Even before President Donald Trump was preparing to visit the Bay Area this week the White House announced that it foresaw using local police forces to address the problem of homelessness. While Trump did not get specific while making stops in the region, the Washington Post reports that among the tactics being considered are the destruction of encampments, the creation of new facilities, and the forcible removal of homeless people into these facilities.
If this doesn’t send a shiver down your spine, you’re not paying attention.
We’ve seen how the Trump Administration deals with human beings it considers “undesirable.” At this moment, there are tens of thousands of immigrants being held in detention camps, under subhuman conditions, all over the country. People being systematically separated from their families, denied basic human needs like soap, and shuffled between camps so as to make them harder to locate by those on the outside. It’s inhumane, immoral, and downright evil.
In the comments section of previous articles I’ve written about these concentration camps many commenters have shouted their support of this atrocity. They’ve happily swallowed the lies fed to them that these people are criminals for simply fleeing from war torn places and seeking asylum. These commenters somehow forget that their own ancestors arrived on these shores fleeing something themselves.
I’m confident that these same commenters will also be the ones shouting in support when homeless people begin being herded into “facilities”. They will believe the garbage fed to them that these new camps will be for homeless peoples’ own good, and that it’s the only way our cities can deal with the problem, and that these people are degenerates who offer nothing to society and must be eradicated. They’ll believe it when Trump says that “eradicated” doesn’t mean what they think it does.
Right now some of you think this sounds overly alarmist. That’s only because these things are happening in real time. We don’t have the benefit of 20/20 hindsight. We no longer get to look back and wonder how all the “good Germans” allowed the Holocaust to happen. We are the “good Germans” and it is happening and we’re busy eating brunch.
For those of you not appalled yet, the question is: After they round up the homeless people, who comes next? Because if Trump gets reelected you can guarantee that there will be a next.
Who will it be? Journalists? Liberal professors? Hollywood elites? If you look at history, this kind of systematic persecution only scales upwards. The person in charge will always find someone else to blame. Freedoms don’t expand under tyranny, they only disappear. And if Trump gets reelected he will look at it as a mandate of the people, and things will get much worse.
Part of the Trump and Republican blame game is pointing to cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles and saying “See, look at their homelessness problem. It’s because of their liberal policies.” Of course, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Our cities are inheriting the problems created by decades of destroying the social safety net, which has been a pillar of conservatism since Barry Goldwater. Never forget that “small government” just means less taxes for rich people and less programs for poor people.
In a well researched, excellent Huffington Post article called “Why America Can’t Solve Homelessness” journalist Michael Hobbes breaks down exactly how we got to this homelessness crisis. He notes that:
Before the 1980s…most of the responsibility for low-income housing, rental assistance and mental health treatment fell on the federal government…Between 1980 and 1990, the number of low-income households receiving federal rental assistance dropped by more than half. Hundreds of thousands of mental health treatment beds have disappeared. Despite having far deeper pockets, the federal government now spends less per homeless person than the city of San Francisco…The relentless localization of responsibility means that cities are spending more than they ever have on homelessness and, at the same time, nowhere near enough.
If you recall, the presidents during this unprecedented era of defunding were Reagan and Bush, both of whom were Republicans. Just like so many of the Right’s lies, they blame problems they created on the people who are doing their best to fix them.
Which brings me to the most important part, how we fix all this. To stop Trump and his war on…well, everyone, we have to make sure he doesn’t get reelected. From donating to phone banking to spending time canvassing in swing states, we are all going to have to step up. Brunch can wait.
But just as important as beating Trump is how we beat him. Moderate Democrats like Joe Biden simply aren’t good enough. They may talk a good game, but they’ve helped enable the economic systems that keep most Americans struggling, while only a small percentage thrive. Progressive agendas put out by people like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, that tax the very wealthy, are the only way we’re gonna see transformative change, and transformative change is the only way things will ever get better for everyone.
Just this week Sanders announced he’d be rolling out an affordable housing and anti-homelessness plan that would have the federal government invest $2.5 trillion over a decade, and would be paid for through a tax on the wealthiest Americans. So far Joe Biden hasn’t even touched on an anti-homelessness plan, all the while Trump is planning on locking them all away.
Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, TV host and poet. Follow him at BrokeAssStuart.com and join his mailing list at http://bit.ly/BrokeAssList. He is a guest columnist and his point of view is not necessarily that of The Examiner.