Californians, unpack. You’re not really moving to Canada. You don’t want to go and besides, you are needed here.
Friends and neighbors, hand back the #Calexit petitions. Your state will not be seceding, and you don’t want it to. The nation belongs to you at least as much as it belongs to any of those red states. You will not surrender it.
And by the way, “Not my president” protesters, Donald Trump will be your president. If you deny it, you deny your legitimate and indispensable role in fighting policies and fiats you consider destructive, or in rejecting the bullying, misogynistic, race-baiting appeals you have been hearing for more than a year — and which you may well hear for four more if you don’t demand that they cease.
Be depressed. Then get over it.
Denial is comforting, anger is therapeutic, but California, as you make your way through the five stages of grief and you get to stage three, bargaining, remember this: You are California. You bargain from a position of strength. This state is far and away the nation’s most populous, most forward-looking and most influential. It cannot be ignored unless it allows itself to be. On Nov. 8, it chose Hillary Clinton over Trump by 29 percentage points, larger than the spreads by which Barack Obama beat John McCain and Mitt Romney.The 2016 election does not marginalize California. It makes this state a formidable, undeniable and potent political challenge to the new president.
People who seek 21st century iterations of freedom, fairness, creativity, open-mindedness, political advocacy, environmental stewardship, immigrant rights, criminal justice and human services look here for ideas, support and leadership. They are encouraged or dejected depending on whether they know we’re still carrying the flag for those tenets. Let’s make sure to fly it high enough for them to see it.
President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals brought thousands of our colleagues, our acquaintances, our families and ourselves out of the shadows and the economic underclass to help build the state by learning, training, working and investing here. Trump’s threat to eliminate the program is a threat to all of us, and we must be prepared to counter it with argument and activism. We hold out hope that those who would scrap DACA are proceeding in ignorance, so it falls to Californians to help educate them on the vital role played in this state and throughout the nation by people who were brought here as children but grew up as Americans. We must meanwhile study and discuss what the state might legally do to ensure that such a large portion of Californians are not deprived of their right to work, and begin drafting state plans, programs and statutes accordingly.
The health program known as Obamacare brought medical coverage to millions of Americans for the first time. If Trump and his supporters succeed in undoing it, the consequences would be tragic. But if it happens, California stands ready with decade-old policy blueprints for alternative approaches that can form the basis of new talks and new plans for our own people and models for other states.
If the White House is to become a comfort zone for deniers of global climate change, California must be a constant reminder of science and a source of countervailing strategy. It has become a global leader in fighting climate change, and although one state’s efforts may amount to little in a worldwide tally of carbon spewing, it must not back down. Leadership is not always cheap, easy or fun, but it is a moral imperative.
In water, in policing, in criminal justice reform, in racial justice, in education — national policies and pronouncements are tested in part by how well they are embraced here, giving Californians a responsibility to remain awake, alert and engaged.
After denial, anger and bargaining, it is said, come depression and acceptance, and that’s fine. Be depressed. Then get over it. As for what we will accept, and whether we will accept it lying down or on our feet, ready to say “no” to bad ideas and to demonstrate the power of good ones — that’s a question to be answered here, in a California that should be unwilling to relinquish its moral, policy and political leadership.