California’s progressive lean

Thomas Chesy

The anger Californians feel after President-elect Donald Trump’s stunning victory is understandable; the people of the state have voted Hillary Clinton for president three times now across two primaries and a general election. It’s no wonder they’re protesting. But these protesters, as well as all Californians, should be sure not to forget about the extraordinarily progressive legislation they approved on election night.

The California ballot proposition system, introduced in 1911, paved the way for more than a century of progressive legislation in the state starting with Proposition 4, which gave women the right to vote in California nine years before the 19th Amendment was ratified. Today, as of the general election held in November, Californians have continued to show a penchant for forward thinking and early-adoption of common-sense legislation.

Key propositions passed by California Voters:

  • Prop. 55: Maintains an income tax-increase on wealthy Californians for the benefit of K-12 schools and community colleges.
  • Prop. 58: Allows bilingual instruction in California public schools.
  • Prop. 63: Bans high-capacity ammunition magazines and prohibits some individuals from buying guns.
  • Prop. 64: Legalizes recreational marijuana.
  • Prop. 67: Bans single-use plastic grocery bags.

The passage of these initiatives shows a more independent mindset shared by voters in California in contrast to the rest of the country. As author Daniel Duane put it in a recent New York Times Op-Ed, “I wish we all could be Californian.” Californian, in this case, meaning prosperous, tolerant, and indispensable.

Many of these initiatives, however, are in direct conflict with Trump’s views, as well as those of his Cabinet nominees and his voters, who inhabit far less “Californian” states.

On the issue of legal marijuana, while Trump himself has indicated that he would leave marijuana legalization up to the states, his recent pick for Health and Human Services Secretary differs substantially on the subject. Representative Tom Price (R-Ga.), selected by Trump on Nov. 29, has repeatedly voted against any effort to soften federal laws against marijuana legislation, according to The Washington Post.

The issue of Second Amendment rights is another sticking point against the success of California’s new legislation. Trump was endorsed by the NRA in May, and has stated through his website that he would fully support the right to carry a firearm across the country.

“National right to carry – should be legal in all 50 states,” read a statement on

Whatever the outcome, the stage has been set for ideological confrontation between the most diverse and most populous state in the union and the president of that union. At least for the time being, Californians should be proud of the firm, progressive message sent to the incoming Trump administration.