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Opinion: California is Still America’s Future

LOS ANGELES — It is no accident that the November election galvanized California’s Latino electorate as never before. Latinos were responding to a candidate who campaigned and was elected, at least in part, due to his rhetoric of fear, his scapegoating, and his appeal to a regrettable—and untenable—urge to turn back the clock on civil and human rights. Such destructive rhetoric does not represent our state and we believe that it has no place in this great nation.

As elected leaders in California and longtime public servants, we have a responsibility to represent the will of the people who elect us. What is their will? Obviously, California voters did not back the new President, but there is more to the story.

A recent poll commissioned by Resources Legacy Fund found that an overwhelming majority (85 percent) of Latinos in Los Angeles followed the presidential election closely.

More importantly, 24 percent of these voters cast ballots for the first time, an indication that the Latino share of the electorate is engaged and growing. More than 90 percent of Latinos in Los Angeles voted for a candidate other than Donald Trump, signaling a wide consensus against the tenor and rhetoric of his campaign.

Moreover, 76 percent paid attention to state and local ballot measures as well. 75 percent voted in favor of Measure A, a countywide parcel tax to pay for parks, demonstrating that Latinos have expectations of, and trust in, local government.

In our first steps after the election, the California Legislature and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors affirmed our commitment to immigrants, regardless of their immigration status or religion.

We introduced and advanced measures to guarantee that anyone subject to deportation has access to legal representation and due process. We will also make sure that our state’s institutions of learning are open to every young student, regardless of their immigration status. California, 39 million residents strong, will stand up for every Californian.

California has long been America’s trendsetter, ever since it joined the Union in 1850. Our social, cultural, economic and demographic changes often foreshadow those of the nation as a whole.

Early on, the state established the University of California, which is now the nation’s finest system of public higher education.

Governor Brown, during his first tenure in office decades ago, was mocked for his concern with the environment, but those early concerns have proven to be prescient. Brown has also made appointments to boost the numbers of women and people of color in key administration leadership roles.

That commitment to diversity has been around since California was born. The state’s first constitution in 1849 mandated that all laws be published in Spanish and English. Diversity is in our DNA.

Our diversity fuels our economy, one of the world’s largest and strongest. California’s farms feed the nation through the labor of a largely Latino immigrant workforce. Silicon Valley leads the world in technology, driven not only by the best scientists and engineers America can produce, but also by the best minds from every continent. They come to California for our innovative businesses and universities, and because we put out a welcome mat at our borders, not a wall.

As a result, we have one of the most diverse populations in the world. California has the largest population of any state in the union and a majority of Californians are people of color – approximately 57 percent. Latinos alone make up nearly 40 percent of the state, and in Los Angeles County that figure approaches 50 percent. These are numbers that the rest of the nation is steadily trending toward.

We stand ready to meet whatever comes in the next four years with strong policies that will protect our state’s diverse communities, our environment, and the values that already make our state and our nation great. The United States has time and again succeeded and grown stronger when its people worked together as Americans.

California is still America’s trendsetter and its future. Mr. Trump might want to follow our lead.

Anthony Rendon is Speaker of the California Assembly.

Kevin de León is the California Senate President pro Tempore.

Hilda Solis is a Los Angeles County Supervisor and former Secretary of Labor of the United States.

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