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Trump Up the Volume

California Republicans in the era of Trump


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Vote counters on the Hill were already pointing out that there was no way McCarthy could gather the votes needed to ascend to Boehner's chair, and Chaffetz went over to after his announcement and told reporters that McCarthy doesn't have the speaking skills to be speaker. McCarthy was already famous in Congress for his way with the malapropism, which is a polite way of saying that he's not very articulate.

Meanwhile, Benghazi, Benghazi and Benghazi! Oh yeah, and immigration too.

Even as the national Republican Party has pivoted hard right, the California state Republican Party has started to lay off the immigrant-bashing rhetoric.

In advance of its convention in September, the state party defanged some of its immigration plank—in apparent recognition of the fact that Trump is a looming demographic disaster of the highest order.

For his contribution to a necessary national conversation around immigration, Trump has pledged to forcibly remove 11 million undocumented immigrants now living here. There's somewhere around 1.5 million in this state alone, many in the agricultural sector, working in the proverbial shadows.

Along the way, Trump promises he'll force all those Syrian refugees back to their home country, too, or whatever's left of it. It seems like a lot of what Trump stands for has to do with forcibly removing people. According to his immigration plan, he also plans to force American employers to hire American workers if elected president.

Noted North Bay progressive-author and former congressional candidate Norman Solomon says nobody with a clue about American history should be surprised at the xenophobia driving the Trump phenomenon. "If undocumented workers disappeared from the North Bay, a lot of the economic growth and functioning of the county would disappear," he says. "That's just the reality."

Solomon says the Trump phenomenon can be seen through the lens of a country that's experienced tough financial times and is now angling for scapegoats. Lost your 401k in 2008 because of Lehman Brothers, and now you're bagging groceries at Whole Foods? Bash Hector!

Trump has stepped into a breach where a silent minority no longer remains silent, and who will say and do the darnedest things in the service of Trump America. Much of that battle has played out in the anonymously enraged avenues of the internet and right-wing radio. The image of a thoroughly progressive North Bay is undercut, and sharply, through just a cursory spin through a couple of weeks' worth of North Bay rants-and-raves on Craigslist.

Indeed, last summer's killing of Kathryn Steinle by an undocumented alien along San Francisco's Embarcadero put that city's "sanctuary" status in the national crosshairs—and sanctuary cities across the country right along with it.

Solomon recalls that in 2010, when Sonoma County Supervisor David Rabbitt was running against Pam Torliatt, xenophobe politics raised its ugly head right here. Torliatt was asked in a campaign event whether she would consider voting to make Sonoma County a sanctuary county. A subsequent mailer (not issued by the Rabbitt campaign) stoked fears of unhinged Mexican violence should Sonoma go that route—and invoked a murder in San Francisco to make the point. Sound familiar? The county passed on becoming a sanctuary destination, and Torliatt got creamed in the election.

McCuan says immigration and the sanctuary issue will likely find its way onto ballot measures in around half the states in 2016—a great issue for "tilting at windmills" he says. "Trump has unleashed but really just revisited the issue," McCuan says about immigration, an issue that will serve to stimulate Republican turnout in 2016.

McCuan sees a future California GOP as one that focuses its efforts on hyper-local races—school boards, planning commissions—and uses the ballot process to fan the flames of anti-immigrant sentiment. The most extreme end of the state party is the California Republican Assembly, he says, and that organization is hell-bent on rebuilding the farm team via local elections, regardless of what the state party does or doesn't do when it comes to immigrants.

So there's a disconnect on undocumented immigration between the national party and the California GOP—and within the state party itself—but at least they agree on one thing: Benghazi. That story has trickled all the way down to local Republican committees, like so much supply-side manna from Libya.

The Sonoma County Republican Committee was one of several county GOP outlets that participated in an event last month (Solano and Napa counties were also in attendance) where Benghazi was on the agenda, in the form of an appearance by serviceman Kris Tanto Paronto who was in Libya when four Americans were killed. His appearance was held in advance of the January 2016 release of 13 Hours that partisans say is going to be the final nail in the Clinton coffin. Even worse than those emails she deleted.

13 Hours is promoted as the film that will prove once and for all that Barack Obama hates Americans so much that he let them die while Clinton stood there and did nothing. Who gave the order to stand down? Nobody. But he's a Muslim, she's a bitch, end of story. Vote Trump! The candidate recently issued a very screwy video that accused Clinton of dancing with her husband while Benghazi burned. She is not named, but the scrolled text accuses politicians of "having fun" during the catastrophe.



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