That didn’t take long. Two days after Gavin Newsom was sworn in as the 40th Governor of California in a ceremony stolen by his wandering 2-year old son Dutch, crotchety old President Trump threatened to cut off FEMA relief to California’s firefighters and wildfire victims, already hit by the government shutdown.
“Billions of dollars are sent to the State of California for Forest fires that, with proper Forest Management, would never happen. Unless they get their act together, which is unlikely, I have ordered FEMA to send no more money. It is a disgraceful situation in lives & money!,” Trump tweeted Jan. 9 morning. Most of California’s forests are under federal jurisdiction.
This is a far cry from the kumbaya moment Nov. 17, 2018 when Trump joined Gov. Brown, Lt. Gov. Newsom, and Republican leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy for a tour of the devastation wrought by the Camp and Woosely wild fires, the worst fires in the California’s history. McCarthy later issued a press release saying: The message from the President to all Californians during the trip was clear when he said: ‘Anything we can do, you know we’re here.’”
McCarthy did not immediately condemn Trump’s threat to stop FEMA funding. Newsom took to twitter to snap back.
“Disasters and recovery are no time for politics. I’m already taking action to modernize and manage our forests and emergency responses. The people of CA — folks in Paradise — should not be victims to partisan bickering,” the new governor said in the first of three tweets.
“Mr. President — Just yesterday, @OregonGovBrown, @GovInslee, and I sent a letter asking the federal government to work with us in taking on these unprecedented wildfires. We have been put in office by the voters to get things done, not to play games with lives,” read Newsom’s tweets. “Pres. Trump’s go-to is governing by fear and division. We can secure our border AND achieve comprehensive immigration reform–without wasting tax payer $ to build a pointless wall. Hundreds of thousands of fed workers are waiting on a paycheck. End the games. Open our government.”
In his inauguration speech, Newsom promised “bold” action informed by principled morality—such as then-San Francisco Mayor Newsom first exemplified in 2004.
That notion – that we’re all in this together – is a powerful one. It’s also how I was raised. Some of you may know that I lost my father just before Christmas. He was a judge. Justice Bill Newsom. For him, ‘Justice’ was more than a title. It was in his bones. He believed to his core that all people should be treated fairly and with respect. That’s always been a bedrock ‘California value’ to me,” said Newsom.
“So 15 years ago, when I was a new mayor and I heard politicians in Washington sneering at ‘California values’ and attacking our LGBT community, I remembered what my father taught me: ‘It’s never the wrong time to do the right thing.’ And that’s what we did. In San Francisco, Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin, two women who had been in love for nearly 50 years, had the courage to stand up and say those two powerful words: I do. Thousands more followed in their footsteps. It took a long time, but love won,” the new governor said.
“Just like fifteen years ago, this is a time for courage. We will stand up for what’s right, and we will defend our people. My pledge to every Californian is this: no matter what comes at us, I will have your back!”
That goes for anyone seeking equality and sanctuary. “If we do this right, the progress we make will never be unmade,” Newsom said. “As Cesar Chavez said, ‘You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore.’”
Interestingly, standing up for LGBT people and marriage equality in the same year Karl Rove placed anti-gay marriage initiatives on ballots in 11 states to ensure George W. Bush’s re-election in 2004 resulted in a massive backlash against Newson. Prominent Democrats would fly into Los Angeles and refuse to meet or have their picture taken with the principled young upstart. But Newsom boldly persisted, first as mayor and now, within days of his inauguration, he seems to be having the last word.
And they are stirring words. “Every dream depends on the dreamers. It is up to us to renew the California Dream for a new generation. And now more than ever, it is up to us to defend it,” Newsom said, sounding Kennedy-esque.
“But let me be clear: We will be bold. We will aim high and we will work like hell to get there. Here in California, we will prove that people of good faith, and firm will can still come together to achieve big things. We will offer an alternative to the corruption and incompetence in the White House. Our government will be progressive, principled, and always on the side of the people,” he continued.
“This will take courage. That’s a word that means different things to different people. To me, courage means doing what is right even when it is hard,” Newsom said. “That will be the mission of our Administration. We will be a ‘California for all.’”