If there is an upside to President Donald Trump's attack on progressive policies, it's that left-leaning states have stepped up to the plate to fight back. On immigration, the environment, and health care, several state governments have emerged as leaders of the charge against the Trump administration. But California appears to be the one doing more than any other state to stand up to Trump.
While some may contest that Hawaii — which just passed legislation to keep the state on track to meet the requirements of the Paris climate accord and has been actively fighting Trump's travel ban — or Delaware, who is on track to legalize abortion in-state, just in case Roe v. Wade is overturned, are more deserving of that title, California, by mere presence alone, is a huge counterweight to the administration's agenda.
The state's population, just under 40 million, is larger than Canada's, and the ramifications of its policies are likely to reverberate beyond its borders. And it's not just sheer numbers. California's demographics paint a picture of what the entire United States may look like in years to come: A majority-minority. As of 2015, Latinos already outnumbered whites in the state, and Hillary Clinton's decisive 30-point win shows that the diverse coalition her campaign tried to build was truly "stronger together" in the state.
California is the great Trump counterweight https://t.co/Ku04gPNkgk— Jim VandeHei (@JimVandeHei) May 4, 2017
These numbers indicate that a Democratic state legislator and governor are all but guaranteed throughout the rest of Trump's four-year term. The current governor, Jerry Brown, is serving his fourth term and would be eligible to run again in 2018. He was re-elected in 2014 with nearly 60 percent of the vote. In the state legislature, Democrats have 55 of 80 seats, and in the state senate, they hold 27 to the GOP's 13 — a more than healthy margin.
This kind of legislative and gubernatorial control has resulted in a lot of progressive polices that run in counter to Trump's political agenda. To size California up against its fellow left-leaning states, it's helpful to look at the areas of the environment, immigration, and health care. California is not only larger but also more influential in these areas.
Take Hawaii, for example. The Aloha State made headlines for passing laws to help keep it on course to fulfill the Paris climate accord's requirements. One law would work to reduce carbon emissions and the other would help make the state's agricultural industry more renewable.
But given that 27 percent of the U.S. carbon emissions come from transportation, fuel efficiency — something that Trump has tried to move backward on — is extremely important. Thanks to California, though, the effect will be limited. The state has reaffirmed its own fuel efficiency requirements that exceed the national ones.
As for immigration, Hawaii was indeed the first to take Trump's travel ban to court. And, no, California was not among the five other states to join Hawaii in the fight initially. But California was the 7th; it joined the suit in March. The state's attorney general, Xavier Becerra, called the ban "an attack on people — women and children, professors and business colleagues, seniors and civic leaders — based on their religion and national origin."
But even more than that, California has offered its residents without papers lots of the same rights and benefits as American citizens.
Don't believe the critics: a new report shows California's single-payer plan is eminently affordable. https://t.co/jLo3vPCqzF— Jacobin (@jacobinmag) June 2, 2017
And finally, on health care, there has been a strong leftward push from lawmakers in California. As the House GOP moved to repeal Obamacare, the California Senate passed a single-payer healthcare bill. Supporters argue it could lower health care costs for families as well as the total spending in the state. Most importantly, it would guarantee the right to health care for all Californians.
There are more ways that California and other states will surely push back against the Trump administration. But thanks to California's sheer size, as well as its accomplishments in these three particular policy matters, there's no doubt that it's the state doing the most to stand up to Trump.