Published in the Cabrillo Community College Voice, March 2017
At an intimate gathering Tuesday night, Democrat Zach Friend, one of five Santa Cruz County supervisors, issued a “call to action”. He urged California progressives to ignore what is going on in Washington DC, and focus on creating progressive state-run programs that would set the example for the rest of the country.
“The actual office of the president isn’t that powerful on the aggregate,” said Friend. “You can establish a lot of value sets through the local government structure without even necessarily having to worry what is happening at the national level.”
The meeting was hosted in a private Capitola home by Courage Campaign, a statewide activism group. Friend, who has represented the Second District since 2012, has previously worked for the Santa Cruz Police Department, for both houses of Congress, and for the White House Council of Economic Advisors. He spoke to a group of nearly 30 Santa Cruz residents about the way the US Government operates. His speech became one of reassurance and encouragement.
“The President has been acting a lot on executive orders, because he doesn’t necessarily have the full authority of all the branches to move forward in what he’s doing,” said Friend. “A lot of what he’s doing are just optics, and won’t have a significant impact on people’s lives like he tries to claim they will, because the implementation of a lot of these policies are reserved for the state and local governments.” The 10th amendment ensures that all power not numerated in the first nine shall be reserved to the states.
“A lot of those immigration statements are handled by the local government, and we don’t engage in that kind of way as a value set,” said Friend.
A woman in the crowd brought up the topic of Sanctuary. “Santa Cruz County is a sanctuary county as designated years ago,” said Friend. What that means is that the independently elected sheriff will not participate in immigration enforcement. “It’s really hard for the federal government to do local law enforcement duties. There’s not that many federal agents to do these kinds of things.”
“Where need be on the legal side, on the judiciary side, challenge all the way to the supreme court. Whatever needs to be done can be done that way constitutionally,” said Friend. “But we can establish a lot of those value sets here within our area.”
“All the time we spend reacting is time wasted that we could have been working together to create proactive policies,“ he said. “I really think that the president wins the more and more we sit and we fret about what he’s doing every day, because it leads to inertia.”
In regards to local activism, Friend explained that historically the Democratic party has been very adept at grassroots demonstration, but where they fall short is the political follow through. The Republican party, however, works to “develop the bench”, proactively placing party members on local boards through noncompetitive races in order to build reputation and credibility for future positions.
Democrats, said Friend, “are so focused on the Presidency, and the EPA, and Secretary of the Interior, that we forget how the hell we get to those levels.”
“There really is a formula for winning a campaign,” said Friend. “It’s knocking on a hell of a lot of doors, it’s having people believe in what you’re saying, and being able to work harder than the other guy.”
An audience member asked if it was perhaps the progressive turn to have a Tea Party-like movement. Friend said that the founder of Tea Party actually took a page out of the Left’s book. The left is good at taking to the streets and getting media coverage, but their fault is never converting that into political force. There was never a call to action.
“Tell me the next step. Tell me who’s running for office that has credibility, tell me whether the message is gonna be one of hope and actual vision as opposed to just anger and obstruction. If they can do that transition, then it’s the Tea party movement. If they can’t, then it’s just protest,” said Friend.