"The champions of socialism call themselves progressives, but they recommend a system which is characterized by rigid observance of routine and by a resistance to every kind of improvement. They call themselves liberals, but they are intent upon abolishing liberty. They call themselves democrats, but they yearn for dictatorship. They call themselves revolutionaries, but they want to make the government omnipotent. They promise the blessings of the Garden of Eden, but they plan to transform the world into a gigantic post office. Every man but one a subordinate clerk in a bureau. What an alluring utopia! What a noble cause to fight!" ~ Ludwig von Mises
Trump in Anaheim
Column by Kevin M. Patten.
Exclusive to STR
It was only a few weeks ago that I finally made up my mind about the candidacy of Donald J. Trump. Since a third partier would not become the 45th POTUS, I must again renew the dreadful philosophical subscription of “lesser evilism.” This doesn’t mean that I would be voting for him; sitting the election out is, as Konkin maintains, the most libertarian of all the limited choices. It just means that after insisting several caveats, I would verbalize my preference of The Donald over the DemonLord, Billary Clinton. (I intend a profile of each of them, but for now, this is just a report of the festivities.) I suggest that 60% of what comes out of his mouth is smarmy and contradictory and offensive, 30% is comedic, and 10% is actually worth listening to. I truly dislike the man. It’s just that I don’t despise him as much as the other.
Some weeks ago, Big Orange held a rally in Costa Mesa. Nineteen were arrested. Cop cars were set ablaze. The nationwide pattern is now almost predictable. A couple days back, on May 24th, he was in Albuquerque. More madness. So when he announced that he was coming back to California, this time closer to home, in Anaheim, I decided to dust off my old journalist bag. How come? When asked why he stays in a country he so often criticizes, H.L. Mencken replied, “Why do people go to the zoo?” And so we have the 2016 presidential election.
The rally was scheduled for the convention center, right across from Disneyland, noon. A titillating headline from The Guardian held a hopeful prospect for my story: “Donald Trump Could Face Chaos as He Heads to ‘Riot-Happy’ California City.” I got there exactly at ten, parking a good mile away from the address. As soon as I arrived in the front plaza, two Jesus Freaks of local prominence were on their usual bull-horning bromide, this time appended with support for The Donald. A few minutes later, a handful of Anti-Trumpers marched themselves and their bullhorn right up and onto them, inches away. This is a tactic! And notice the difference: screaming obscenities from afar is an exercise in free speech; screaming two inches from a person’s face is “activism.” I manage to ask the street evangelist if it bothers him that, in his tower, Trump allows transgenders to use whatever restroom they feel comfortable with. Glib response: “He’ll come around.” One of the odder activists gives the baldheaded freak a kiss via his hand, touching him gently on the face. “You really shouldn’t do that,” I said to him. “Fuck you,” he snarls, with what looked to be bad case of pinkeye. I tell another journalist that it was going to be a long, exciting day.
A cop informs me that the entrance was around the side. I walk over. Ask another unformed man: “Protests?” He nods. As soon as I get there I see the first of what would become the second of many pocket-sized conflicts. Pro-Trumpers (PT), with their red caps and American flag apparel, and the Anti-Trumpers (AT), mostly with “black-bloc” style dressings, bandanas and patches and whatnot. Back and forth they went. I jump between the two main shouters, offering a seat at the table.
“Is this Mexico?” I ask the AT.
“This is not Mexico,” he says loudly (well, everyone was loud). “I am an American citizen!”
To the PT: “Does it bother you that Trump has factories in Mexico?”
He evades on his bullhorn: “I wish I had a few!”
AT: “Is it possible some cultures don’t get along?”
Answer: “Yes. Some people just don’t get along.”
This went on for another minute or so before the PT and his son decided to take themselves to another part of the plaza. Employees of the OC Weekly are handing out printouts ofa piece of artwork they used for one of their covers. It has a democratic donkey branded with the Hillary “H” bending Trump over and, I guess, raping him. Several AT’s take this and hold it for the cameras. “Are you then supporting Hillary?” I ask. “That’s her logo right there.” The correction is noted in the looks on their faces. One of the guys tries covering the “H” up with his finger. I stick around for a while longer, say hello to Luke Rudkowski, meet a fellow libertarian who agreeably stated that Trump was “appealing to the nativist mentality,” then go inside the auditorium. Along the route I struck up a conversation with a man named Ricky, whose theory of Trumpism was one based in “pop culture.”
