I hate-follow Northern California Congressman Doug LaMalfa on facebook, to see what the slack-jawed representative of my hometown (home forest, more accurately) is up to. LaMalfa has represented the north state in Sacramento and now D.C. since 2002, with the facile slogan, “He’s One of Us!” Insular, xenophobic, hypocritical (this critic of ‘big government’ raked in agricultural subsidies in his pre-political life), and loyal to his party’s delusional dogmas, LaMalfa has consistently opposed the expansion of public welfare, public institutions, and public infrastructure to a region that sorely needs to be better integrated into the political economy of the state and the region.
Deadbeat Doug recently “liked” an article in the LA Times which used the crumbling edifice of the Oroville Dam as a symbol of California’s own crumbing civic and moral edifice. The decline and degeneration narrative has been central to the success of Donald Trump, and his ragtag following of neo-fascists, know-nothings, white nationalists, and bomb-throwers.
But there has been a very real civic decline in California, of late. There is deep irony in LaMalfa’s endorsement of this narrative. LaMalfa's campaigns for office have been marked by his drumbeat repetition of the argument that the supposedly unique cultures of the North State ("He's One of Us!") are so fundamentally different from their southern brethren, that they have entirely different socioeconomic needs, and would not benefit from affordable public higher education, a reinvigorated preK-12 sector, robust public infrastructure, clean air, water, and soil, and a welfare state that closes the cracks through which too many Californians fall.
Deadbeat Doug, and his fellow swivel eyed economic fundamentalists have clipped the wings of the state and federal government. They have done so at the state level through their pledge-taking, oath-swearing antics, which allow their wealthy funders to put them on autopilot toward an austerity that punishes their corner of the state far more than it does the lefties they love to hate in San Francisco.
And they have done so at the federal level through their campaign of sabotage, and scorched earth tactics, designed specifically to decrease public confidence in public institutions, and bring the functioning of government to a halt. The only beneficiaries of their toxic campaign to bring to life their lie that “government doesn’t work,” are their plutocratic funders--the Donald Trumps of this world--who benefit from a deregulated, predatory economy.
Deadbeat Doug has marched in lockstep for a decade and a half with his gangster-like party, and now with the authoritarian Trump administration. That administration, in its bid to carve out a fantasyland alternative future, in which people derive satisfaction from violence toward those who are difference rather than from actual prosperity, is seeking to make an example of California, a state which represents a threatening reality: a vital, just, kind, diverse, and ambitious society, held back only by antediluvian troglodytes like LaMalfa and his fellow north state politicians.
LaMalfa’s constituents, conservative and liberal alike, will suffer from Trump’s efforts to crush California. They should be disturbed that rather than defending their livelihoods and the generous, ambitious, dynamic society their fellow citizens are trying to build, their representatives are colluding with a monstrous authoritarian who is seeking to eviscerate the public sphere, redistribute wealth to elites, and distract his supporters from his attacks on their livelihoods by goading them to turn on their neighbors.