I went to an inaugural ball a few weeks ago — the one in Washington state, not the one in Washington, D.C. — and got a good sense of the official resistance that is rising on the West Coast against the policies of the new Trump administration.
Jay Inslee celebrated the advent of his second term as governor of the Evergreen State on the evening of Jan. 11, and I was there for personal reasons. Inslee and I were in the same high school graduating class in Seattle, as were both our wives. In fact, I’ve known the state’s first lady, Trudi Inslee, since sixth grade, so this was a friends and family event.
Somewhere near midnight, after the big party was over, I was hanging out with Inslee in the kitchen at the governor’s mansion. I asked him what he thought of the decision by California’s legislative leaders to hire President Obama’s former attorney general, Eric Holder, to advise them on ways to fight the Trump administration in court. Inslee indicated he was all for resistance. He said he was already conferring with “the two Browns” — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and California Gov. Jerry Brown — to coordinate efforts.
Now, that resistance has come to fruition in the lawsuit brought by Washington state to block Trump’s travel ban aimed at immigrants and refugees from seven predominantly Muslim countries. Washington Atty. Gen. Bob Ferguson has been all over cable news talking about what, so far, has been a successful effort. On Tuesday, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments on the dispute. However the court rules, the case is expected to go on to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“This demonstrates the importance of governors and states in the four-year battle to preserve the fundamental values of this country,” Inslee told the Washington Post. “The nation needs checks against a president who’s prone to rogue behavior, and governors will assume a more important place in the democratic system.”
West Coast governors have made it clear they intend to oppose President Trump on a full range of issues — climate change, energy, healthcare, same-sex marriage, immigration and more. Oregon is officially a “sanctuary state” and Kate Brown, speaking about the immigration ban, said, “I will uphold the civil and human rights of all who call Oregon home.” She has been joined in that opposition by all but one of the members of Oregon’s congressional delegation.
California’s Gov. Brown has said his state will resist what he called the “miasma of nonsense” emanating from the Trump White House. Dealing seriously with the challenge of climate change has been a central focus throughout Brown’s years as governor and, in a December speech before the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, he declared his intention to push back against the climate change deniers who are ascendant with Trump’s election.
"We've got the scientists, we've got the lawyers, and we're ready to fight,” Brown said of his state. If the Trump administration shuts down NASA’s climate research satellites, Brown said, “California will launch its own damn satellite.”
Government officials in the three states are getting backing from many of the major companies that fuel the West Coast economy. Forbes magazine identifies 126 tech companies that have signed on to Washington state’s brief against the travel ban, and most on the list are based in cities stretching from Los Angeles to Seattle, including SpaceX, Tesla, Apple, Google, Airbnb, Uber and Microsoft. Seattle-based Amazon filed a separate declaration of support. Adidas, the German company whose U.S. headquarters is in Portland, announced opposition to the ban, as did the chief executives of Oregon-based Nike and one of Oregon’s largest employers, Intel.
One out of every eight Americans lives in California, now an estimated 39 million people. Add in the 7 million-plus in Washington and Oregon’s 4 million, and you are talking about a lot of voters.
Californians pay more federal taxes to the federal government than any other state and, per capita, get far less back in federal support than many other states. Trump has threatened to “defund” California if the state gets too ornery. One wonders if California could defund the federal government in return.
Whether such a thing is possible, it is clear that Trump, the man who wants to build a big wall on the border, is running into a massive wall himself. It is called the West Coast.
Follow me at @davidhorsey on Twitter
MORE TOP OF THE TICKET