Published in the San Francisco Chronicle on November 11, 2016
Tuesday night was not the best time for me, a San Francisco candidate, to celebrate my likely election to the California Senate. With the horrific news that Donald Trump had been elected U.S. president, it was a little bit like celebrating your birthday on 9/11.
Trump’s election is bad news for progressives on so many levels. We value our immigrant communities, while Trump wants to deport 11 million undocumented residents and ban Muslims. We fight to address climate change and the drought, while Trump denies that global warming even exists. We fight for gender equity and access to reproductive health services, while Trump demeans women and attacks Planned Parenthood. I could go on.
Some want California to secede from the Union — #Calexit. Even if that were in the realm of possibility, it’s not the right approach. California has a critical role to play in restoring sanity, balance and progressive values in this country. I want the likes of Reps. Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Lee, Jackie Speier and Senator-elect Kamala Harris, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein fighting for us — and for working families and marginalized communities across the country who aren’t represented by such fierce leaders.
And, here at home we must lead the way. The California Legislature has long played a leadership role on many key needs. We lead on climate change. We lead on LGBT civil rights and supporting immigrant communities. We lead on paid family leave and health care. We lead on protecting our waterways and our coastline. We lead on worker protections.
California needs to lead even more emphatically. We must counter-balance the parade of disasters that is certain to emanate from this president’s policies and actions and this Congress. When Trump and the Republican congressional leadership deny climate change, California needs to move even more aggressively toward a 100 percent renewable energy future, by reducing petroleum use, shoring up cap-and-trade to fund a clean-energy future, and entering into regional and even international agreements to move forward.
When they try to ban transgender people from using the restroom corresponding to their gender or tell Muslims they are not “real Americans,” we need to embrace these communities and welcome them with open arms. When they try to drain the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta of fresh water and collapse the San Francisco Bay’s ecosystem, we need to move even more aggressively toward a modern water system with dramatically more water recycling. When they try to end the Affordable Care Act — which provides health care to millions who lacked it before — we need to create our own universal health programs and explore a single-payer model. When they move to raid and deport hard-working immigrants, we need to protect these residents and tell the feds to back off.
Those of us with the honor of serving in elected office have a solemn responsibility to play defense against Republican federal overreach while also continuing to push the envelope on progressive policy. Yet “everyone” has a responsibility to be energized and active. Join your local Democratic Club. Get involved with advocacy groups that hold our feet to the fire. Identify key U.S. Senate and House battlegrounds in the next congressional election, support good candidates there, and campaign for them.
We will survive Trump, but we have to get to work and fight back against what’s coming. California will play a key role in helping the entire nation thrive, heal, and move forward.
Scott Wiener is leading in the state senate race to represent San Francisco and northern San Mateo County.