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Northern California Politics In The Age Of Trump

Icky! Screen grab from YouTube.

Well, he’s done it again. At the annual gathering of right-wing lunatics known as CPAC a couple of Saturdays ago, President Donald Trump reached out and grabbed America by the … well, unfortunately, you know what I mean.

In what’s becoming his signature move, Trump lumbered on stage and groped the American flag standing to the right of the podium as Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the U.S.A.” reached its climax. The crowd of raucous supporters ejaculated their approval.

The rest of us sitting at home cringed—or at least those of us with some knowledge of the flag code did. I mean, I voted for this dude who’s taken to dry-humping Old Glory in public, our porn star-poking president (allegedly).

After two years of Trump, and the mainstream media that follows his every tweet, I feel sick, dirty and abused, and I’m not alone. Shasta County is supposed to be Trump country, but I don’t see a lot of people wearing red MAGA hats in public these days.

That’s not to say local Republicans, like 88 percent of their party nationally, don’t continue to support the president and his policies. But more than a few have to be wondering, what the heck is wrong with this guy?

Attn: Brian Dahle, please stop sending me campaign fliers.

At any rate, the apparent Republican front-runners in the 1st State Senate District special primary election on March 26, 6th District Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, and our own 1st District Assemblyman Brian Dahle, aren’t directly channeling Trump in their race to replace the seat being vacated by Republican Ted Gaines. In many ways, it can be said Trump has been channeling them all along.

Like the First Congressional District held by Republican Rep. Doug LaMalfa, the 1st State Senate District, situated in the state’s mostly rural northeast quadrant, was Tea Party territory long before it was Trump Country. While liberal or simply less conservative voters in the suburbs of Sacramento and small cities like Grass Valley, Chico and Redding somewhat dilute this hardcore, ultra-conservative Republicanism, in order to win elections, Republican candidates must run hard-right.

Or at least that’s what they’ve been doing for 30 years, as long as I’ve lived in northern California. In primary elections, especially with the state’s recently added “top two” system, this often leads to comical results when Republicans try to out-Republican Republicans.

For example, I don’t know what the Kiley campaign said about Dahle’s stance on undocumented immigrants, but it was enough to provoke Dahle’s campaign to place the candidate’s support for Trump’s vanity border wall on the front page of its website:

“Brian Dahle is tough on illegal immigration. He backs the border wall, opposes amnesty and led the fight against sanctuary cities. Don’t believe Kevin Kiley’s dishonest smear campaign which makes false claims about Brian’s record. For the truth visit VoteSmart.org.”

As far as I can tell, Kiley hasn’t gone full wall, and a quick trip to VoteSmart.org did indeed demonstrate that Dahle has voted “no” on four times as many pro-undocumented immigrant bills than his competitor, if only because he’s 20 years older and has been elected to three terms in the Assembly compared to newcomer Kiley’s one.

For the record, all of the bills passed the super majority Democratic-controlled Assembly and Senate anyway.

I continue to be confused by the animus of northern California Republicans toward undocumented immigrants. The First State Senate District is 80 percent white, 10 percent Latino and no one who lives here honestly believes too many illegal brown people is one of our most pressing issues.

Maybe they’re just doing it for the votes. That apparently is dark horse Republican candidate Theodore Dziuba’s plan.

“I am running for state Senate to stop illegal immigration,” the Placerville resident and software engineer states on his website. “Ending the sanctuary state is a moral duty.”

National Nurses United not thrilled California’s Democrats killed single-payer healthcare—for now. From Twitter.

Both Dahle and Kiley claim they’ll fight the liberals in Sacramento while simultaneously “working across the aisle” to ensure the district’s most pressing needs are met. Being the minority party, that means occasionally taking credit for Democratic achievements—or failures.

Dahle shamelessly takes credit for a law that directs up to $1 billion from the state cap-and-trade program to be spent on forest health and fire prevention programs. He conveniently leaves out that he voted against extending cap-and-trade in 2017, a vote that helped him gain leadership of the Republican Assembly after Chad Mayes, a moderate who supported the cap-and-trade extension, was forced out.

Neither candidate mentions anthropogenic climate change in their campaign materials. How could they? They’re all about rolling back regulations and taxes, two tools we drastically need to prepare for the warming climate.

Both candidates take credit for the failure of Healthy California in 2017, which was actually a victory for the special interests they’re always railing on about, this time the healthcare industry, which influenced California’s Democratic-controlled Legislature to shelve the bill because it was “too expensive.”

The bill, SB 562, would have begun the establishment of a single-payer healthcare system in California. No one actually knows exactly what a statewide single-payer system would cost, because the bill doesn’t contain a funding mechanism (clever Democrats!). Both Dahle and Kiley claim its shelving saved us $400 billion in taxes.

No doubt Rex Hime, the fourth Republican candidate in the race, would save us even more.

“I have dedicated my private sector career to fighting taxes, because I understand the damage that excessive taxation has on families and small businesses,” he states on his website.

Needless to say, all four Republicans in the race are as tough on crime as they are on taxes. Somehow, as the minority party, they’re going to undo 10 years of criminal justice reform and lock up all the opiate addicts, ignoring that a primary rationale for the reforms was that the state could no longer afford to send low-level offenders to prison.

It all gets a bit tiresome, this conservative blathering, election after election. When a candidate speaks an honest word, it stands out like a daisy in a minefield. Asked by the Record Searchlight what differentiates her from the other candidates, Democratic contender for 1st District State Senate seat Silke Plueger offered this breath of fresh air:

“For starters, I’m the only Democrat in the race. We have tried having Republican representatives for a long time and it hasn’t worked for the North State. It’s time for change.”

No kidding! The Truckee resident may not have a chance in hell in the conservative 1st District, but at least she speaks the truth more than twice a day. Go to her website and the first message you’ll see is this:

“Climate change is real.”

How much more truth do you need?

R.V. Scheide

R.V. Scheide has been a northern California journalist for more than 20 years. He appreciates your comments and story ideas. He can be emailed at RVScheide@anewscafe.com.

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