Created along with Medicare in 1965, Medicaid covers more than 75 million Americans. The Affordable Care Act expanded Medicaid eligibility up to 138% of the poverty level and covered the vast share of the cost.Read More
If you’re confused about how to vote in California’s presidential primary, you’re in good company with Susan Sarandon.
At the beginning of January, the "Thelma and Louise" actress and Sanders enthusiast issued a public service announcement on Twitter: “California voters: make sure to switch from independent to democrat (sic) in order to vote for @BernieSanders.”
Just one problem: She’s wrong. Political independents (known in California election parlance as “no party preference” voters) do not need to switch parties to vote in the Democratic presidential primary — the just need to request a Democratic ballot first.
Technically, Sarandon was retweeting the account @TimOnTheTractor — but Tim (presumably) doesn’t have an Academy Award. He also doesn’t have 653,000 Twitter followers to misinform.
To be fair, the minutiae of California election law is really confusing! And Sarandon is hardly alone. Election day in California is March 3, but already social media has become a bipartisan chorus of wrongness about the what, how and why of the state’s presidential primary.Read More
Updated Jan. 10, 2020
With Democrats holding all the political power in California for nearly the last decade, the Golden State has evolved into a laboratory for big blue ideas. Put a price on carbon? We’ve done it. Provide health insurance to undocumented immigrants? We do some of that too. Gun control, minimum wage hikes and heavy taxes on the rich are also realities here.
Democratic candidates for president — with rare exceptions — don’t typically point to California as a model, at least not explicitly. But many of the major policies they’re proposing are already happening here to some degree. Below are some key ways Democratic presidential candidates want to make the United States more like California, along with analysis of what the state’s policy experiments reveal so far.
Tom Steyer is the only Californian who remains in the race. Others taking a page from us include Michael Bennett, Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg, Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Andrew Yang.
CalMatters reporters Felicia Mello and Judy Lin contributed to this report.Read More
Fixing the housing crisis should not be a partisan issue. Housing is an American issue and is at the core of what it means to live the American Dream.
Voters should insist that whoever wins in November, whether it’s President Trump or one of his Democratic challengers, tackle this issue.
As president of the National League of Cities, I created a bipartisan task force of local leaders from across the country to shine a light on the key issues impacting our nation’s cities, towns and villages.
Our collective discussion helped create the league of cities’ Leading Together 2020 Cities Agenda. As we drafted that agenda, one thing was clear: Solving our nation’s housing crisis and the growing number of men, women, and children experiencing homelessness is the issue that we who represent cities must solve. The quality of life for all of us has diminished because the rent is just too damn high.
For me, this issue is personal. During my 15 years in the Los Angeles Police Department, I saw the daily impact and the long-term toll that a lack of affordable, accessible housing can have on families.Read More
If Sen. Elizabeth Warren is hoping to clean up in California during the state's March presidential primary, she’ll have to make do without the Napa wine cave vote.
It was one of the most contentious and reoccurring spats at tonight’s televised Democratic debate at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles: A winery in Rutherford in the Napa Valley became fodder in the latest flare-up between two of the leading presidential candidates, as well as a pitch-perfect symbol of a purportedly elite donor class and an inequitable campaign finance system.
At issue was a fundraising dinner that South Bend, Indiana mayor Pete Buttigieg held at the chandelier-festooned Hall Rutherford earlier this week. Tickets for the event were reportedly $2,800.
“We made the decision many years ago that rich people in smoke-filled rooms would not pick the next president of the United States,” said Warren, the Massachusetts senator whose campaign has been taking jabs at Buttigieg for weeks over his dependence on large-dollar donors. “Billionaires in wine caves should not pick the next president of the United States.”
Buttigieg countered that Warren herself is a millionaire. He also argued that in the political “fight of our lives” against President Trump, “we need everybody’s help.”Read More
When Savannah Mendoza was a child, her father would take her along to the polling place when he went to vote. Years later, Mendoza is a political science major at Sacramento State. She wants to run for office someday.
But for now, she’s focused on a more immediate challenge: getting her classmates to turn out for the 2020 elections.
“As a young Latina, that’s something that in our communities we don’t see that often,” said Mendoza. “We don’t recognize how powerful our voice and our vote is.”
