The United States of Trump

SN&R takes ‘The Donald' at his word and imagines a nation rebuilt in his image. The horror.

Illustrations by Serene Lusano

We owe Donald Trump an apology.

That is to say, the media underestimated the business-mogul-turned-presidential-threat, who, this week in Cleveland, cemented the Republican nomination for our nation’s highest office. As he rises from the pulverized ashes of the Grand Old Party to face Hillary Clinton in a distressingly close race, SN&R has a confession:

We didn’t see this coming.

We did not anticipate that a 70-year-old trust-fund brat, who implies Saddam Hussein is a ninja but President Barack Obama is a terrorist, who responds to violent tragedies by claiming props, who was born rich and bailed out by his daddy (and the taxpayers) but retains a poverty of speech and heart, could get this close to being the leader of the free world.

Well, we were dead wrong.

But we’ve learned our lesson. No more doubting “The Donald.” He may seem like a fictional creation—Weird Scienced together when someone spilled orange Crush on a Fox News message board—but Trump has proved he’s all too real. So in this issue, we imagine the world in his honey-baked image.

Every notable campaign promise, every brash claim, every 140-character vow—we’re taking them apart and extrapolating them to their (il)logical conclusions.

We’re not examining whether Trump’s promises are plausible, mind you. There are plenty of responsible media outlets doing that kind of journalism. We here at SN&R believe in taking this radioactive bag of Slim Jims at his literal word. Deporting 11 million undocumented. Cracking down on Muslims. Overturning abortion rights and gay marriage. Tax-battling into World War III.

This is our next president’s. Best. Case. Scenario.

Scream accordingly. —RFH

President Trump will build his wall

It’s Sunday, January 20, 2019, in Sacramento. Donald Trump has been president of the United States for exactly two years—and he’s silenced the doubters by achieving his tackiest architectural achievement:

He’s turned America into a gated community.

Despite PolitiFact upholding former Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s assertion that the project “will take literally years” to build, Trump’s wall is completely erect, with Mexico footing the bill. The wall covers about 1,000 miles of a 1,954-mile stretch from Brownsville, Texas, to California’s Imperial Beach and stands at a towering … oh, I don’t know, let’s just go with 40 feet.

So what has the Trump administration gotten from achieving the politically (and physically) impossible?

“More deaths,” posits Kevin Johnson, dean of UC Davis’ School of Law. “People are coming for work, and some of them are desperate. They’re already dying in the desert, and it’s hard to imagine that a wall—even a formidable wall—is going to halt all undocumented immigration.”

Johnson concedes the wall would likely slow migration patterns into the country, even though more Mexican immigrants have been leaving the United States than coming in since 2009, according to a 2014 study by the Mexican National Survey of Demographic Dynamics. As for the undocumented immigrants already here? A real-life nightmare.

Johnson says there’s only one way to deport 11 million people on such a quick timetable as Trump promised: ongoing military-style raids.

And we’re not talking the Operation Wetback raids from the Eisenhower days either, when Gen. Joseph Swing helped deport a little more than a million undocumented immigrants in its first year of implementation. This effort would need to at least be quadrupled for Trump to meet his two-year pledge, especially in California, where nearly a quarter of the nation’s undocumented currently reside. (According to the Public Policy Institute of California’s last estimate in 2013, about 56,500 of them live in Sacramento County.)

Aside from the fact that the rest of the world now views America much like it did East Germany and its Berlin Wall all those years ago—territorial, exclusive, standoffish—Johnson says this would undoubtedly lead to countless civil rights violations, wrongful deportations and an abrupt breakdown of our communities as we know them. And let’s not forget the erasure of 9 percent of California’s total workforce, 14 percent of the state’s construction industry, 38 percent of the state’s agriculture industry and about $130 billion of California’s gross domestic product, as confirmed through a study done by the University of Southern California and the California Immigrant Policy Center in 2014.

What would day-to-day life look like here in Sacramento, though?

“I could see raids at Southside Park on the weekends,” Johnson says, adding that anyone “viewed by other people as different and foreign” would be afraid to go out in public. “If Donald Trump is serious about a mass deportation campaign, and is really trying to deport 11 to 12 million people, it’s going to affect just about every aspect of American social life.” —F.G.

President Trump will get tough on Islam

The 8-year-old boy says the worst thing about residing in the Walerga Assembly Center in Sacramento is that he no longer sees his friends. Seated on the bottom bunk inside one of the Muslim detention center’s male dormitories, the youth picks at the star and crescent woven into his baggy jumpsuit, issued to him by the nation’s revived Wartime Civil Control Administration. Six months ago, he was playing soccer and pretending to be one of the Avengers with his pals. Then the latest bad thing happened, he can’t say what. All he knows is that he doesn’t see those friends anymore, his parents look tired all the time and he misses his dog and computer.

