5 Very Possible Nightmare Scenarios From A Trump Presidency
I get it. You didn't want to believe Trump was a serious candidate. No one did. Well, almost no one. But whatever, it's not a competition. Ideally, between his near-sweep of the Super Tuesday primaries and finally hearing a British dude say we have cause for concern, you've come to terms with the fact that he's definitely getting the Republican nomination, barring some kind of brokered convention fiasco. Still, there's no way Trump will ever get elected, and even if he is, he'd never be able to accomplish all the crazy things he says he wants to do. That's what everyone wants to believe, anyway. But I'm not so sure. We talk about it on this week's Unpopular Opinion podcast ...
... where I'm joined by comics Jeff May and Sameer Suri. It's also what I'm writing about here today. Let's talk about why we're doomed, America! To keep it somewhat chronological, we'll start with his craziest plan of all.
He'll Get Elected By Targeting Minority Voters
Nothing Trump has ever proposed in his entire career has been more insane than suggesting that he'd be able to win an election to become president of the United States. Well he's made it this far, so don't get too comfortable in thinking he's done now. In fact, at some point in the very near future, Trump's campaign is going to take the unlikeliest of all possible turns. I know it sounds crazy, but eventually, the nation's budding racist in chief is going to start courting minority voters.
Again, I know it seems absurd to think that Trump could make any inroads at all with minorities, especially when you take into account that no matter which candidate the Democrats ultimately pick, theirs will be the only one with a campaign plan listed on their official website that specifically addresses racial issues.
Obviously, one of these sides "doesn't care about black people," to quote future president Kanye West. Except Trump does address race in his plans. If you give it the perusal it deserves, Trump's immigration plan reads like something else entirely -- a jobs program. Specifically, a jobs program for inner-city residents. Please understand, that's not me reaching for conclusions. From beginning to end, his plan is offered as a solution to fix a problem that impacts black Americans more than anyone else. Those are his own words.
Read 'em and weep.
However, they're not really his own words. When he posted his plans online initially, a few jokes went around about how all of the sources he links to are Breitbart articles. Don't let that distract you; Breitbart links to sources of their own. Take that suggestion about the impact of illegal immigration on black Americans. Here's that same information, in quote form, emblazoned over a picture of the man who actually said it, just like all those memes the kids love.
Just to be clear, that's a black man with a handlebar mustache speaking in his official role as United States Commissioner on Civil Rights. The actual source of the claim Trump is making is a letter written by Peter Kirsanow that was sent to President Obama. Does it matter that Kirsanow was appointed by President Bush and that Commission Chairwoman Mary Frances Berry fought it all the way to the Supreme Court? Not really. What matters is that when Trump has to start explaining how he arrived at the conclusions he has about illegal immigration, introducing someone like Kirsanow to back him up will make dismissing his ideas as racist infinitely more difficult.
In fact, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see this name tossed around as a possible VP candidate. It would be brilliant. Trump has already said that role would best be filled by a political insider, but there's no reason that has to mean one of the other candidates he will inevitably beat out for the nomination.
You're insane if you think Trump will have a fat vice president.
It could just as easily be a dude who's served on the United States Commission on Civil Rights in both the Bush and Obama White Houses. He's actually the longest-serving member on that panel.
A little more investigation into his story makes it clear that he's a nearly ideal choice to swoop in and make a surprise run at the VP position. Yes, he's worked in civil rights, but he's also dedicated his work in that capacity to making sure liberal types don't use civil rights as an excuse to override the Constitution. He said in an interview with the Washington Times last year that, "When you're a black conservative, you're used to being in the minority."
Also, that he's served in a civil rights role under Obama isn't actually a sign that president endorsed him for the position. After the two terms (six years each) which Bush appointed him to were up, the Republican-controlled Congress appointed him to a third. He's not unknown among liberals. Ted Kennedy allegedly referred to him as "Attila the Hun."
Apparently, the nickname wasn't facial-hair-related.
All of this is precisely the kind of shit conservative voters love to hear. Sarah Palin proved that group isn't opposed to throwing their support behind a VP candidate who just kind of surfaces out of nowhere. Ben Carson's time as the Republican frontrunner proved they might not be as opposed to having an African-American in office as we so often imply. Peter Kirsanow is the perfect combination of those two. Even better, he's a magic shield capable of deflecting the accusations of racism aimed at Trump almost entirely.
