Trump has big plans for California if he wins a second term. Fasten your seat belts

(Alex Brandon/Associated Press)

Trump has big plans for California if he wins a second term. Fasten your seat belts

Elections 2024, California politics

Doyle McManus

March 18, 2024

Donald Trump is taking on California again.

In his campaign to win a second term, the former president regularly denounces the state as a terrifying dystopia, the inevitable product, he claims, of democratic politics.

The place is failing, he said at a conservative conference last month.

[CPAC, February.]

It has become a symbol of the decline of our country, he told Republicans in California last year.

[CA GOP convention, September]

They have no water, he said. Rich people in Beverly Hills [are] they only allowed a small amount of water when showering. That’s why rich people from Beverly Hills generally don’t smell very good.

He blamed Gov. Gavin Newsom for telling undocumented immigrants: If you come forward, you’ll get pension funds. Well, give you a mansion. (Newsom never promised pension funds or mansions to migrants.)

According to Trump, current policy allows the state to remove children from their parents and sterilize them. (California does not seize children to sterilize them.)

He has destroyed California, Trump said of the governor, whom he recently gave a new and strikingly unappealing nickname: Gavin New-Scum.

California bashing has, of course, become a standard feature of Republican Party rhetoric. A national survey for The Times this year found that nearly half of Republicans believe the state is not truly American.

What makes Trump’s version more than just whining is that he could become president next year, and he has big plans for California if he wins.

He has pledged to use a broader view of presidential power to overturn state laws and policies on many fronts, including areas like law enforcement and education where traditionally the states, not the federal government, have been in charge.

A few examples:

He says he will close the U.S.-Mexico border on his first day in office, the day he has set aside to act as dictator and launch the largest domestic deportation operation in U.S. history.

His Santa Monica-born immigration adviser, Stephen Miller, says that if Democratic states like California don’t cooperate, Trump could order National Guard units from red states like Texas to cross their borders, a recipe for a constitutional crisis.

Trump has pledged to eliminate President Biden’s programs to promote renewable energy, including subsidies for electric vehicles and charging stations. His advisers have proposed limiting California’s power to set fuel emissions standards for cars.

He says the state will stop the state from releasing water from the Sacramento River into the Pacific Ocean to protect the Sacramento Delta. We won’t let them get away with that anymore, he said. (Water experts say it would be impractical and environmentally disastrous to completely divert the river’s flow. Newsom has already been suspended


environmental laws to send more water to reservoirs and is preparing to build a new water tunnel under the delta.)

Trump says he will send federal law enforcement officers to Oakland and other cities to stop rampant shoplifting. If you rob a store, you can expect to be shot as you leave the store! he said.

And he says he will sue health care providers in California if they comply with a state law that prohibits releasing gender-related medical care information to other states. (He called the law a sick Californian scheme to violate federal anti-kidnapping laws [and] sex trafficking.)

These proposals suggest that a second Trump term, like the first, would lead to major clashes between the White House and California’s Democratic state government. “If campaign promises have any meaning, you’re not just looking at a second term; you are looking at Trump on steroids,” said Larry Gerston, professor emeritus of political science at San Jose State University. “The impact on California would be very real. For example, abruptly removing large numbers of undocumented immigrants would disrupt all of our lives… and be a major blow to the economy.” added this quote: “It’s easy to imagine some epic battles,” says Donald F. Kettl of the University of Texas, an expert on federal-state relations. ‘And that seems clear to me

Gavin Newsom

would be the point of the spear.”[NOTE:omittedthisquote[NOTE:subbedoutthisquote[LETOP:hebditcitaatweggelaten[NOTE:subbedoutthisquote

Many of these proposals are innovations from Trump’s first term as president from 2017 to 2021. Some, such as his attempt to repeal California emissions standards, were blocked by


lawsuits by states.

But Trump may have a better chance of success the second time around.

His first term started with little preparation and no detailed transition plan. This time, he will likely appoint a more thoroughly Trumpified White House staff and Cabinet, with fewer moderates hitting the brakes.

The Supreme Court, with three Trump appointees in its six-seat majority, is also friendlier.

And pro-Trump policymakers have already produced a 920-page handbook of policy proposals for a second Trump term, Project 2025.

This is a very big problem, said Donald F.


from the University of Texas, an expert on federal-state relations. At the end of Trump’s first term, there was frustration among his aides that they had finally figured out what they wanted to do, but were running out of time. For four years they made plans, learned from their mistakes and created an action plan.

Some of their ideas


are still difficult to implement, Kettl noted.

It would be very difficult to send troops into the country to search for migrants awaiting court hearings, he said.

But even the less belligerent actions Trump has proposed could have major consequences for California and other Western states. I will go into more detail about it in future columns.


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