After four years of being relentlessly targeted by a Republican president who worked overtime to bait, punish and marginalize California and everything it represents, the state is suddenly center stage again in Washington’s policy arena.
California is emerging as the de facto policy think tank of the Biden-Harris administration and of a Congress soon to be under Democratic control. That’s rekindling past cliches about the state — incubator of innovation, premier laboratory of democracy, land of big ideas — even as it struggles with surging COVID-19 infections, a safety net frayed by the pandemic’s toll, crushing housing costs and wildfires, all fueling an exodus of residents.
There is no place the incoming administration is leaning on more heavily for inspiration in setting a progressive policy agenda.
The revival in Washington of the California model of governance was cemented by Democrats’ recent recapture of the Senate majority, and comes after a Trump-era hiatus during which the state was road-testing ambitious new policies. Another factor: California Sen. Kamala Harris is about to become vice president.