Still, does linking to a letter written by a Civil Rights Commissioner who says foreign workers hurt black Americans the most necessarily mean Trump is planning to just outright take jobs from immigrants and give them to inner-city residents? No, but this certainly does:
But by all means, please leave your alternate explanations in the comments.
I mean, that's literally what it says. The program that allows foreign workers will be eliminated, and that workforce will be replaced by applicants from inner-city areas. I promise you he doesn't have that on his website because he's planning to share those details in a fiery speech delivered to a bunch of backwoods racists. At some point, his arguments will have to get a little more detailed. Hoping he falls apart at that point because he hasn't given any of this any thought beyond "Mexicans are bad" is foolish.
For the record, eliminating visa programs to boost opportunities for inner-city residents is also taken directly from that letter Peter Kirsanow sent to Obama. I'm not promising this guy will have a role in the Trump campaign, but I am promising someone damn similar will. In a perfect world, by that time, Democrats will have come up with a more involved response to Trump's immigration plans than just "That's racist." If they don't, winning the minority vote will be significantly more difficult than anyone running against Trump might expect. It's one thing for Democrats to call Trump racist for wanting to deport Mexicans. That's easy. Calling him racist for wanting to deport undocumented workers because those jobs should be going to actual citizens of the United States who are just as in need of help as any immigrant group is another thing entirely. That's true no matter who Trump picks as his running mate.
Okay, in the interest of not making this one entry 5,000 words long, let's bring another group into the discussion before we carry on.
He'll Also Win By Targeting Young Voters
Another unlikely demographic Trump is obviously reaching for with his immigration plan is young people. We like to call them "millennials" around these parts. Inconceivable, I know, but before you turn your nose up and insist that you know the youth of America well enough to know whom they will or won't vote for, take a look at this passage from that same immigration plan:
This article sure involves a lot of reading, huh?
See, that's something different. People hear "foreign workers are taking our jobs" and immediately picture fields of migrant laborers picking strawberries, which I promise you is not what people here working under the visas listed above are doing. What he's addressing there is the perceived shortage of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) graduates from the United States capable of filling high-tech Silicon Valley jobs. To hear the Mark Zuckerbergs of the world tell it, college graduates in the STEM fields here are so lacking in talent that companies have no choice but to fly in better students from other countries to fill the most desired roles at their companies.
However, some argue that it's actually just a means for the tech industry to take advantage of cheap labor. One of the people who makes that argument, interestingly enough, is Peter Kirsanow. He said it in that same letter to Obama.
So what side of that argument do you fall on? Are you of the opinion that tech companies are correct and that the government needs to keep issuing visas to foreign workers because American kids are too dumb to keep a social media site running or do science ... stuff? If so, try putting yourself in the shoes of one of those kids for a bit.
Either of these two should be fine. You pick.
You have a STEM degree, but you can't find a job, and it's because the people you want to work for say you aren't good enough. What do you have to lose by voting for the candidate who comes along and says you are good enough, and that you deserve a chance to prove it?
That message will be especially effective if Trump's plan offers a fast fix. Patience isn't a virtue a lot of people have, especially when they're unemployed and trying desperately to find a job. Sure, Sanders and Clinton both say they'll put programs in place that will create opportunities for both young people and minorities, but in each case, it involves creating new jobs over time. What Trump is very clearly going to suggest will seem like an immediate solution. Eliminating foreign workers from the labor force will create enormous holes that will need to be filled, lest our economy collapse entirely. He definitely has a plan to fill those jobs, and it obviously involves offering them to groups of people who desperately need them.
Still, college campuses are Sanders-controlled zones full of PC types who would never even consider voting for Trump, right?
Definitely for now, probably!
I certainly hope so, but there's evidence that suggests that may not be the case. For example, on that podcast I posted up there in the intro of this column, I interview a comic friend named Sameer. He's 21-year-old student at USC. He's also gay and the son of immigrant parents from India. Would it surprise you to know he's voting for Trump? Like, adamantly. He's not even sort of on the fence about it. Tell him Trump's plans are racist, and he'll tell you that narrative stems from liberals believing that they "know what ethnics should think." I try my best to not make the body of these columns a sales pitch for compelling people to listen to the podcast, but in this case, I very much encourage you to give it a listen, especially if you're of the opinion that Trump will never win over anyone but white racists.
