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James Wanless

this is where I write

Donald Trump is saving me at least $1200

Enough has been written about President-elect Donald Trump, that it’s somewhat pointless for a middle-aged Canadian guy to weigh in further. There are many theories as to why Trump was elected president. While I won’t bother offering any new thoughts on the election result, a few things I’ve read have resonated with me as potential reasons for something many of us thought couldn’t happen.

Whether it was Hillary’s support of NAFTA driving the rust belt collapse, the Democrat connections to establishment banking and tech wealth, too much of the status quo, the role of Facebook, the role of FBI director Comey, or the votesplaining of misinformed conservatives, white voters or offended (but not enough) white female voters, the polls were clearly wrong even just days before the election.

obamasnumbers-2015-q4

Obama by the numbers – factcheck.org

I can’t put myself in the shoes of someone living in a severely depressed industrial northeastern U.S. town, nor can I begin to relate with an angry conservative woman. For eight years, though, the GOP has attacked the Obama administration, even though more Americans now have health care, the overall economy has improved, unemployment is down, Osama bin Laden is long gone, homicide and violent crime is way down, and America is significantly better off on most key indicators than when he took office. All the while, corporate profits are way up. You can click to enlarge the infographic to the right, and get detailed numbers for Obama’s presidency from factcheck.org.

Under a Republican President, Obama’s accomplishments would be hailed by conservatives as a major success. As Hillary Clinton was committed to continuing most of Obama’s policies, most of the theories that have been floated for Trump’s victory would seem to be based in racist payback for eight years of Obama, and sexist fear of what Clinton, as a woman, would do. Never mind that Trump seems to have successfully tied immigrants and terror to the loss of white privilege for a big swath of America. Even just the Facebook effect was, by and large, the sharing of fake racist and sexist stories about the Clintons, the Obamas and the Democrats. Whether Sanders would have been successful, who knows? The curb appeal may well have been the same.

While I suspect Trump’s win was a combination of things I’ll never fully understand, the fact is that it’s now a reality. And, even if his legal troubles force him to step down or his behaviour gets him impeached, the U.S. will be governed by someone worse. You might be asking how all of this has anything to do with me saving money.

Persona nongrata, unless I cough up dinero

In 2010, I was denied entry to the U.S. I won’t rehash those details here, but you can read all about it if you want. The end result is that I haven’t been on American soil in over six years now. Due to the stupidity behind the reason I was denied entry, I haven’t bothered trying to clear it up as my small way of protesting by not putting my money into their economy (I know, but it’s something). There are really only a handful of American places I haven’t been which I’d still like to go, but the inconvenience of no quick weekends stateside or day trips had me beginning to soften my stance in recent months.

I have two routes to regaining entry into the United States. The simplest would be to obtain my decades-old court order for a conditional discharge and take it to the nearest U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) office at one of the U.S. borders south of Vancouver. It’s a bit of a crap shoot whether I’d get the record expunged that way at all and the fact that I received only a conditional discharge complicates things a bit. Plus, I know of other people who’ve been denied and subsequently granted entry again, but due to flags remaining in the system, get hauled aside and questioned as if they’d committed a crime, every time they cross the border.

The far more expensive route involves obtaining a waiver to travel to the U.S. While I wouldn’t have to have my border denial record expunged, I would have to hire a consultant and submit forms, likely every five years. Until recently, this would have ended up costing about $700 including exchange. CBP just announced a fee increase and this waiver will end up costing about $1200 including exchange soon. This development had me hemming and hawing again, about whether paying for the privilege of U.S. entry was even worth it.

No longer a concern

The considerations for regaining entry to America, above, were before Trump’s election victory. For the past week and a half since the U.S. election, it’s become something entirely different south of the 49th. At this point, I can’t fathom paying that kind of money to gain entry to the country that America appears to be turning into. I don’t even really have the motivation to see if I can get my record expunged, though I may still try that depending on what happens over the next few months.

Starting with alt-right spiritual leader and ultra-conservative fear monger Steve Bannon, Trump has been surrounding himself with a revolving door of conservative and business folk as you’d expect. Stories of disarray and musical chairs suggest things are not completely well. He also appears to be ensuring his kids will be involved in his administration while running his business for him. Nowhere near being any kind of blind trust as they’ve all suggested it’ll be at various times, it seems more likely to me that he’ll be managing things and trying to benefit his businesses while ‘running’ the country.

That’s not hard to believe because, not only was Trump apparently shocked at what the job actually entails when he met Obama last week, but he’s reportedly under the impression that he’ll be commuting to Florida or New York on the weekends. His transition team was also supposedly shocked that they actually had to staff thousands of political appointees between the election and the inauguration. The ignorance appears to be colossal, not only just about governing but as to what constitutes a conflict of interest.

If you begin with his chief strategist, Bannon, the possibility of a McCarthy-esque right wing government seems a little more real. Not sure what the recent announcement of Reince Priebus as Chief of Staff means. In the ten days or so since Trump was elected, the frequency of media reports of racist taunting, name calling, racist graffiti and the like has skyrocketed. Trump has so far refused to distance himself from the KKK’s endorsement of his presidency. Just yesterday a Trump surrogate appearing on Fox News actually suggested that the WWII internment of Japanese people was a precedent for developing a database of immigrants. What for? Is the idea to inventory all immigrants so they can actually ship out the 11 million Trump committed to purge during the election? Or, something else? I’ll admit that this stuff scares the shit out of me.

I don’t think any of us really knows what a Trump administration will look day-to-day, but these signs along with climate denial and fondness for coal and fossil fuels, and some of the rumoured cabinet considerations and it isn’t hard to see a really ugly country in the not-too-distant future.

I think I’ll stay home and save some money.

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