Californians Like Me Had To Flee Wildfires. Then Trump And The GOP Attacked Us

Instead of acknowledging the impact of climate change on the nation’s West Coast, Trump and the GOP are engaging in their favorite pastime: attacking a blue state.
President Donald Trump visits a neighborhood impacted by the wildfires, Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, in Paradise, Calif. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump visits a neighborhood impacted by the wildfires, Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, in Paradise, Calif. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

My wife and I stood in an office park across the street, looking at the mountains surrounding us. An eerie red glow clearly defined their outlines and flickering orange light emanated from the spreading fire driven by the day’s howling Santa Ana gusts. If it came down the mountain there was virtually nothing to slow it from engulfing our neighborhood, and as we contemplated this grim thought, the whirring of a golf cart carrying two security guards interrupted us.

“Excuse us,” said one of the guards, “but the property manager just got the word to evacuate this property so we wanted to warn you about what’s going on.”

We asked a few questions about what exactly they’ve been told about the fire and decided to heed the incoming warnings, spending the night somewhere farther away from the flames, which by that point hadn’t been contained at all. It wasn’t ideal but it was something you have to be ready to do if you live in California.

I still vividly remember seeing the Godzilla-shaped cloud of the Sand Fire out of my living room window and being trapped between the Thomas, Rye, and Skirball fires as my phone buzzed with incessant warnings. Now, with the blaze in direct line of sight, it was hard to feel comfortable staying in its path while the wind was still gusting our way.

The next morning, while checking Twitter for real-time updates on the fires, I saw President Trump’s tweet blaming the unfolding disaster on the state — despite the fact that forests in California are managed by the federal government — and threatening to cut funding needed for relief and mitigation efforts. Instead of acknowledging the fires and their impact, or offers of help, Californians were being threatened by the highest elected official in America with an absolutely ridiculous, baseless assertion. And it’s worth noting that while he lashed out at the state, people were losing their homes, pets, and being cremated in their cars as the fires spread.

Even worse, during his unwanted visit to inspect the areas affected by the fires, during which his dyspeptic, bored, jowly visage silently screamed how much did not want to be there either, Trump not only doubled down on his accusation that the state is mismanaging its forests, but that in Finland, raking leaves prevents wildfires. This was, of course, news to Finnish President Sauli Niinisto who says he only quipped that his country “takes care of its forests” and nothing else, so where Trump got the idea that crews in Nordic nations walk around raking leaves and manicuring their forests is beyond him.

But no matter the forest management efforts, the bottom line is that wildfires in certain climates found up and down the Pacific Coast of the United States and Canada, as well as in Australia, are one of the inevitable symptoms of climate change. Extremely long and difficult droughts turn vegetation into tinder, and the slightest spark fueled by howling winds can create massive fires. Instead of recognizing this very basic and well-known fact, Trump and the rest of the GOP refuse to take any measure, no matter how small, to alleviate the impact of global warming, even resorting to blatantly asinine explanations to wave away the data. (Although they will allow scientists to study the effects of global warming as long as they don’t get to make any policy recommendations.)

In effect, they’ve become the pro-pollution party and are promoting the very policies that got us in trouble in the first place and which are bad enough to leave a permanent mark of condensed toxic smoke and plastic in the geological record on top of almost untold damage to the environment and geopolitical stability. It flies in the face of facts and reason, but neither seem to matter to Republicans anymore. And so, to avoid having to acknowledge the very real effects of the changing climate and the human misery they just caused in California, they simply do what they always do when the state comes up in conversation: attack it as everything wrong with America.

So you see, it doesn’t take a political scientist to explain why Trump threatened California while sending supportive tweets to Texans and Floridians when they were afflicted by nature’s fury. Not only did he lose the state in 2016, his entire party loathes it with a passion, casually joking about how great it would be if North Korea hit it with a nuclear bombardment, calling it Mexifornia or Commiefornia, spitting the geographic slur like phlegm caught in the back of their throats, and dreaming about the supposed ease with which they can kill the state’s residents in a second civil war.

Across the country, Republicans pretty much refuse to treat Californians as fully fledged Americans. They recoil in horror at the thought of a popular vote for the presidency, shrieking “you want California to pick the president?!” They insist that their taxes subsidize the state when it’s very much the other way around. And if you’re a Californian who comes across as “reasonable” in their eyes, they will loudly lament your fate of being stuck with “hippies, druggies, and commies.”

Trump saw an opportunity to score some cheap political points with his base instead of trying to do something good for his fellow Americans, and so to him, the decision was a no-brainer. And the fact that it was, and that he has a 38% approval rating expose the ugly underbelly of today’s Republicanism. Gutted of any platform besides a desire for power, fear and hatred of immigrants and minorities, and giveaways to corporate interests and the ultra-wealthy they worship as living deities, the party whips up support by creating boogeymen for its voters and pitting the country against itself.

Trying to find out while the wildfires in California are getting worse and how to better prevent and contain them in a warming world? Why would he do that? The people who live there are all stinking commie libtards anyway as evidenced by their votes for those, to quote one of his Fox News superfans, Jeanine Pirro, globalist socialists Demon-rats. Who cares about them?

It’s both amazing and disturbing to watch the president of a country turn on his own people when given the opportunity to say something potentially helpful or reassuring, and his supporters be so devoid of empathy for anyone but themselves and filled with so much hate for their own fellow citizens that they agree with him in attacking a place quite literally on fire and reeling from death and loss.

It also sends a loud and clear signal to those of us who live in blue states that the GOP doesn’t disagree with us about policies and vision, they just hate us and the fact that we exist. And they ask nothing of blue state residents except that we all submit to their rule in silence.

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Opinion // California / Climate Change / Republican Party / Wildfires