One whole side is packed. Many on floor and behind the podium. I go to the third level. A black pastor is riling up the crowd. “Hillary Clinton should be in jail!” he says. Some are making their way around the place, passing out “Trump 2016” signs. I’m given about 50. Another group comes around, where I give all but one back. I reminisce about the last political rally I was at, four long years ago, twice seeing Ron Paul. The jive isn’t the same. The attendees aren’t either. For one thing, there was plenty above-40 year olds. Absent was any talk about the Fed, or the Wars, or postulations on Liberty. Just noise, with the occasional use of the noun “greatness” presented as a glum glossing. Sadness would’ve overwhelmed me if I didn’t recognize it as the big carnival that is was, with activists on both sides displaying their favorite flavor of Hate.
About 20 minutes pass before Big Orange gets up on the stage. The crowd goes nuts. He immediately plays one of the only four or five cards that he has: benevolent authority. “They said we didn’t have time to do the national anthem,” he says. “No, no – we have time!” More roars as the young lady is summoned. His eternal tactic is to present himself as the man who gets things done. And, perhaps there’s some truth to that.
The tape recorder sits on my satchel, saving room for video footage on my phone. Highlights include a group of women coming up on the stage, The Donald insisting that “some women like me.” One of them says cringingly, “Thank you God for sending us Donald J. Trump.” His orange hair seemingly glows brighter. The first protester is revealed within five minutes. Like blood-stained arrow tips, several dozen red-capped heads towards the offender. “The cops will get ‘em out soon,” says Trump. Boos and jeers. He calls Hillary “crooked,” and that she “had some bad news today” – the Inspector General Report. “Not good. Not good.” Always with the repetition of words. Now, hollers and cheers. In about 20 minutes the protestor is expelled. Roars. “Don’t hurt him – see what I say? I say ‘don’t hurt him’ for the television cameras . . . even though he’s a bad person.” I picture a bully on the playground praising the teachers as they haul off another child who decided he was at last going to say something. Bad person. “Is there any place more fun to be at than a Trump rally?” I think of a few, but it does take a minute.
“Latinos for Trump! I love that!” he says, pointing to a group in the audience. “We’re gonna do real good with the Hispanics.” The. Funniest part is when he talks about Hillary’s famous “3 am” ad. “Whose gonna answer the call? She was asleep, folks!” invoking Benghazi. “Hundreds and hundreds of emails and phone calls . . . I don’t sleep much.” Then he talks about a few murders committed by illegal – or is it “undocumented”? – immigrants. A “build the wall” chant begins. Another eviction comes just after the half-hour mark, the AT briefly scuffling with a PT on the floor below. Soon a couple more protesters appear on my level, on the other side, above Trump. He notices it after the redcaps make their disapproval known. A supporter comes from behind and rips the signs from their hands. Cheers. Security makes finally makes their way over and escorts them all downstairs. Trump mentions his onetime friendship with Mitt Romney, mocking how he “walks like a penguin,” and adding that he’s “never seen people pivot like politicians.” We’ll see. He talks. And talks some more. When he says “in closing,” I gather my stuff and head to the floor, where I take a selfie with Trump’s head seen far in the background. It’s over, and I rush outside to see what’s happening.
Time for the real fun, as the rage of the Anti-Trumpers is augmented by the exiting attendees. We – I – have to move between a line of cops, who are decked out in commando gear. Protest signs that call of “racism” are obligatory. This is the general scene: Dozens of ATs are confronted by an equal amount of PTs. Once again I go into the largest huddle, where the Hate is palpable. Suddenly, a man wearing a redcap (PT) is hit with an egg. I look towards the ATs and ask if these kinds of actions are going to have the accidental effect of bringing more people onto the “Trump Train.” A young lady is mad: “Did we throw it? Did she?” – gesturing to anther bandana-wearing protestor, who I actually wasn’t asking. Another familiar tactic: the use of anonymity coupled with solidarity. All as one, none as all. I say: “No, it was a general question to . . . .” And she stops me: “Then why you asking her?” Another AT is more polite and we have a chat. “No racist is coming to my house” – meaning his city – “and not getting some resistance.”
