OG-SAN: The Stage Is Set

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By WARREN FURUTANI

The stage has been set. President Trump has declined the responsibility of national leadership in everything but press conferences and hyperbole.

Initially, after a slow start, he was helpful. He provided some states with support like using the Army Corps of Engineers to build field hospitals, by docking hospital ships in New York and Los Angeles and other assistance.

Now, he has basically directed each state to deal with key COVID-19-related issues on their own. Testing, purchasing and production of PPE and when and how to reopen their respective economies — all have been punted to the states by the president.

Gov. Newsom has stepped into this breach and the importance of Washington to California’s well-being has greatly diminished. In fact, rather than looking to D.C. for guidance, California has firmly established its ability to stand on its own.

For example, the governor has negotiated California’s own deal to purchase greatly needed N-95 masks from a China-based company. The governor has also worked with “Left Coast” governors to establish a leadership base that is regional in its outlook (Western States Pact).

Washington, D.C. has become less and less relevant. People are cynical about the federal government’s ability to get things done. No matter who wins the presidency, if the partisan party split continues between the House and Senate, the usual government paralysis will continue.

The K Street crowd (lobbyists) still has its fingers on the scale. Wall Street continues to get the lion’s share of any governmental help while Main Street begs for the remaining crumbs. It’s still a rigged game.

But, governors like Gavin Newson have taken their rightful place as clear-thinking and action-based leaders. Also, others from different sectors of society have exhibited leadership bona fides they can parlay into influencing public and economic policy.

For example, Bill and Melinda Gates have proven their insightful intelligence and more importantly their willingness to put their resources where their mouths are. Note, they just bought a home in San Diego County.

Locally, leaders like the publisher of The L.A. Times, Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, showed that a medical doctor and philanthropist can impact policy and lead. By the way, Dr. Fauci should get the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of all our public health experts and healthcare providers.

As the fifth-largest economy in the world, California can now flex a nation/state type status internationally. As the governor did in the early days of his administration, he can further establish regional partnerships with our neighboring nations to the south. It makes geo-political and economic sense. Also, being an active and major player on the Pacific Rim, California further turns its trade and economic attentions to the nations of Asia and the Pacific.

With Washington’s paralysis and Trump having already relinquished the role of a genuine national leader for all, not just his political base, a potential Biden presidency will be a “bridge over troubled waters.” The VP, whoever she is, will have to lead the country into the future.

But the country is going to reorganize itself on regional common and mutual interests. States like California and New York are going to demand more bang for their federal tax buck. California is arguably a “donor state,” meaning it gives more in federal taxes than it receives in federal government services, resources and support.

The federal government will still provide the military and some other umbrella-type services. But the dynamic part of government, the part that can react to and act on crisis, the part that will determine what the future holds, will be regionally and state-based as it’s becoming in post-pandemic America.

As the largest, most populous state, blessed with a food horn of plenty, a pace-setter and leader in technology, a leading producer of alternative energy sources and resources, home of the entertainment capital of the world, with the fifth-largest economy in the world, California is a nation/state and in the post pandemic world will act accordingly.

Joe Biden says he’s an Obama/Biden Democrat. Bernie defines himself as a democratic socialist. If the speaker had her way she’d relegate the Republican Party to the scrap heap of history.

We are California Democrats; we have a California type of socialism. We almost have Medicare for all. Let’s call it Cali-care. We already have a “Green Deal.” It’s not new. We have the best higher education system in the world and it used to be tuition-free. It can be again. We’re the home of Silicon Valley and Silicon Beach. Were the most ethnically and racially diverse nation/state in the world and we have great weather. Last, a California Republican in any other state is a moderate Democrat.

Yes, we have earthquakes, wild fires and a homeless issue that needs to be addressed and solved, but we’ll get to that soon enough.

California, a nation/state!

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Warren Furutani has served on the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education, on the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees, and in the California State Assembly. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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