Way back in November 2015, during a rally in Birmingham, Ala., candidate Trump called for “surveillance of certain mosques.” Soon after, he called for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims coming into the country until our representatives could “figure out what is going on.” He’s also said he’d “strongly consider” shutting down American mosques and wouldn’t rule out the prospect of creating a database tracking Muslims in the United States. While he flirted with the idea of internment camps, he later ruled that out as something he wouldn’t do.

But times change—and The Donald is a scared man. As president, he wants to write that paranoia into the law. And history has already shown us how that goes.

Law enforcement has surveilled mosques in the past. As the American Civil Liberties Union points out, the New York City Police Department began peeping and profiling Muslim houses of worship in 2002. A Trump America will take the NYPD’s template to a national scale.

Trump’s enforcers will map out American Muslim communities across the country based on dominant national backgrounds, including “American Black Muslims.” They’ll then hold stakeouts outside mosques to gather photo and video “evidence,” recruit so-called “mosque crawlers” to go in and try to spark talk of jihad or terrorism and even send officers inside dressed as mosquegoers to keep a closer eye on worshipers.

The ACLU reports the NYPD’s surveillance created an atmosphere of fear and mistrust within mosques and the Muslim community. Congregants approached newcomers with anxiety, unsure if they were “crawlers” or plainclothes officers. This chilled discourse within mosque walls and deeply damaged relationships between law enforcement and New York Muslims. Imagine this nightmare for all our nation’s 3.3 million Muslims.

American Muslims will also see severed bonds with family and friends abroad. No Muslim outside our borders—be they from England, Iran or Brazil—will be allowed to enter the United States. That is, at least, until we “figure out what is going on.”

A Trump America will never “figure out what is going on,” of course, and international travel—both to and from the U.S.—will plummet.

As Trump’s hateful rhetoric echoes through 2016, America has seen a rise in violence against worshipers of Islam. From the doctor shot outside his Houston mosque to the teens beaten outside their Brooklyn house of worship, watchdog nonprofits are taking note of a nation reaching its boiling point. Even the kids are scared.

The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that teachers are increasingly hearing their Muslim students called names like “terrorist,” “ISIS” or “bomber.” Some students believe a President Trump will order microchips implanted under their skin.

But an internment camp? Trump told ABC’s This Week in March he ruled out the idea. “But I would—I would say you have to be extremely strong,” he added. “You have to keep your eyes open.”

Expect this sort of rhetoric and fear to reach a fever pitch under President Trump. —D.K.

President Trump will outlaw abortion

Thousands of cars snarl across the bridge over the Colorado River and all the way up to Yucca in Arizona, just east of the Interstate 40 border crossing into California, one of the few safe-harbor states left for women. At the front of the checkpoint, a fatigued officer with the Arizona Department of Fetal Rights guides his wand over a woman’s stomach and gets a hit. She’s concealing a contraband pregnancy, about nine weeks in, judging by the ultrasound readings on his portable monitor.

“Interstate travel while pregnant is a felony here in Arizona,” he tells the woman. “For the health of your unborn child, I’m placing you under arrest.”

Another pregnant fugitive stopped at the border. The year is 2020, three years into President Trump’s first term.

Though he once spoke in favor of reproductive rights as a mere mortal businessman, tricky Trump refashioned himself a hard-line pro-lifer, albeit one that was often contradicted by his own handlers. During a March 30, 2016, town hall interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, for instance, the candidate suggested women who obtain abortions in his America deserved “some form of punishment.” His campaign later issued a corrective, but then he selected as his running mate Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, whose state jailed at least two women for “feticide,” including one who was sentenced to 30 years in prison for attempting a self-abortion.

“There are people who have just miscarried and they’re gone after for criminal charges,” said Eileen Schnitger, director of public policy for Women’s Health Specialists in Sacramento. “Women are being criminalized.”

As president, Trump vowed to appoint U.S. Supreme Court justices who will overturn Roe v. Wade and allow states to independently regulate a woman’s uterus. Despite overwhelming public support for a woman’s right to choose, anti-choice forces have seized the political momentum at the statehouse level.

Twelve states already have plans to ban abortion the minute Roe is overturned, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy organization that supports sexual and reproductive health. Another 11 states have kept pre-Roe abortion bans on their legislative books, and are just waiting to enforce them.

