California Gov. Jerry Brown continued his bid to make California the unofficial capital of Reality-Based America with his State of the State Address Tuesday, delivering a fiery speech that stopped a little short of declaring an open state of hostilities with That Man In The White House (the real speech starts at about the 20 minute point in the video above). It was pretty much a continuation of his December speech vowing to resist any federal efforts to cut funding for researching and fighting climate change. Brown made it abundantly clear he’s not going to let California go down the drain of Trumpism. For one thing, he’d object to wasting that water.
Brown started by reminding the state Assembly that California has, on its own, the world’s sixth-largest economy and that “One out of every eight Americans lives right here and 27 percent — almost eleven million — were born in a foreign land.” That diversity and openness to immigration, he said, help make the state “what it is today: vibrant, even turbulent, and a beacon of hope to the rest of the world.”
Then Brown turned toward national themes:
“This morning, it’s hard for me to keep my thoughts just on California,” Brown said. “We’ve seen the bald assertion of ‘alternative facts,’ whatever those are. We’ve heard the blatant attacks on science. Familiar signposts of our democracy — truth, civility, working together — have been obscured or even swept aside.”
But Brown was encouraged by the day of record-setting protests that followed Donald Trump’s inauguration:
[In] cities across the country, we also witnessed a vast and inspiring fervor that is stirring in the land. Democracy doesn’t come from the top; it starts and spreads in the hearts of the people. And in the hearts of Americans, our core principles are as strong as ever.
In a nice turn on the overused “American Exceptionalism,” Brown praised the state’s commitment to “the basic principles that have made California the Great Exception that it is.” (Turns out that “Great Exception” is a thing; it comes from the title of a 1949 book about the state).
Brown anticipated President Trump’s expected action to defund “sanctuary cities,” saying that while he recognized federal supremacy in setting and enforcing immigration law, the state isn’t about to abandon the measures it’s passed to protect undocumented immigrants, so get ready for some lawsuits:
We may be called upon to defend those laws and defend them we will. And let me be clear: We will defend everybody – every man, woman and child – who has come here for a better life and has contributed to the well-being of our state.
Brown also pledged to fight repeal of the Affordable Care Act, noting that over five million Californians now have coverage who didn’t before the ACA, and promised to join other governors in protecting health care. He also repeated his commitment to renewable energy and fighting climate change, and to support a plan to cut California’s greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030, which would put the state well ahead of national goals Barack Obama had agreed to before Trump took office. Politico notes that during confirmation hearings last week, Trump’s designee to head the EPA, Scott Pruitt, wouldn’t rule out the possibility that “the administration could seek to undermine California’s vehicle emission standards, a central piece of the state’s environmental agenda.” You know, because it’s bad for America if one state has cleaner air.
“Whatever they do in Washington, they can’t change the facts,” Brown said. “And these are the facts: The climate is changing, the temperatures are rising, and so are the oceans. Natural habitats everywhere are under stress.”
Brown said “the world knows this” and that states and other countries can work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions regardless of federal policy.
Now, if Trump wants to help pay for infrastructure, Brown wouldn’t say no. A state that generates as much tax revenue for the country can certainly argue it should get a good chunk of it back.
One thing Brown may not want to be too public about, unless he really wants to get into a fight with Trump: In the most recent polling, done back in September, Brown’s approval rating was at 60 percent, and we’d be willing to bet it will be even higher thanks to his taking on Trump. Brown can feel good about that without rubbing Trump’s face in it, we suppose.