President Donald Trump loves bashing California—its “ridiculous” sanctuary cities, its “gross mismanagement” of its forests, even the “disgusting” streets of San Francisco. He also enjoys slagging California liberals, like House Intelligence Committee Chair “Liddle” Adam Schiff, House Financial Services Committee Chair “Low IQ” Maxine Waters, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who “has behaved so irrationally & gone so far to the left that she has now officially become a Radical Democrat.” On Wednesday, after Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom decided to scale back the state’s troubled high-speed rail project, the president gleefully mocked it as a green fiasco: “Send the Federal Government back the Billions of Dollars WASTED!”
Now that progressive Democrats are pushing for a California-style Green New Deal to fight climate change, and progressive California Senator Kamala Harris has become a front-runner for the Democratic nomination to challenge Trump, the president’s allies have begun framing 2020 as a last stand against the hippie-lefty Californication of America. Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk has warned that “Democrats want California to be the blueprint for America,” while Dan Patrick, the Republican lieutenant governor of Texas, has suggested that Trump’s reelection slogan should be: “I’m not going to let the Democrats turn America into California.”
But while the problem of unaffordable housing is a real drag on growth, and a real threat to the social and economic mobility that drives the California dream, it’s the kind of problem that only desirable places have. There’s plenty of affordable housing in Siberia. “We attract people that places like Mississippi can’t,” Lieu boasts. Nancy Pfund, a Bay Area venture capitalist and “impact investor” who took early stakes in Tesla and Pandora, says California is still a magnet for talent, because it’s still a breeding ground for disruption. She’s now investing in local companies like Zola Electric, which is taking Silicon Valley solar technology to Africa; Apeel Sciences, which has created natural plant-based coatings that keep produce fresh for longer, attacking the food waste problem in a different way; and even the Real Real, the luxury consignment platform that helps consumers recycle their brand-name fashion and reduce the demand for manufacturing more of it.
“In California, we’ve got the combination of capital, innovation, and regulations that reward investments in progress,” Pfund says. “And that’s created an ecosystem of entrepreneurs who want to spread the progress around the world.”