Californians in open revolt against Trump


Americans are celebrating the annual Presidents’ Day holiday – with the most populous state in open revolt against the current occupant of the White House.

The state, which Mr Trump lost to Hillary Clinton by four million votes in November, has long been seen as a potential bulwark to the Trump agenda.

Politicians in the state have vowed to take action to block or slow controversial Trump policies on issues like immigration and the environment.

But a network of grassroots groups has also now mobilised – and has hijacked tactics used by the conservative Tea Party movement to impact the political agenda.

An anti-Trump march in Los Angeles calling for human rights and dignity for immigrants
Image Caption:An anti-Trump march in Los Angeles calling for human rights and dignity for immigrants

Already activists have taken their protest directly to local representatives with noisy and disruptive protests at their regular ‘town hall’ meetings. Some members of Congress are now cancelling such meetings.

“I’m not a political activist by nature. It is not something I want to be doing but I feel like I have to be doing it and I think that everybody feels that way,” said Tia Tuenge.

She is a member of the Westside Coalition for a Free America – a resistance movement bubbling in a leafy and usually quiet residential area.

“Everybody feels in jeopardy and we have to take action.”

'Everybody feels in jeopardy and we have to take action,' says Tia Tuenge
Image Caption:Tia Tuenge claims everybody feels in jeapordy

Her fellow member Patty Sheaff added: “With Donald Trump’s inauguration and presidency, he is divisive and he’s destroying everything that personally I have held precious.”

Critics of the movement warn that California risks retribution from the Trump White House with the possibility of funding being withheld. They also say protesters are just sore losers.

But the resistance in California has even given rise to the talk of ‘Calexit’. If enough signatures can be collected, state residents will vote on leaving the union next year.

Ultimately, even if Californians vote ‘yes’ to seceding it would need to be approved by Congress, making it unlikely.

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Seema Mehta, political writer at the Los Angeles Times, said: “We’d have to have the other states approve it and California is the sixth or seventh largest economy in the world.

“So if the US were to lose California this would be an enormous problem, to lose Silicon Valley and Hollywood, the rest of the country is not going to let us go.

“But people enjoy talking about it because culturally it feels very different to a lot of the country right now.”

Mr Trump did win one small district in Beverly Hills – a place where he also owns a house – but the resistance movement has even reached that swanky part of town.

“The resistance is important because there’s a lot of things that are questionable that he’s continuing to do, a lot of things that are illegal or unethical,” said Katy Segal. “We have to say something.”

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Little Marvin put it more bluntly: “I think the only sane response is resistance.”

But Trump voter Matt Temple says people who share his political views are being silenced in California.

What does he say to the resistance movement? “I can’t say a word because I live in LA it would jeopardise my job.”

Mr Trump admitted recently that his big early ambition was to be a Hollywood movie mogul – it might have made him more popular than his eventual career direction.


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