Black Bart Nominee: The Donald—Who Else?

Sherry Bebitch Jeffe
Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, Ph.D., is Professor of the Practice of Public Policy Communication (Ret.), the Sol Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California

“Don’t get mad, get even,” was the political mantra of legendary California Democrat, Carmen Warschaw, Donald Trump has tweaked it a bit, when it comes to his dealings with the Golden State: “Do get mad and get even.” That modus operandi has earned Trump a nomination for this year’s  Black Bart Award.

He’s certainly not a Californian—he’s practically allergic to this state these days. But you have to admit that he’s “had a great impact on the state and on the attention of those who follow the Golden State’s politics for the year.” For three years in Trump’s case.

Observed Trump’s “failing” New York Times, “The state has been a political fixation since the early days of his presidency, but that was heightened this autumn. Mr. Trump has attended meetings, asked detailed questions at briefings and pressed aides to find ways to use policies to go after the most populous state in the union… Aides… describe him as obsessed with narrow policies that directly affect California.”

Donald Trump’s bumper-car relationship with California was cemented on November 8, 2016. Trump gained the Presidency by winning the Electoral College vote. But his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, snagged the popular vote by roughly a 3 million-vote margin, denying Trump total victory and ensuring that his election would forever carry an asterisk.

In that election, California gave Clinton a popular vote margin of roughly 4 million votes. Do the math. There’s no doubt that Trump did.

In the last three years , Trump has turned  the Golden State into an anti-Trump outpost and colored it even deeper blue in its politics-as he keeps attempting to block California’s environmental moves—or overturn them, to mock California’s diversity—and threaten it. He’s  hit Californians hard in the pocketbook with a tax plan tailored to do exactly that. He’s attempted to bollix California’s functioning health care programs. And, it can be argued, he did it to “get even.”

Donald Trump is not, as Fox and Hounds defines this award’s namesake, “a gentle soul but still involved in the dark arts of political give and take,” but his impact on the dynamics, the thrust, the rhythms of California government and politics earns him my nomination for the 2019 Black Bart Award.

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