Magazine article The New Yorker

States vs. Trump

Magazine article The New Yorker

States vs. Trump

Article excerpt

States vs. Trump

The wake of the Presidential election has stirred an array of reactions--grief, denial, outrage, bewilderment--among the liberals and the progressives who supported Hillary Clinton. Her loss, scarcely predicted in the polls, and therefore all the more shocking to the people who voted for her (and who outnumber her opponent's supporters by more than a million and counting), has become a case study in political trauma. Donald Trump's victory inspired another, less noted reaction that may prove more politically significant than the current wave of demoralization: defiance.

On the day after the election, Kevin de Leon, the pro-tempore president of the California Senate, and Anthony Rendon, the speaker of the California Assembly, released a joint statement whose opening sentence--"Today, we woke up feeling like strangers in a foreign land"--perfectly summarized the disorientation that millions of Americans were experiencing. More important, the statement pointed out that Trump's bigotry and misogyny were at odds with California's values of inclusiveness and tolerance, and, the authors vowed, "we will lead the resistance to any effort that would shred our social fabric or our Constitution."

Three days later, Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, after initially flirting with the idea that Trump could be a "bonus" for the state, posted a statement on Facebook, arguing that New Yorkers "have fundamentally different philosophies than what Donald Trump laid out in his campaign." Cuomo was tacitly accusing the President-elect--who is a New Yorker--of a kind of betrayal. He continued:

Whether you are gay or straight, Muslim or Christian, rich or poor, black or white or brown, we respect all people in the state of New York.

It's the very core of what we believe and who we are. But it's not just what we say, we passed laws that reflect it, and we will continue to do so, no matter what happens nationally. We won't allow a federal government that attacks immigrants to do so in our state.

That line of thought carried down the chain of command. Both Eric Garcetti and Bill de Blasio, the mayors of Los Angeles and New York, vowed to protect vulnerable populations in their cities. (Sanctuary cities across the nation, including Chicago, Seattle, and Denver, did the same, even though Trump threatened to defund them.) Charlie Beck, the chief of the L.A.P.D., added, "We are not going to work in conjunction with Homeland Security on deportation efforts. That is not our job, nor will I make it our job."

These announcements cannot be dismissed as simply the whiny objections of the coastal elites. Thirty-nine million people live in California--twelve per cent of the population of the United States. The state is home to the economic and cultural axes of Silicon Valley and Hollywood. Last year, its economy became the sixth largest in the world, a spot formerly held by France. Clinton beat Trump by twenty-eight points in California, and by twenty-one points in New York. Now the two states have triggered an uncommon development in a year that has offered us a great number of them: liberals invoking states' rights.

We have become accustomed to governors denouncing overreach by the federal government. …

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