What happens when nearly half the country cuts off access to comprehensive reproductive health care? The same thing that always does: Self-induced abortions skyrocket, as they did in Texas, where as many as 240,000 women attempted to terminate their pregnancies after lawmakers began sharply reducing the number of clinics across the populous state. Women are imprisoned for unlawful abortions, as they were in Indiana, Utah, Georgia and other states where onerous restrictions criminalize desperation. And the most zealous states go even further, conjuring new ways to constrict a woman’s autonomy.

“A Trump presidency would be a disaster for women,” said Rebecca Griffin, assistant director of programs for NARAL Pro-Choice California. “Many states have already shown an irrepressible appetite for attacking women’s right to choose, whether they’re mandating long waiting periods or appointing lawyers to defend fetuses against pregnant women. Without the protections of Roe, those states would be eager to block access. We know that when abortion is inaccessible, women still seek abortion care; they just have procedures that are far less safe.”

That’s happening today, not in a distant, alternate future. But a few years from now? Police states regulating the movements of childbearing-age women may not be far off. —RFH

President Trump will take on China

At a fundraising event in New Jersey on May 19, Trump laid it all out: “Who the hell cares about a trade war?”

In other words, Trump is down.

Specifically, he proposes a 45 percent tariff on all goods from China. His idea is that it would compel companies to manufacture stateside, create jobs and also kick China’s ass. It would kick China’s ass. But, assuming China responds with a 45 percent tariff on all goods from the United States, it would kick just about everyone’s ass, too.

According to an economic model prepared by Moody’s Analytics, China and the United States would both fall into a recession in this scenario. The study estimates as many as 4 million Americans would lose their jobs. For comparison, think back to 2008, when 2.6 million jobs were lost. Suddenly that cute fixer-upper you snagged in Oak Park no longer seems like such a safe investment, huh? A recession would kill Sacramento’s economic progress, the dream of Sacramento 3.0.

Never mind the trade war and its brutal effects on the economy—after all, Trump doesn’t care about a trade war. What about a real war with China? “There’s a question I wouldn’t want to answer,” Trump told the New York Times on March 25. “We need unpredictability.”

Trump won’t rule it out. In fact, the potential for war is his strategy—for war. And he’s ready to pounce on China’s ally, North Korea.

“I would get China to make [Kim Jong Un] disappear in one form or another very quickly,” Trump said on CBS This Morning on February 10. He didn’t explicitly say he meant assassinating the North Korean dictator, but added, “Well, I’ve heard of worse things.”

With language like that, Trump could very well lead us into World War III. —J.B.

President Trump will turn his back on ‘the gays’

Most voters have probably seen the video clip of Donald Trump claiming to be a friend to “the gays.” If that were true, you’d think someone would have fixed his hair and makeup by now. Still, even if he’s not best buds with “the gays,” no one has suggested that Trump has any overt animus toward LGBTQ people, and high-profile celebrity trans woman Caitlyn Jenner has asserted her support for him.

But the same Trump who congratulated Elton John on his civil union to David Furnish in 2005 now has “do ask, better tell” Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate. So now, in order to get his base on (no Republican has won without the religious right’s vote since 1972), he officially supports “traditional” marriage.

Brandon Lorenz, a staffer at the Human Rights Campaign, has no doubt about what a Trump presidency would mean for LGBTQ Americans.

“It would be devastating,” he said.

He pointed to Trump’s recent support for North Carolina’s noxious House Bill 2, the “show us what’s in your pants before you pee” legislation that makes it illegal to use a public restroom that doesn’t match the person’s gender assigned at birth, and at his support for the so-called First Amendment Defense Act, which would make it legal for businesses that serve the public to deny service to LGBTQ people.

“If you put the anti-gay representatives in Congress together with Donald Trump, it would be a disaster,” Lorenz said.

George Raya, a veteran gay rights activist and a board member at the Sacramento LGBT Community Center, doesn’t trust Trump with his rights, particularly given the people he’s counting on to win the election.

“He can’t have it both ways,” Raya said. “He can’t say, ’Oh, I’m your best friend’ in one room and then go into the other room and agree with people who think homosexuality deserves the death penalty. If he’s hanging out with groups that the [Southern Poverty Law Center] says are hate groups now, why would it be any different once he’s elected?”

Trump might intend benign neglect where LGBTQ rights are concerned. But, as Tracy Baim, CEO of Chicago’s Windy City Media Group and author of Obama and the Gays: A Political Marriage, points out, the president has longer-term power.

“Trump’s biggest impact would be on the U.S. Supreme Court and other federal judicial appointments, because those picks would last many years beyond his own time in office,” she said. “That impact could be devastating for LGBTQ and other rights.” —K.M.