If Trump aligns himself with someone like Peter Kirsanow, and enough voices like Sameer's join in the discussion, it will make a lot of people feel a lot less guilty about aligning with the idea that kicking foreign workers out of the country is the best path to improving their own station in life. Once that starts snowballing, the Democrats have a full-fledged recipe for disaster on their hands.
Besides, I get that there aren't videos of people getting choke-slammed at her rallies, but Hillary Clinton isn't exactly nailing it with young black voters on the campaign trail right now either, as you can see here ...
... and here ...
... and in countless videos of Black Lives Matter protesters interrupting her speeches.
In the first of the two videos above, a protester paid her way into a Clinton rally at a private residence to ask her to apologize for mass incarcerations and to take her to task over a 1996 speech in which the then-First-Lady famously referred to at-risk youth as "super predators." The mass incarceration thing refers to Clinton's support of the 1994 Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Act, which resulted in a disproportionate number of African-Americans and Hispanics landing long prison sentences for relatively minor crimes.
In the second video, after a barely audible discussion turns into a difference of opinion on an elected official in Minnesota, Clinton dismisses the girl asking the questions by saying, "Why don't you go run for something, then?"
That's a bad look, to say the very least. Her attempt to reach Latino voters with a list article detailing all the ways she's "just like your abuela" also didn't go over too well.
If you can believe that.
Again, as always, I know that right here and now, given everything in the headlines, Trump someday selling mass deportation as something that's not evil and racist seems like a total fantasy, but don't get too confident. That's obviously what he's planning to try, and if he lands that sales pitch, all of the other crazy things he wants to do become significantly easier. For example ...
He Doesn't Really Need Permission to Order Mass Deportations
This one is really terrifyingly simple. If we're talking mass deportation of illegal immigrants, a lot of it would just involve enforcing laws we already have in place. He'd have to overturn Obama's DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) initiative, but every Republican has promised to do that immediately upon seizing power. According to the most recent data available, that would cover over one million workers alone, and seeing as how they're all registered for a government program right now, it's safe to assume that tracking them down wouldn't be too much of a task.
From there, his immigration plan is full of details on how he'd go about rounding up undocumented workers and sending them away. For one thing, he promises to triple the size of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), because what's a new Hitler if he doesn't build his own police force? He also makes it clear that he'll force sanctuary cities to cooperate with ICE in making deportations happen or lose federal law enforcement funding. If you've never heard the term before, it refers to a city that has policies in place meant to shield undocumented immigrant workers from prosecution. Do we have a lot of those in the United States?
See if you can find them on this map!
Yeah, I'd say there are a few. If you're taking comfort in the notion that the logistics of finding and rounding up millions of people will be an impossible nightmare, I suspect the things mentioned above will all make narrowing down the search easier than anyone hopes. Beyond that, one of the more common arguments people rely on when discussing Trump's deportation goals is that, no matter what the logistics, he's completely ignoring that we have a Constitution and a system of checks and balances. That's true and all, but think about what he's wanting to do purely from a legal standpoint. What part of the Constitution are you expecting is going to say that a president can't enforce laws that already exist?
There is definitely a section that says the president is required to enforce existing laws. It's called the Take Care Clause, and it's the entire reason Obama is on his way to the Supreme Court to defend himself against claims that he's actually the one who violated the Constitution when he used his executive powers to enact DACA and avoid enforcing immigration laws he didn't agree with.
Only a monster would refuse to break up families like that.
You know who else got accused of that? Andrew Johnson. He didn't want to enforce post-Civil-War reconstruction policies. He got impeached for it.
Mass deportations would be a despicable act that would most likely lead to disaster on all sorts of fronts, but as far as the Constitution goes, if we're just talking about workers here illegally, then Trump's plan is pretty much already the law.
Right, but all of this "deport undocumented workers and give their jobs to African-Americans and millennials" talk is going to fall completely flat with the racist base that's currently helping to keep Trump on the fast track to the Republican nomination. So what about them? That won't matter as long as Trump keeps his promise to not take away their guns and to block Muslims from entering the country.
