This is Essential Politics, our daily look at California political and government news. Here's what we're watching right now:
- California senators advanced three immigration-related bills Tuesday, including a proposal to fund legal aid for immigrants in the state who face deportation.
- What has each member of California's congressional delegation said about President Trump's executive order on immigration? Find out your representative's position here.
- California's congressional Democrats came out forcefully against Trump's immigration directives over the weekend, while Republican members of Congress held their fire.
You can find our December news feed archive here.
Former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Tuesday that the United States had faced trying times and political crises before, and has always persevered.
“Yes, we’re going through some difficult moments right now, as we have in the past, but I guarantee we will work our way out of this,” Schwarzenegger said, speaking at an electoral reform event at the University of Southern California.
He recalled immigrating to the United States and seeing the violent protests at the Democratic National Convention in 1968, Watergate and the economic troubles during President Jimmy Carter’s tenure.
“One thing you can count on in America is even though it falls every so often — as we all do — it dusts itself off, gets up and gets going again," Schwarzenegger said. "That is why … it’s the number one country in the world.”
Although Schwarzenegger did not mention President Donald Trump by name during his remarks, the comments appeared to be a reference to the turbulence since Trump took office less than two weeks ago.
Tensions between Schwarzenegger, who replaced Trump as the host of “Celebrity Apprentice,” and the new president and fellow Republican have been escalating. On Monday, Schwarzenegger called the implementation of Trump’s temporary ban on immigration from several Muslim-majority countries “crazy.” The previous week, Schwarzenegger slammed Trump’s pick to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, Oklahoma Atty. Gen. Scott Pruitt, as a hypocrite.
Earlier in January, Trump mocked Schwarzenegger for the first ratings of “Celebrity Apprentice” after the former governor took over as the host. During the presidential campaign, Schwarzenegger repeatedly made clear his disdain for Trump, pointedly casting his ballot in the California primary for Ohio Gov. John Kasich after he had dropped out.
On Tuesday, Schwarzenegger was headlining an event about redistricting reform at his namesake institute at USC. He did not respond to reporters’ questions after the event.
While governor, Schwarzenegger championed electoral reform, including an ultimately successful effort to take the redrawing of congressional and legislative districts away from politicians and give them instead to an independent commission.
Both political parties have long tried to use gerrymandering to create districts that favor their politicians.
But David Daley, author of “The True Story Behind the Secret Plan to Steal America’s Democracy,” argued that Republicans were able to make unprecedented changes in the 2010 redistricting that will have long-lasting effects on this nation’s politics because of a confluence of factors, including unprecedented technology such as mapping software, and a flood of anonymous money due to the Citizens United ruling.
“In 2010, gerrymandering enters its steroid era,” Daley said.
The end result, he said, was that while the nation remained relatively closely divided between the two parties, the GOP was able to exponentially expand its hold of statehouses, governor’s mansions and congressional seats.
Speakers urged Californians to take the lessons they had learned through the state’s redistricting reform and try to help voters apply them in other states, through the initiative, or legislative or legal systems.
“We are the model for the rest of the nation and that is why we in California have to do everything we can to pull together all the things that happen successfully in California and nationwide,” Schwarzenegger said. “Because the rest of the states are waiting for us.”