Mendoza and other campus organizers across California are gearing up for the state’s early primary in March, hoping for a repeat of the 2018 elections, when student voter turnout nationwide more than doubled. They’re trying creative tactics to get their peers registered and to the polls, helped along by two new California laws aimed at encouraging campus civic engagement.
Younger adults have long voted at lower rates than older ones, but a combination of shock over the 2016 elections and strong feelings about issues such as the environment and immigration drove a surge in student voting in 2018 that outpaced the uptick seen among the general population, experts say. Those same factors could come into play again next year, said Nancy Thomas, director of Tufts University’s Institute for Democracy and Higher Education, which reports on college student voting rates in each federal election.Read More
With California’s new relevance in the presidential primary, it is absolutely critical that we ask candidates how they plan to lead the country out of the political impasse and take-no-prisoners battle ground that America has become.
Much of the analysis has centered on who can win against Trump, and some of the candidates have made this their only measuring stick. But if we are to defend our republican democracy for the next generation against internal chaos and foreign interference, the real question is, after the election, what does group therapy for our national trauma look like?
California has a lot of lessons to offer the nation on how to walk that path toward national healing.
Let’s start with redistricting, the process of drawing voting maps using decennial census data that, in most states, makes mixed martial arts cage fights look tame.
When a UFC match is finished, one fighter advances and the other goes home. In redistricting, incumbent politicians not only win an election, they get to set the rules for the next match and every election for a decade.Read More
Chad Mayes is embarking on a political experiment.
On Thursday, the former Republican leader in the state Assembly finally pulled the plug on what had long been a fraught relationship with the California GOP. Next year he’ll run for re-election in his Yucca Valley-area district as an independent, no doubt taking flak from both a Democrat and a member of his former party.
Running without the imprimateur or financial backing of one of the state’s major political parties’ has never been a winning strategy in California. Several candidates who’ve attempted it statewide have crashed, including most recently former Republican Steve Poizner in his independent 2018 bid for state insurance commissioner. He told CalMatters: “I really do want to be a pioneer for this because if I’m successful I’m hoping lots of people will run as an independent” — right before he lost.
Legislative districts, however, may offer better prospects for independents than a statewide contest. And in a state where “no party preference” voters now outnumber registered Republicans, where GOP political power in both chambers of the Legislature and the congressional delegation sits at a generational nadir, and where the California unpopularity of President Donald Trump has helped flip some of the GOP’s longest-held bastions of support into the Democratic camp, it’s not clear that running with an “R” next to your name is such a great idea either.
“A major political party, even one as weakened as the California Republicans, still gives a candidate structural advantages,” said Dan Schnur, a professor at UC Berkeley and the University of Southern California who ran unsuccessfully for secretary of state as a political independent in 2014. “The question that Mayes is testing is whether the party is so damaged that the downside of associating with it outweighs those structural benefits.”Read More
California Sen. Kamala Harris seemed all but destined to be a front-runner when she launched her Democratic presidential campaign before a cheering throng of 20,000 supporters in downtown Oakland last January. A prosecutor to take down Trump, a black woman in a party disproportionately made up of black women, a U.S. Senator from the country’s largest state — on paper, she looked formidable.
This was before former Vice President Joe Biden entered the race. Before Mayor Pete and Elizabeth Warren rocketed to the top tier. Before Harris proclaimed that she was “moving to Iowa” (expletive deleted) and before the campaign adopted and then discarded a handful of ill fitting slogans ("Dude gotta go.") Before the campaign’s internal drama found its way into Politico and The New York Times, which last week headlined its story “How Kamala Harris’s campaign unraveled.”
This morning, Harris announced that she was throwing in the towel, leaving a field of 15 Democratic candidates — many of whom are still polling below her. Her “political pragmatist” label failed to resonate with the mood of her party’s electorate, and calling herself a “progressive prosecutor” served to dredge up questions about just how progressive she really was as San Francisco’s district attorney or California’s attorney general.
But according to Harris, it simply came down to money.
“I’m not a billionaire. I can’t fund my own campaign. And as the campaign has gone on, it’s become harder and harder to raise the money we need to compete,” she said in a press release this morning — a final dig at Tom Steyer, Michael Bloomberg and John Delaney, three billionaires who remain in the field.Read More