The guns part is easy. He mostly just needs to not overturn the Second Amendment at any point. Should be a pretty simple thing to avoid. Seeing as how we do have that Constitution still, though, banning Muslims will never work ... right?
Banning Muslims From Entering the Country Isn't Necessarily Unconstitutional
The thing about banning Muslims from entering the United States is that, in a lot of ways, Trump has Supreme Court precedent on his side. When MSNBC talked with University of Chicago professor and executive power expert (how fucking cool does that sound???) Eric Posner, he described the Muslim ban as "just a terrible idea," but explained that if Trump wanted to act on it, there's a 50-50 chance the Supreme Court would side with him. Here are some of his exact words:
Hello, gigantic can of worms!
The main problem is that we just haven't considered religious discrimination as a full-on official government policy in quite some time. There are plenty of examples of people being excluded from entering the country for their viewpoints, like Marxists or Communists, even though holding these viewpoints as a citizen is protected under the First Amendment. That means the court has been open to allowing the government to discriminate against certain groups for immigration purposes in the past; we just don't know if they'll be open to it on religious grounds now.
How about we just try it with Juggalos for now, and then circle back to the issue in another few decades?
If it comes to that, I suppose a great deal of it will hinge on what the Supreme Court actually looks like by that point. Maybe we'd have had an easier time predicting before Scalia decided to vacation with a cabal of mystical politician hunters or whatever the hell, but not so much anymore.
Whatever the case, Posner isn't the only legal expert who's gone on the record to say that Trump's Muslim ban might be more legal than we realize. Temple University Professor Jan Ting made several of the same points, but added that Jimmy Carter banned Iranians from entering the country during the Iranian hostage crisis. He also said this about a 1977 Supreme Court case:
So with Obama's immigration reform plans going to court soon, does that mean they've changed their stance? Who knows, but that case will go a long way toward telling us what might happen if Trump's proposed Muslim ban ends up in the same forum someday. If the court sticks with the above sentiment in favor of letting Obama handle immigration however he sees fit, expect a lot of celebrating from that side of the aisle. But it could just as easily be an indication that they'll give Trump the same kind of discretion over immigration policy someday.
He Can Make Mexico Pay For The Wall By Seizing Remittance Payments (And Declaring A State Of Emergency)
Another key component of Trump's immigration plans involves not only building a wall along the southern border of the country, but also making Mexico pay for its construction. It's a notion that's been mocked from all angles and mostly written off as tough talk that Trump could never actually follow through on as President.
Unfortunately, there's a really simple solution at Trump's disposal. Remittance payments are what we call the money foreign workers send back to their families at home. You probably aren't imagining that it amounts to much, but it's billions of dollars. In fact, in 2015, the Bank of Mexico reported that the country earned more from remittance payments than petroleum profits for the first time in history.
In theory, getting approval to do this would be a bit more complicated, but there's a law on the books right now that would actually give Trump the freedom required to make it happen.
Thanks, stupid laws!
It's called the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, and it gives the president the authority to declare that something or someone of international origin poses a significant threat to the safety or economy of the United States. After making that declaration, he's free to block transactions and seize assets associated with that threat.
Nothing I've read about it so far seems to imply that he'd need the approval of Congress to do it. He just needs to notify them that the threat exists and explain what he's going to do about it. From there, he only needs to renew it annually for the state of emergency to remain in place. To overturn it otherwise requires a joint resolution, and the President ultimately has to sign off on that resolution.
In other words, Trump could declare that illegal immigration represents a state of emergency, and that seizing remittance payments to build a wall is what we need to do to stop it. From there, he'd be policing himself in terms of when that perceived emergency is over.
If that sounds like some obscure end-run around the law that no levelheaded president would ever use, just know that we currently have more than 30 emergency declarations in place right now, covering countries all over the globe and threats that date back to the 1970s. They may never have been used for something as audacious as what Trump is suggesting, but there's no reason to believe he wouldn't be the president to test those limits.
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Check out all of Donald's plans that didn't come to fruition, like the time he tried to bulldoze a woman's home in 5 Reasons Why Donald Trump Is the Biggest Troll Alive, and the time he built golden toilets on an airliner in 10 Stories About Donald Trump You Won't Believe Are True.
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