An intelligent Hispanic Trump supporter wearing a redcap and suit is loud and argumentative. “You’re a Mestizo, aren’t you?” he says to another Hispanic Anti-Trumper. He shows a picture of a wall. “The Asiaticos built this wall to protect their civilization.” The other man is flipping him off and cursing. “You just don’t have an argument for why you’re even out here,” he says.
Two more Trump supporters are pelted with eggs from cowardly assailants. One of the victims, a large man, actually saw who hit him – a teenager on a skateboard – and promptly made chase through the plaza. I follow behind, with the big man almost nearly capturing the kid several times. An older female AT grabbed the man’s arm, refusing to let go, on the grounds that “he’s just a kid.” Female privilege. I stay here for a few more minutes, then decide to go to the front of the convention center, where I am told there is more action. When leaving, I meet a photographer named Michael Ledray, whose commentary is hilarious. “I was in Costa Mesa a couple weeks ago . . . we had some real angry protesters out there – not like these pussies.” I laugh and take his card.
When I get to the front, I notice that a line of police has prevented Westward movement. “My car is that way,” I explain. “You’ll have to wait,” says a cop. Two reporters pass through the line. “By what magic?!” “They’re reporters with credentials,” a cop says. “Oh yeah, I got mine here somewhere,” I say, patting my empty breast pocket. “Can I get to it by going around the block?” I ask. Uncertainty if there are any more blockades. “I gotta try.” Then go.
Light jog to the other side, where the intersection held many more contentious Pro- and Anti-Trumpers, nearly equal in number, engaged in verbal combat and hoping for it to become physical. I have a little debate with someone. He tells me that it’s awful that people were attacked, but that’s all they can do, since they don’t have the “institutional power” to deport the however millions of undocumented immigrants. I’m happy to finally hear someone give a justification for assault. True enough, I say, but does it bother him that Trump seems to have a number of Hispanic supporters, and that they wield the power of the vote like any white person? We go on a bit, but the raucous crowd is diverting my attention. I go further into the circle. A Hispanic AT has his shirt off, huffing and puffing and looking to fight. PT yells, “You just don’t have an argument.” A young man tells me that he had things thrown at him. Yet another PT – a young black man – also testifies to being assailed. I’m losing track of the bloodless violence. I now want to help settle things down, and attempt a “Kumbaya” chant. Support does not come. I’m standing there looking like an idiot. At last a helicopter flies over us, and declares an “unlawful assembly.” The crowd disperses.
I linger for a while to see if there would be any more circles. There is one, but a cop prevents me from going to that corner of the sidewalk. They’re doing their best to clear the intersection. After grabbing an iced tea and microwavable cheeseburger at 7/11, I go back to the front of the convention center. Anaheim’s finest still have a blockade, but there is action this time. I’m not there for a whole minute before I see the most violent scuffle of the day, between a white guy who has had his sign taken from him by a group of Hispanic ATs. At least four of them begin swinging on the PT, but he is not afraid, nor weak, and starts throwing them back, holding his own. Thirty seconds of brawling and it’s over. Cops watch with aloofness, be damned their abundance of numbers and witnessing of so many confrontations. Some complaints about this.
I’m amazed at how quickly these two polarized groups reassemble after any kind of abeyance. They’re like magnets towards each other, the mutual need to prove themselves correct. So it happens after the brawl. A PT pulls out a Taser, the clicking sound heard several times. I see a Hispanic Trump supporter on a bicycle and try to get a word. He says there is Hispanic support in his neighborhood, but they are afraid to come out. Another Hispanic anti-Trumper, gives me my last interview.
“So you would support Hillary over Trump?” I ask.
“No,” he said. “If Bernie wins, I’ll support Bernie.”
“But Bernie isn’t going it. The Bern has been extinguished. It’s gonna be Hillary and Trump. And a third party isn’t gonna get it.”
“Whoever gets it, I’m voting against Trump.”
