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California is ‘not really American.’ Thank you

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California is 'not really American.' Thank you

I’m not really American, and I couldn’t be prouder.

I hope you, my fellow Californians, feel the same way.

Because sometimes there’s no greater compliment than an intended insult. 

This time, the backhanded praise came in a recent Los Angeles Times survey that examined how Americans feel about California. 

Among the findings: Half of American adults believe our state is in decline. Dislike of the Golden State runs even deeper among conservatives. Two-thirds of Republicans in the suvey called the national impact of California “net negative.” 

And nearly half of Republicans consider Californians to be “not really American.”

The media treated this label “not really American” as harsh criticism. Two L.A. Times columnists, taking the bait, defended California as being very American. 

But why bother? Who in their right mind wants to be “really American” now?  In this century, our country has become defined by its anti-democratic fascism, rage and violence. Being considered less than American by other Americans should be considered an honor. Reading the poll, I wanted to print “Not Really American” T-shirts.

Disdain from the Americans isn’t new, either. It’s one of the few things that never changes here. The first best-selling book about California, “The Land of Gold: Reality versus Fiction”published in 1855 by S Hinton Helper — called California “an ugly cheat” and said “there is but lank promise in the future.” 

The journalist Carey McWilliams, perhaps California’s greatest interpreter, wrote in 1949: “One cannot, as yet, properly place California in the American scheme of things. … California is an anomaly, a freak, the great exception among the American states.”

Even Republicans, back when they ran the state, considered California’s singularity a virtue. But in the past two generations, as California grew more liberal, our distinctiveness came to be seen as disloyalty. 

In 2015, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia declared that California “does not count” as a “real” American state or as part of the U.S. West. Tellingly, he included this insult in his dissent from the decision legalizing same-sex marriage — which makes it another compliment in disguise.

Californians should preapre for more such compliments. Published plans for a new Trump administration, called Project 2025, would treat California as an American enemy. The plans seek not just to overturn California policies, but to punish Californians for having backed them in the first place. 

For instance, California’s “un-American” support for women’s rights and reproductive rights would be met with a Trump federal abortion ban at 15 weeks, as well as harsh penalties for Californians who keep providing the services. 

Our wise extension of health insurance, including Medicaid, to all our people, regardless of their legal status, would also be targeted. 

We’d lose the power to establish higher-than-American standards for fighting climate change and improving air quality.  

And of course, we’d pay a price for our not-really-American commitment to gun control. And we’d pay for protecting immigrants from Trump’s promised military-led deportation scheme, which is all but certain to sweep up U.S. citizens too, since half of California’s kids have an immigrant parent. 



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