Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Time For Kevin de León, Not Another 6 Years For Dianne Feinstein


California state Senate president Kevin de León shot this video about Californians’ shared values about a year ago, when he was realizing Californians would be leading the resistance to Trump by moving forward with the policies progressives in the legislature had run on and were already committed to. On Sunday the NY Times featured de León, now the candidate taking on conservative Democrat Dianne Feinstein for the U.S. Senate seat she has grown old and less capable in, In Clash Between California and Trump, It’s One America Versus Another. Reporter Tim Arango focuses on the “growing divide between California and the Trump administration… over a dizzying range of flash points, from immigration to taxes to recreational marijuana use, some of the issues de León has led on while Feinstein has ignored. “What had been a rhetorical battle between a liberal state and a conservative administration,” wrote Arango, “is now a full-fledged fight.”
Just as Californians were enjoying their first days of legal pot smoking, the Trump administration moved to enforce federal laws against the drug. On the same day, the federal government said it would expand offshore oil drilling, which California’s Senate leader called an assault on “our pristine coastline.”

When President Trump signed a law that would raise the tax bills of many Californians by restricting deductions, lawmakers in this state proposed a creative end-around-- essentially making state taxes charitable contributions, and fully deductible. And California’s refusal to help federal agents deport undocumented immigrants prompted one administration official to suggest that state politicians should be arrested.

The clash between California and Mr. Trump and his supporters-- between one America and another-- began the morning after he won the presidency, when Kevin de León, the State Senate leader, and his counterpart in the Assembly, Anthony Rendon, said they “woke up feeling like strangers in a foreign land.”

Since then the fight has metastasized into what could be the greatest contest over values between a White House and a state since the 1950s and 1960s, when the federal government moved to end segregation and expand civil rights.

Back then, of course, the ideologies and values at issue were reversed, as conservative Southerners, under the banner of states’ rights, fought violently to uphold white supremacy. In these times it is liberal California making the case for states’ rights, traditionally a Republican position.

…New laws that went into effect on Jan. 1 in California raised the minimum wage, allowed parents to withhold gender on birth certificates and strengthened what were already some of the toughest gun laws in the country by restricting ammunition sales and assault weapons, and barring school officials from carrying concealed weapons at work. Taken together, the measures are the surest signs yet of how California is setting itself apart from Washington-- and many parts of America, too.

Mr. de León, along with almost the entire leadership of California, has been a bulwark against the Trump administration. Mr. de León introduced the so-called sanctuary state legislation-- the California Values Act-- that restricts state authorities from cooperating with federal immigration agents, and places limits on agents entering schools, churches, hospitals or courthouses to detain undocumented immigrants.

…[T]his week, Mr. de León introduced legislation to limit the impact of the new tax bill on Californians by essentially allowing residents to pay their state taxes in the form of a charitable contribution, which could then be deducted when filing federal income tax.

Mr. de León also said he was working with Eric H. Holder Jr., an attorney general under President Barack Obama, to push back against attempts to enforce federal marijuana law, which Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Thursday he would allow federal prosecutors to do.

“Whether Jeff Sessions likes cannabis is not the question,” Mr. de León said. “The people of California voted overwhelmingly to legalize marijuana for recreational use.”

For his part, Mr. Trump is the first president since Dwight D. Eisenhower to not take a trip to California in his first calendar year in office, not even to visit his golf course in Rancho Palos Verdes, south of Los Angeles, or a mansion he owns in Beverly Hills, or to tour the vast damage left in the wake of a series of wildfires. By contrast, he has made multiple trips to other states hit by natural disasters, including Texas and Florida after Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

In California, every state leader is a Democrat, including the governor and the leaders of the State Senate and Assembly. Of the state’s 53 members in Congress, only 14 are Republicans, and analysts believe several of them are in jeopardy of losing their seats to Democrats in next year’s midterm elections because of opposition in California to Mr. Trump.

…California’s diversity-- 40 percent Latino, and with an estimated 2.3 million undocumented workers, according to a Pew Research Center survey-- is regarded by many people here as a powerful counternarrative to the Trump administration’s anti-immigration policies and the ugly racial incidents and outbursts of white supremacy that have surfaced during his presidency in places like Charlottesville, Va.

Beyond demographics and politics, charting its own course is part of the identity of California. “We are the frontier,” said Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, a political scientist at the University of Southern California. “Beyond us, there’s nothing but ocean.”

California is not the only liberal state standing up to the Trump administration. But as the most populous state, with close to 40 million people— if it were a country it would be the world’s sixth largest economy, sandwiched between Britain and France— California has been energized in the age of Trump to take the lead in opposing what many here believe is a depressing reversal of American progress.
Goal ThermometerBlue America has endorsed KDL for the U.S. Senate and you can help his campaign against the Feinstein money machine by tapping on the ActBlue California thermometer on the right. Remember, in California the contest between conservatives and progressives is the primary, not the general election. Most Democrats, even progressives, are either staying clear on the primary or backing the powerful conservative Feinstein. But not Congressman Ro Khanna, the state’s most progressive member of Congress. He penned a compelling OpEd for the Sacramento Bee explaining why he isn’t supporting Feinstein’s reelection bid: “new ideas, new leadership and a new beginning to our politics.”
In an era of unprecedented change, voters want leaders who understand the complex challenges of the 21st century economy. They seek leaders who have a vision for shared prosperity in places left behind and for the jobs of the future.

It is in this context that we should evaluate U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s decision to seek a fifth term in 2018, one that would extend to 2024.

…At stake are the fundamental values of what defines us as Californians and Americans. On the big questions of this new century, Feinstein has been wrong.

She was wrong to vote for the Iraq War. She was wrong to be the lead sponsor of the Patriot Act and then to push for its extension. She was wrong to support President George W. Bush’s expansion of the National Security Agency in conducting surveillance on U.S. citizens and collecting metadata.

She was wrong to introduce legislation to outlaw encryption, compromising the personal data and privacy of consumers. And she has consistently been wrong about restricting speech online, including supporting the Stop Online Piracy Act, which faced a backlash from netroots activists and millennials.

Apart from her problematic voting record, she has failed to show leadership on issues of income inequality. She has not offered any pathway to Medicare for All, even being dismissive of the goal itself.

She has failed to lead on issues of debt-free college. She has not introduced bold proposals to increase wages for working families. Although she undoubtedly shares core Democratic values, she is not pushing the envelope to offer an alternative to the current economic system, which so many Americans believe is rigged against them.

California can do better. Our state is home to some of the most innovative policy thinking in the nation and the most passionate grassroots activism. We deserve a senator who will help lead on the big issues in the years ahead. Sen. Kamala Harris has shown how much impact a new senator, who is eloquent and dynamic, can have on the national conversation within months of being sworn in.

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