President Trump will promote the Second Amendment

Second Amendment? Pshaw. Under President Trump, the right to bear arms comes first.

Exhibit A: His statements following last month’s gun massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, in which 49 people were killed and another 53 wounded. Trump imagined a nightclub filled with people armed to the hip, ankle and teeth with hardware engaged in a shootout with gunman Omar Mateen as a “beautiful, beautiful sight.”

Even the National Rifle Association distanced itself.

“No one thinks that people should go into a nightclub drinking and carrying firearms,” Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, told ABC’s This Week. “That defies common sense. It also defies the law. It’s not what we’re talking about here.”

Well, it is what Trump’s talking about. His website sends a clear message—against background checks and gun magazine bans, and for a national right to carry law that allows good, honest, presumably white Americans to walk around concealing guns on their persons. (After all, it’s the “gang members and drug dealers” that Trump said he will target.)

Sacramento County knows all about that. Here, one out of every 135 adults has a conceal-carry permit, thanks to Sheriff Scott Jones’ permissive policy. Jones, a first-time congressional candidate, has endorsed Trump. Yet, ironically, a Trump presidency may actually be bad for gun sales.

“It would be disastrous for the industry,” said Duke University Professor Philip Cook, co-author of The Gun Debate. “The industry has thrived under the Democrats. It’s a joke that Obama is the best gun salesman the industry has.”

So is Trump more of a gun nut than the NRA? Well, at press time, he was hedging on a petition, signed by more than 41,000 people, “who want the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland to allow guns to be openly carried during the convention,” Newsweek reported. Trump reportedly told ABC News he needed to “study the fine print.”

Trump in 2017—fewer sales, more vigilantes? —B.G.

President Trump will divide America—again

Standing atop the west steps of the California State Capitol are 88 of Sacramento County’s most renowned white supremacists from the Traditionalist Worker Party and Golden State Skinheads. Three years ago to the day, in 2016, after trying to hold a rally in support of then-presidential candidate Trump, nearly a dozen of these men were punched, stomped and forced out of downtown. Now, they’re hoisting the Confederate Flag on the Capitol’s flag pole.

Trump saw this coming. In March 21, 2016, years before he bought out the Washington Post and burned down its building, Trump told the paper’s editorial board that the country was “as divided as I’ve ever seen it.”

So what exactly did Trump do to fix the county’s race relations? According to the NAACP’s California President Alice Huffman, Trump embraced the haters.

Among his supporters, Trump counted the likes of David Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan leader who fully endorsed the candidate, and TWP leader Matthew Heimbach, who was caught on video shoving a black female protester at a Trump rally in Kentucky on March 1, 2016.

“I think we have gotten a taste of the racial divide during Obama’s tenure, when people were upset that he was elected,” Huffman said. “Given Trump’s support base—the KKK, David Duke and other white supremacist organizations—we’d see a much stronger divide.”

It’s no wonder white supremacist groups support Trump, Huffman said. His anti-politically correct rhetoric—blaming Obama and Black Lives Matter for dividing the country and Mexico for everything else (they stole the PGA tournament!)—and calls to give police even more power help push an agenda that white nationalists love.

As for Trump, he told the Post he would heal the racial divide by bringing jobs to troubled communities. He described a plan to incentivize big business owners to move into inner cities, which would create jobs for the “58 to 59 percent” of black people he claimed were unemployed. (Actual statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor report less than 10 percent of black people are unemployed in 2016.)

However, the plan isn’t a cure-all for the racial disparities in the country, Huffman said, and could lead to gentrification if not executed properly.

“We’d be glad to get the jobs if he could bring them in,” Huffman said. “But we see it all the time—businesses come in, and they bring employees with them instead of hiring from within the community.” —K.H.

President Trump will eliminate waste

Republicans regularly cite the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Education as two agencies primed for budget cuts. But President Trump would slash them altogether.

“The Environmental Protection Agency is the laughingstock of the world,” Trump said in a January 11 interview with the Wall Street Journal. Uh huh.

Without the EPA, basic air and water protections would be gone. The water crisis in Flint, Mich., could become the new normal. The American Lung Association recently ranked Sacramento the No. 17 most polluted city in the U.S. Without the EPA? Our seemingly clear skies would welcome a sheath of gray smog, one day turning into the thick, agriculture industry air of Bakersfield, the country’s No. 1 most polluted city. Bakersfield, people.

The EPA also bans chemicals, like dangerous pesticides. Sacramento’s small farmers would become more important—and more endangered—in a country run by Monsanto, which would absolutely take advantage of the EPA’s demise to make its crops grow bigger, faster and cheaper without a thought to climate change or consumer health. But in Trump’s world, even fewer folks would have the expendable income to prioritize their farm-to-fork ethos.

