Philosophically, my explanation is that all the big wedge issues have already been settled, and now everyone is hyper-entrenched in their own identities. The Bible Belt is God, Guns, and Glory. The Rust Belt is blue collar mill-worker country. The West Coast is liberal Mecca. You can get all these tropes just from watching the first minute of David Lee Roth’s “California Girls” music video. The wedge issues (abortion laws, sexual orientation laws, gender identity laws, etc.) fall accordingly based upon the state identity.
So California Attorney General Xavier Becerra recently rolled out a new law that prohibits state funded/sponsored travel to the great state of Texas, as well as Kentucky, Alabama, and South Dakota. This was done in response to Texas Governor Greg Abbott signing a law that protected the religious beliefs of child adoption agencies in their respective states. This now makes eight states that California has prohibited state funded or sponsored travel to. Previously, former California Attorney General Kamala Harris had made the same prohibitions for travel to North Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Kansas due to the state’s handling of the transgender bathroom wedge issue.
What a dumb move on the behalf of California. It is mostly a symbolic gesture. Predictably, the clickbait media wants to refer to this as a “travel ban”, which disingenuously gives people the illusion that ALL Californians are prohibited from traveling to the 8 states. There will still be flights from LAX to Dallas. It’s only a ban on state funded travel, so it’s no big deal. I doubt it will even be enforced. California’s big shots in government are still going to travel to these states, and they aren’t going to be paying out of pocket to fly coach, nor are they going to fly to a neighboring state and driving the rest of the way. The “travel ban” is impotent and punishes nobody.
Why do the California state legislators feel compelled to publicly interfere with other state’s handing of wedge issues? I guess Xavier Becerra is hoping it will get him a future Congressional or Senate seat like Kamala Harris did. To the rest of the country, it is a move that resembles imperialistic behavior. Any reasonable minded person knows that states should not interfere with the values of other states, because the situation can get out of control very easily.
Take Texas for example. They have the second-largest economy in the country, so I find it reasonable to assume that, of the 8 states, Texas is the one that would be the most affected by this California legislature (assuming there’s any effect at all). Texas is certainly capable of retaliating with some kind of political leverage, but should they? Becerra’s virtue signaling legislature against Texas could set an extremely damaging precedent where states start actively penning legislation to punish one another over wedge issues. Should New York start working on legislation aimed to punish Georgia? What about Massachusetts and Louisiana? Which wedge issues should they single out and how far should they go with their punishments? It’s a can of worms that does not need to be opened, and Xavier Becerra should strongly reconsider before picking a fight with Texas.
California is in a strange state of flux right now. There has been a serious push to split the state into six separate states (The “Six Californias” ballot initiative), which mercifully failed to gain the necessary momentum to make it onto the 2016 ballot. Although the propaganda supporting the split has tremendous appeal in that the state is too big to effectively govern, the mere idea of Silicon Valley becoming a separate state unto herself is appalling. Silicon Valley, with all of her wealth and information technology, would immediately become the most powerful state in The Union. It is a consolidation of power that must never come to pass. There has also been sporadic (but mostly clickbait) developments in the possibility of a “CalExit” secession from the United States, but this scenario is far, far less likely than the Six Californias. Be that as it may, the muscle-flexing of their state legislators is quite alarming. Between CalExit, Six Californias, and now Travel-Banning, California’s legislators are demonstrating open hostility.
Then there’s the question of perception, how the story is spun, clickbait, the dumb masses, fake news, etc. A political move like this only encourages hive-mindedness and tribalism. It begs for people to examine their values, choose a side, and then name-call the other. I guess we will refer to this as the tired cliché “the message it sends”, though it pains me to use such awful language. Depending on your values, the message it sends is either A) Californians are commie liberal politically correct Nazis that hate God or B) Texans are dumb, backwater, inbred white Christian bigots. Pick A or B, then go hate one another for the rest of your wretched lives.
For what it’s worth though, I have to pick a side, don’t I? Fear not, I wouldn’t have bothered to write this column if I didn’t believe there was a side worth taking, so here it is:
Xavier Becerra will learn the hard lesson that you do NOT mess with Texas.