“It doesn’t bother you that Hillary has this 30 year track record of criminality behind her?”
“So does Trump.”
“Let’s see it. What has Trump done exactly?”
“He hires illegal immigrants, which he hates.”
“Well, that’s hypocritical, but is it criminal?”
“He tried to rape a girl.”
I stumble a bit: “Wait . . . you’re talking about his first wife?” I then mentioned Juanita Broaddrick and Kathleen Willey, two Clinton victims. “People who have actually made charges against him.” We’re then interrupted by a pair of Anti-Trumpers who want some attention. “We’re over here having a discussion,” I scold them whilst not making eye contact, “and you bring this over here? You see why people get angry, and they say ‘Look, they can’t even have a conversation.’” The gentleman goes back to his points, saying how if Trump had merely brought up immigration as something that needs to be worked on, it wouldn’t have been like this. “Does it bother you that there are Mexicans who are supporting him?” A Trump supporter jumps in: “Mexican right here,” he says, who then brings up the fact that Cesar Chavez was vehemently opposed to illegal immigration. “He would use the word ‘wetback.’” “And he was wrong there.” Final question: “Let’s get to the heart of the matter: Is this Mexico?” The man answers: “This is occupied Mexico.” I have a hearty laugh which pretty much ends the day.
Just at three ‘o clock the streets are opened, and horse-mounted police officers trek through. All the attendees decide at once that the day is over. News outlets later report a total of eleven arrests, with a couple for public urination. I walk back to my car whilst giving an interview to someone doing a podcast. I repeat for his audience: I really don’t like the man.
This whole time the question rises and falls in my head: What if Donald Trump hadn’t started off his campaign with such inflammatory language? The full quote: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems. And they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists . . . and some, I assume, are good people. But I speak to border guards and they tell us what we’re getting.” He added: “It’s coming from more than Mexico. It’s coming from all over South and Latin America, and its coming probably from the Middle East. But we don’t know, ‘cause we have no protection, and we have no competence. We don’t know what’s happening.” As political watchers will note, and many haven’t, it also matters what politicians don’t say – like the aforementioned factories down South.
Here, Trumpism is deduced for what it is: an appeal to nativism, to nationalism, and to benevolent authoritarianism. He’s no libertarian. But readers of classical anarchist theorists would keep in mind that Pierre-Joseph Proudhon was most certainly a nationalist, who argued that federalism was the only answer to ending rivalrous feuds between nations, as well as dissolving empires. Closer to the 21st Century, anarcho-capitalist proponents like Hans Herman Hoppe believe that the State, wrong for stealing property via taxation, compound the severity of the crime by giving whatever stolen resources to those who manage to cross the border. Both claim to cherish national identity, as I’m sure one would find with any three people who speak the same language, share the same pigmentation, and perhaps worship the same imaginary Sky-god. Furthermore, the “longshoreman philosopher,” Eric Hoffer, held that nationalism was the strongest collectivist impulse that we mere mortals could harbor. This is because – my thoughts – that while a religion will occasionally see lapses in one’s faith, and then not always easily proselytized upon others, a historical record is hard to dispute, and one can then claim inheritance to “their people,” and, by means of extension, win World War Two, or something like this. It’s a tenacious reaction in the fragile human psyche. This is why Trump can rile up so many with the slogan of, “Make America Great Again.” How many trillions in debt? Are we still the world’s greatest military superpower? How many crooks and murderers has there been in those offices? And then those many more darker-hued persons and workers will ask: “When was America ever great?”
But is Trump a hypocrite? If he’s to be anti-violation of national borders, is he consistent with it? In fact, Zack Beauchamp over at Vox.com thinks his “dovishness” is grossly overstated. And, as already established, he has factories in Mexico, and likely hires undocumented workers here. So, yes. He is. So I repeat for the umpteenth time: I really, truly don’t like Donald Trump. If Gary Johnson, an imperfect libertarian himself, somehow manages to get into the debates – great! But as of right now, assuming that there are, once again, only two candidates, and if I must make an assessment – which pile of dung smells slightly less: Hillary or Trump? – I will not hesitate to give an answer, followed or preceded by many urgent provisos.