California won't let President stamp his brand on the state

February 19, 2017

California Won't Let President Stamp his Brand on the State

By: Cathleen Galgiani

President Trump is bewildered. He doesn’t know what to make of California and its resistance to his policies. He thinks we’re “out of control.” Threatening a collective punishment on the entire state, he vows to take away federal funding if we don’t fall into line.

But more than anyone, Trump, a businessman who brands everything with the Trump logo, should understand that the root of our resistance stems from our own efforts to fiercely protect our brand, the identity of California and what we represent to the world.

At its core, the president’s policies threaten California’s standing in the world and the homegrown industries that prosper from the ingenuity of immigrants seeking the freedom of a tolerant place like California.

We do not fear the world because the world is us. The world is our Hollywood and Silicon Valley and the almonds, pistachios and world-class wines that come from our farmland.

That welcome mat at our doorstep has helped us create a dynamic economy that exports our ideas and culture through film and television, spreads the freedom of information through the silicon chip, shares advances in medicine, and feeds countless people across the ocean.

And our doors are open to 260 million tourists from every part of the world. We’re the birthplace of Disneyland, the magic kingdom. Yes, it’s a small world after all.

While the California brand is an ethos, the fabric we have woven out of many different threads, it is also the lesson we learned from our own past of pulling away that welcome mat.

It took the federal courts, in 1995, to thwart the popularly passed Proposition 187, which attempted to ban undocumented immigrants from schools and others services. In the years that followed, a California with a different message won out. Bring us your skilled hands. Bring us your brainpower. Bring us your innovation.

In those same 1990s, Larry Page, a new student at the engineering school at Stanford University, met Sergey Brin, a Soviet Jew who had landed in Palo Alto the year before. They crammed their dormitory room with cheap computers and applied Brin’s data mining system to build an engine to search the Internet. In a rented garage, they created Google.

Today, thirty seven percent of the workforce in Silicon Valley comes from foreign lands. Iranian born Hani Goodarzi heads a cancer lab at UC San Francisco. Indian born Satya Nadella chairs powerhouse Microsoft. Raghib Hussain, born in Pakistan and educated at San Jose State, heads Cavium.

In the University of California, the largest public research university system in the world, 13 percent of students are foreign born.

We are proud to be home to the world’s most prominent life sciences sector, with more than 700 biotechnology, pharmaceutical, medical device and diagnostics companies, transforming global healthcare.

In the agricultural fields of the San Joaquin Valley, more than 90 percent of the workers are immigrants who tend to more than half of all the fruits, nuts and vegetables grown in the country.

As a fifth generation Californian of Italian descent, who grew up along the Delta filled with other immigrants, I know what California at its best represents. The last rock before the continent gives way to the ocean — we have always been the land of opportunity.

So why must we continue to peacefully resist the policies of Trump? Because those policies hurt our standing in the world and diminish our brand. We Californians have been to where Donald Trump wants to take the country — and we would be wise not to go back there, whatever his threats.