Center of Resistance in (especially Northern?) California has its own American progressive allure in spring 2017

May 5th, 2017 | By | Category: USA Today

At Lagunitas Brewing on the outskirts of Petaluma, CA, late April 2017.

Why am I not surprised that I am yet again stuck with drafting another counterweights editors travelogue  – this time visiting the technical support masters in the (especially Northern) California bear-flag republic? Among the key current alleged insights submitted :

* ASIA IN AMERICA ON THE PACIFIC COAST. On the Atlantic coast the USA is still mostly about Europe and America (with an increasingly recognized crucial sidebar from Africa). On the Pacific it’s more and more about Asia and America. (Cf, eg, the Netflix TV series Master of None – which we first saw in Mill Valley, CA, even though it “was created by Aziz Ansari and Alan Yang, and stars Ansari in the lead role of Dev, a 30-year-old actor who attempts to make his way through life in New York City.”)

* TPP REALLY DEAD? Obama’s multicultural Hawaiian youth helped him here. The Trans Pacific Partnership that Trump has backed away from (largely in fear?) tried to step further in this direction. (As in, sort of, George Orwell’s 1947 prophecy : “It may be that Europe is finished and that in the long run some better form of society will arise in India or China.” And note too : “’Secret’ TPP Trade Meetings Being Held In Toronto This Week” by Daniel Tencer at The Huffington Post Canada, posted on the afternoon of Tuesday, May 2, 2017.)

At the Depot, Mill Valley, CA.

* NO WAR ON CARS. In California even progressive politics remains in unbreakable thrall to the automobile. Life everywhere is like living in a parking lot and the most touted transportation future is the self-driving car. Despite a new Transbay Transit Center “at First and Mission streets, with accommodations for future high-speed rail service,” and several miles of track in the Central Valley, (Obama’s?) fast trains from San Francisco to Los Angeles remain an impossible dream.

* GEOGRAPHY & THE DONNER PARTY. Geography is both California’s stunning great attraction and omnipresent danger. The Donner Party’s tragic “winter of 1846—47 snowbound in the Sierra Nevada” – also on TV during our visit – foretold the continuing dark side of Golden State geography. (And topography too of course – and note as well : “Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, a major road in Marin County … closed for the second time this week [well late this past February actually!] between Fairfax and Woodacre due to a landslide over White’s Hill.”)

A few further notes

Misty morning out the window in Mill Valley, CA.

* CALIFORNIA’S AMERICAN PATRIOTISM. Canadians are often surprised  that California today has more people than all of Canada (like once-most-populous New York State in an earlier era). California could be its own UN member state too. Yet as all the stars-and-stripes accompanying the state bear flag and even flying alone testify, the Golden State is finally just too American as well as proudly Californian. (Even as “Latinos” now constitute the single largest cultural/ethnic group – ahead of “Whites,” to say nothing of “Blacks” and even “Asians”).

* BIGGEST & OTHER PROGRESSIVE STATES TODAY. Compare Conor Lynch’s apt-enough scepticism (see below) and the best of what you get in progressive California to what you, equally disparately and diversely, get in New York or Massachusetts or Illinois and sometimes its northern hinterlands. (And maybe even Virginia or North Carolina, and Texas not too much further down the road – and even today Colorado, Nevada, Oregon, Washington [State] and certainly Bernie Sanders’s Moonlight in Vermont. With apologies to anyone I have ineptly left out, in the depths of my Canadian lack of real US local knowledge.)

Lady from Mexico and lady from Canada in California, spring 2017.

* SIR FRANCIS DRAKE BOULEVARD IN MARIN COUNTY. We had some agreeable direct contact with the new Latino plurality in California during our visit (you might guess how). But you do not need direct contact with anyone to see just how much real work in today’s Golden regional economy is done by Mexican-Americans. Pass by anything under construction, eg, and see how the most indigenous America that is still so important in Mexico is increasingly important in Northern California too. At the same time, history also reports that Anglo Americans have had to navigate the Spanish / First Nations / Mestizo heritage of early California right from the start. One of their tools has been the near-legend of a late 16th century English presence in the San Francisco Bay Area, commemorated today in “Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, a major road in Marin County … closed for the second time this week [well late this past February actually!] between Fairfax and Woodacre due to a landslide over White’s Hill.”

Peace in the valley.

* CENTER OF THE RESISTANCE! As Bill Maher says, California today is also the great center of Resistance to Donald Trump’s often astonishing ignorance of real American history and much else. And in the end this does excuse all other faults …  As in “California, here I come / Right back where I started from … A sun kissed miss said ‘Don’t be late!’ … Open up that Golden Gate! / California, here I come!” (Or, one thing I personally think Conor Lynch neglects in his compelling 2015 posting on the Salon site – “What Karl Marx got right about America’s twisted form of democracy” – is the almost-authentic progressive regional democracy of the early 21st century in the USA’s most populous state,  especially on display, all sides of the tracks, in the various Bay Areas / Silicon Valley / San Jose Sharks of Northern California.)

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