People with substance and other types of addictions often have moments of clarity—those points in self-awareness made possible by substantially lower depths and points of perspective than they ever thought possible. The sweetly comforting politics of normalization and apathy, as addictive in some way as any drug or practice, also have such moments. The election of Trump perhaps may prove valuable as one.
Like many people, my heart became lead and plummeted audibly to the floor as I watched news of Trump imminent victory. My first concern to be honest, was that white supremacy, which as been losing the supremacy part for several years, would get a nice shot of meth and oxycodone and steroids. The revived and juiced lumbering hillbilly would be an unavoidable reality, impossible to avoid punching in the face regularly.
I then turned to all the gross vituperative policies Trump championed. But that led to a cascade of cold clarity. Only time will tell what sorts of federal policies and initiatives Trump will fight to make real. If he’s half the huckster I imagine he is, he’ll by turns throw his constituency under the bus and gin them up as the facts dictate. But when I considered the possibilities, that is all the things we Arabs, Muslims, Latinos, Women of all races, fear the most, some very unsettling realities were revealed.
Obama has overseen a regime in its substance very much like everything we currently fear from Trump. His first term made him the deporter in chief. Obama deported more immigrants than all of the previous presidents combined. He maintained colonial presence in Iraq and in Afghanistan, and started new wars in Libya, in Pakistan, in Syria, in Yemen. He helped reinsert dictatorships in Egypt and Tunisia. And, of course, Obama expanded the racially-focused surveillance state that his predecessor began. He expanded drone strikes, and the US’s first non-covert assassination complex, which could even target US citizens abroad. Obama failed to support Black Lives Matter protesters. In the midst of a nation-wide revolt against white supremacist authoritarian police and local governance structures, he passed federal legislation supporting police instead of protesters and victims of police violence and unjust local justice systems. Even rhetorically, Obama sought to draw a false equivalence between mostly white and affluent police officers, and the Black people they exploit, jail, kill and harm.
What was it that I and others either consciously–or perhaps worse, subconsciously—sought from the routing of Trump? On some level, yes, and especially for me, it was the open palm cock block of a disgusting polity of white women-hating, homophobic, racist men [and surprisingly, women] drunk on their own temporarily revived absolute supremacy. As I joked often, my only fear of a Trump presidency was that hundreds of thousands of white shit-heels would be emotionally buoyed and would thus fail to meet their end in prescription drug induced overdoses after one last, fatal night of bemoaning their fading ill-gotten self-image as American domestic overlord. But in any real honest calculation it was the extension of the sweet slumber possible with a Democratic party regime—the slow laying of bricks sealing the exits from capitalism, imperialism and white supremacy all performed to happy whistling and feel-good selfies of the first family.
Oh well. Thanks to Trump, we’ll be forced regularly to face that reality, as naked and honest as it can possibly be. There will be no escape from the daily sour taste of Trump’s racist and asinine declarations, nor the horrendous squealing and ape-noises of his greek chorus of white racist jackholes. And just below that, as if it were the podium Trump’s small hands rest upon as he does his late night talk show Hitler impersonation, we will see the absolute reality of what this nation is about, how its government resists electoral and legislative fixes.
Other things will become manifest. Certainly, there may be federal policies and laws that affect especially women and other vulnerable populations. But in the day to day realities that we face in places like Oakland we will find so much solidarity on the issue of Trump. The very people responsible for police local justice system repression, for out of control gentrification, for the neglect and disinvestment that characterizes those places and people in our home towns that are of no economic or social value to the establishment. They’ll have our backs on Trump.
When we bring our anti-Trump protests to the steps of city hall at Oscar Grant Plaza, we may be warmly greeted by Libby Schaaf—who covered for rapist, violent pedophile police as long as she could and and after she could no longer avoid responsibility invested in superficial legislation to hold them accountable. Perhaps on the 12th street entrance side, Noel Gallo and Dan Kalb will meet us with raised fists. For years they’ve encouraged displacement and given the OPD every dollar they could scrounge from other city services, but no matter, certainly they’ll perform Trump-hate with the best of them. Maybe City Council President Lynette McElhaney, the most joyously corrupt and rhetorically gifted council person Oakland has had in years, will join us in our anti-Trump marches. So woke.
The 200-600 new affluent residents of Fruitvale who will live in the proposed BART residential project and will subsequently destroy the last remaining economically viable of-color and working-class community in Oakland, you will find, are on your side. They will no doubt agree with you as you show up at the door of what was once your favorite taqueria only to find it is now a small-batch Civet-shat coffee bar and gourmet toast kitchen.
We will all agree that Trump is a dildo of extreme proportions. But in our most challenged neighborhoods, we will still find that local political organizing almost never has a response to the toxic drug use and addiction that inexorably suck in those most fucked over by capitalism and racism. Shellshocked at every police murder we will march through the streets, light some garbage on fire and make national conglomerate insurance companies hiccup a few pennies to the businesses and institutions of Oakland. And the next morning we will scroll by news that someone was murdered a few blocks from our house in the meantime. We will do what we’ve always done, ignore the myriad politically originating issues and obstacles that keep the people most affected by local and federal policies from participating in their own defense.
In short, its true as many are saying, that the key to surviving these days will be to focus on long-term work and organizing. But that was always the case and will be after Trump joins George W. Bush in the dustbin of formerly odious and now forgotten historical personages. That will still be the case when the next Obama gently says its okay for us to sleep again.
“As the Mayor of one of America’s most diverse and progressive cities, I understand the shock and dismay so many feel about a Trump presidency,” Schaaf said in the statement. “I assure all Oaklanders that our government will continue to protect ALL its residents and we will continue to defend our progressive values.”
The statement pleaded for protesters to focus their energy on more positive outlets.
“I ask Oaklanders to not just get mad, get involved,” the statement read. “Donate and work with organizations fighting bigotry and promoting inclusion, choice, environmental justice, income equality and immigrant rights.”
The statement closed by saying, “Oakland chooses community, not chaos, in where we go from here.”