And without the Department of Education, there would be no more federal grants for low-income students. College will continue its trajectory toward becoming a nearly impossible destination for all but the wealthy. It’ll be like The Hunger Games if the tributes were fighting for Miss America scholarships, redeemable only at Trump University. Shudder.

Today, the estimated cost for a freshman at UC Davis comes to $34,323, with the potential for it to rise again every year. The school-to-prison pipeline? Stronger than ever. According to the California Homeless Youth Project, nearly 270,000 students experienced homelessness in California during the 2012-13 school year.

Without the efforts behind the Every Student Succeeds Act to advance equity for disadvantaged students, there will be more youth on the streets. And they’ll be coughing. —J.B.

President Trump will SLAPP the media

When candidate Trump said in February he’d “open up” libel law if elected president, it seemed like yet another half-baked claim from the GOP frontrunner. After all, the press has enjoyed ironclad libel protection since 1964, when the Supreme Court ruled unanimously in New York Times Co. v. Sullivan that writers must demonstrate actual malice or reckless disregard for the truth to be guilty of libeling public officials.

“It’s a great protector and truly the bedrock of libel law,” said Robert Humphrey, a professor of media law at Sacramento State University.

Changing the standard would have to come from the Supreme Court. And that’s unlikely, said Ash Bhagwat, a professor of First Amendment law at UC Davis. Even conservative justices like John Roberts and Clarence Thomas are “just as strong on free speech as anyone else,” Bhagwat said.

That said, Trump could hurt media a few ways as president. While it’s unlikely the U.S. would rapidly devolve into a state-run media, given America’s system of checks and balances, there’s plenty with a Trump presidency to concern First Amendment advocates.

Famously litigious, Trump could up the number of fruitless, but costly, lawsuits meant to chill media. Known as “SLAPP” cases, for “strategic lawsuit against public participation,” they’re no stranger to SN&R, which just this month prevailed against Mayor Kevin Johnson after a year of litigation over a trove of secret emails. In addition, President Trump might extend his campaign practice of banning outlets from events, like he most recently did to the Washington Post. That would make for an awful lot of empty seats at his White House press briefings. —G.W.

President Trump will run America like his business empire

Let’s face it, President Obama was a loser when it came to creating jobs.

Our Kenyan in chief inherited a Humpty Dumpty economy, smashed against the rocks by Wall Street corruption, and only managed to glue it back together while congressional Republicans slapped the pieces out of his hands. Nine million jobs and a 5 percent unemployment rate? That kind of slow-and-steady progress is pathetic.

President Trump would go nuclear on the economy.

“One of the things I am most proud about is that I create jobs,” the man, the myth, the legend says in a video on his campaign website. “I will tell you this, and I can say it with certainty, I will be the greatest jobs-producing president that God ever created.”

Got that? That God ever created.

Except God apparently forgot to tell Trump’s business partners.

The morally and financially bankrupt casino mogul famously filed for Chapter 11 four times, most recently in 2009. It’s, like, Trump’s favorite chapter.

While there are a lot of bad cooks in a Chapter 11 restructuring kitchen, Trump gets extra demerits for personally profiting while his businesses and the cities that banked on them suffered the consequences.

“Atlantic City fueled a lot of growth for me,” he told the New York Times in a May interview. “The money I took out of there was incredible.”

Yet Atlantic City—as well as New York, Indiana and other cities graced by The Donald’s Midas touch—were virtually ruined in the aftermath, with A.C.’s Trump Taj Mahal casino leaving a $3 billion crater in its wake. (No wonder New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was begging for that veep job.)

But not everyone crapped out, the Times investigation found. While Trump’s casino escapades were “a protracted failure,” the Times reported, “Mr. Trump did well. He put up little of his own money, shifted personal debts to the casinos and collected millions of dollars in salary, bonuses and other payments. The burden of his failures fell on investors and others who had bet on his business acumen.”

He’s like the Pied Piper if the Pied Piper only had the power to bring more rats, but then tried to convince the townspeople that’s what they actually wanted all along:

“I have the best rats. I have so many rats, they’re all over the place. I get such good deals on rats, let me tell you. They only eat the finest garbage. That pizza rat is a fat slob.”

Candidate Trump is running this same grift on his supporters. After clowning his rivals for needing campaign donations, he’s got his tiny hands out, sending out fundraising emails last month.

So yeah, President Trump will run America like one of his businesses—into the ground. Hide your 401(k)s. —RFH