California Declares independence:
California this week announced its independence from the federal government’s weak efforts to fight Covid-19 – and perhaps from a few more. The consequences of the fight against the pandemic are almost certainly positive. The implications for the brewing civil war between Trumpism and the vigorous majority of America in the 21st century, embodied by California’s multi-religious liberal electorate, are less clear.
Speaking on MSNBC, Governor Gavin Newsom said he would use California’s bulk purchasing power “as a state” to procure hospital supplies that the federal government has failed to provide. If everything goes according to plan, Newsom says, California could even “export some of those supplies to states in need.”
Newsom does accomplish a few things here, with what can only be a deliberate lack of economy. First and foremost, it seeks to alleviate the shortage of personal protective equipment – an emergency that the White House has proven unable to recover. The details are a bit vague, but Newsom, according to news reports, has arranged several suppliers to provide around 200 million masks each month.
Second, Newsom is kicking sand in the face of President Donald Trump after Newsom’s previous flat – the coin of the White House kingdom – failed to produce results. If Trump can’t manage to deliver supplies, there’s no point in Newsom continuing the charade.
Third, and perhaps this is the most lasting impact, Newsom sends a powerful message to both political parties. So far, the Republican Party’s war on democratic values, institutions, and laws has been largely a one-sided affair, with the GOP attacking and the Democratic Party defending.
The fatal ruling this week by the Republican block of the United States Supreme Court, which required Wisconsin residents to vote in person during a pandemic that closed polling stations, is a preview of the fall campaign.
The GOP plans to limit postal voting and other legal enfranchisement to curb turnout amid fear, insecurity and ill-health.
At some point this civil war by other means, aimed at incorporating GOP minority rule, will provoke Democratic antipathy. Perhaps Newsom, the nation’s largest state leader, is speeding up that response, shaking Democrats out of denial and paying attention to Republicans. California, an economic behemoth whose taxpayers account for 15% of individual contributions to the U.S. Treasury, is now tightening on a muscle beach.
The imagination leaves out what that means, of course. But not much is needed to predict what might evolve.
Newsom, a former lieutenant governor who took office in 2018, has used the phrase “nation-state” before. It’s a very strange thing to say. California, like its 49 smaller siblings, only qualifies as the second half. But obviously it’s not a slip of the tongue. Democratic state Senator Scott Wiener, a leader in California’s burdensome efforts to produce more housing, said shortly after Newsom took office in 2019 that redirecting the state’s relationship with Washington was a necessity, not a choice.
“The federal government is no longer a trusted partner in providing healthcare, in supporting immigrants, in supporting LGBT people, in protecting the environment, so we need to create our own path,” said Wiener. “We can do everything we can to protect our state, but we need a trusted federal partner. And at the moment we don’t have that. ”
The statement seems conscientious in light of the failure of the Trump administration to defend against a pandemic. Newsom was the first governor to issue a stay-at-home order, on March 19. Although its province is full of cosmopolitan centers, and looming rural threats too, California is weathering the virus in much better shape than New York, which has far fewer people and many more deaths.
Federalism has always had rough spots, but conflicts escalate and decisions do not. California is a sanctuary state while the Trump administration is fond of immigration dragnets. Marijuana is grown, marketed and widely used in the state while the White House creates more restrictions.
The Trump administration endorses extreme gun rights; California has other ideas. Most of all, Trump’s failure to act, or even take responsibility for action, in the face of a pandemic has required California, like other states, to look out for itself.
One conflict, however, encompasses all others, and could galvanize Californians into new ways of thinking about their state and its relationship with Washington. The GOP war on democracy is spiritual.
Why is California seeing fewer #coronavirus cases and deaths than New York? Experts study whether state developed some herd immunity through undetected early exposure to virus last year https://t.co/Sgkzk0aE8M
— ABC7 Eyewitness News (@ABC7) April 10, 2020
From Fort Sumter to Little Rock to Montgomery, the blueprint for states opposed to federal control has a recurring theme. But there is no reason that states cannot adopt a racist playbook for other purposes. If California and other 21st-century policies withhold revenues, or otherwise distance themselves from Washington control, legal and political struggles will escalate.
Republicans will have a legitimate constitutional debate – but it will be morally corrupt and politically unlawful as long as they continue to overturn majority rule.
The experience of states battling Covid-19 while the White House devotes its energy to winning the news cycle can be informative. What is the difference, conceptually, between a state that uses its power to protect the health of its population and a state that uses it to protect the democratic rights of its population?
John C. Calhoun, who used the theory of states’ rights to defend the institution of slavery, is generally not a philosophical host to liberal Democrats like Newsom. But if Republicans (or foreign friends) manage to defy democracy in November, Calhoun’s theory of dissolution, which suggested that states have the power to challenge federal law, could be ripe for a return on the left coast. With the heirs of the Confederates now reigning in Washington, eviction could be very fair.
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REF : bloomberg