So President Trump will visit our state this week. Ain’t that a hoot? He’s already declared war on California’s middle class with a punitive tax code, sicced Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions on our pro-marijuana and -immigrant policies, and insulted many of our fine representatives, including Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) and Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) — but strangely enough, never Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach), who’s so pro-Russia he makes Boris Badenov look like Captain America.
We see this jaunt for what it is: The emperor wants to inspect his new lands and show the world he can make the conquered natives bend the knee. It’s taken a while, though; no president has taken longer to visit California after his election since Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1936. The reason for the delay? His Trumpness has no clothes. He’s terrified of us. He wants nothing but adulation and glory and doesn’t dare meet anyone who’ll offer any bit of criticism whatsoever.
That’s why his only two scheduled appearances so far are a fundraiser with the One Percenters in Beverly Hills and a review of prototypes for his beloved border wall. And that’s why he’s skipping Orange County. No rally, no fundraiser, no nada.
Because we, of all people, don’t want him here. And in other news, the New York Times had an original insight about Los Angeles.
This development is big — Big One-big. Orange County has served as the Republican Party’s emotional-support animal for generations. Barry Goldwater once famously quipped that the only states he carried during his disastrous 1964 presidential run were Arizona and Orange County. It’s where rising conservative stars used to test their material before party elders and wealthy donors, where angry suburban voters reliably voted GOP in the name of liberty and fewer Mexicans.
Trump did hold a raucous rally at the Pacific Amphitheatre in Costa Mesa in April 2016. He bragged to his audience that 31,000 people were there — never mind that the Amphitheatre only holds 8,500. He returned that May to a far-smaller crowd at the Anaheim Convention Center, then ignored OC and hasn’t even texted since.
It seems even Trump is capable of learning. He must’ve realized that this isn’t the Orange County of old.
We’ve been majority-minority since at least 2004. Activists have created progressive pockets from Laguna Woods to Santa Ana and beyond. GOP registration has fallen precipitously as young voters have either sided decline-to-state or Democrat. All of these changes culminated in Hillary Clinton taking OC in the general election, the first time a Democrat did so since FDR in 1936.
Of course it wasn’t just activists and demographics that helped Clinton along — it was Trump. I know a lot of GOPers who despised their candidate so much that they either didn’t vote for any president or wrote in someone else. Jon Fleischman of the Flash Report, a man so conservative he probably doesn’t do left turns while driving, announced on social media that he voted for Vin Scully as president.
Trump did the political equivalent of USC losing to Fresno State in the Freedom Bowl. (Look that one up, sports-hating lefties.) And what’s happened in Orange County ever since should give the rest of the country hope. At the positive extreme: Invigorated activists have harangued OC’s congressional GOP base, pushing two long-timers, Reps. Ed Royce of Fullerton and Darrell Issa of Vista, into early retirement. In 1990, the GOP held a 22 point lead over Democrats in voter registration; at last count, it was down to 2.8 thanks to young people and Latinos.
The media and political sharks have taken note. National correspondents from the Wall Street Journal to CNN to even Curbed have parachuted in to proclaim that this isn’t John Wayne’s Orange County any more. (Pro tip: Even John Wayne wasn’t John Wayne — all his children are half-Latinos.).
One almost feels sorry for Trump, that he can’t get a hero’s welcome in Orange County. In 1984, Ronald Reagan kicked off his reelection campaign at Mile Square Park in Fountain Valley to an audience of 50,000, with 15,000 people turned away. This is when the Gipper told reporters the quote that local conservatives bragged about for decades: that Orange County was where “all the good Republicans go to die.”
Now, thanks to Trump, OC has turned into the GOP’s graveyard. Enjoy the Golden State, 45, and don’t let the California burritos hit you on the way out.