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Trump is Visiting the Bay Area Tomorrow. Are You Protesting?

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Photo by Evan Vucci/AP/Shutterstock 

On a previous visit Donald Trump made to the Bay Area, he was reduced to hopping a wall to scramble across Highway 101 in Burlingame, all to evade some protesters outside a hotel. He and his retinue weren’t playing real-life Frogger; those same protesters had blocked the freeway. But the optics were not positive, like a Selina Meyer gaffe on Veep

That was before he was elected, too. Since his inauguration, Trump has given California a wide berth, visiting to extol the virtues of his unbuilt wall and mostly preferring to bash the home state of one-in-eight Americans as a hopelessly dysfunctional living nightmare perpetually on the edge of ruin. Even when disaster strikes, Trump is either uncharacteristically silent (pointedly ignoring the first responders at the Gilroy Garlic Festival shooting while snubbing the survivors outright) or trolling us with nonsense like the thing about how raking might stop gigantic forest fires.

Now President Hates-California is coming for a little visit on Tuesday, Sept. 17, to raise money for his eventual 2020 defeat. It’s part of a four-stop, two-day sweep whose beneficiary is technically Trump Victory, an umbrella organization that splits the proceeds between Trump’s re-election campaign and the Republican Party itself. 

But we don’t know precisely where it will be. The secret location had initially been reported as somewhere in tony Atherton, but that is not the case. All we know is that it’s going to be a lunch in the mid-Peninsula that starts at $1,000 a plate, and several other GOP bigwigs will also be present. RNC Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel (the niece of erstwhile Trump nemesis and Utah senator Mitt Romney), GOP National Finance Chairman Todd Ricketts (whose billionaire family, headed by one of those typically zany racist rich dads, owns the Chicago Cubs) and campaign manager Brad Parscale (who appears to be profiting off the Trump campaign in unorthodox ways) will all be there, too. CNN reports that Ben Carson will be in California, so it’s entirely possible he will make an appearance, ostensibly to tag-team Trump in playing up San Francisco’s homelessness crisis and general loathsomeness.

Trump ironically had to jump a wall last time he was in California

Given the proximity to S.F., it’s virtually a guarantee that the president’s remarks will include slams at Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Kamala Harris, reputedly the Democratic presidential candidate Republicans fear the most. So it’s too bad they’re not all going to Laguna Beach instead, because the Secret Service has formally requested the purchase of Jet Skis to better keep an eye on the First Family at Mar-a-Lago. That sounds like fun, honestly. But then again, even Orange County fired all its Republicans last year.

Given his near-brush with people who truly hate him on that previous visit, the secrecy surrounding a trip that is estimated to reel in some $15 million is understandable. We also know that Trump is a touch sensitive when people demand to know who his high-level donors are, as his Twitter feud with actor Debra Messing attests. Appropriating a term from the victims of GamerGate shitposters and other online trolls, Republicans have taken to calling this “doxxing,” even though such donations constitute publicly available information — which is as it should be, for the sanctity of the republic. Yep, the same party that believes corporations are people takes offense when you publicize who their donors are.

Such attempts to chill healthy, constitutionally protected free speech won’t deter organizations like the Backbone Campaign, which plans to fly that 20-foot Trump Baby balloon over the site of the re-election luncheon. It looks a little bit like Herbie the dentist from the clay-mation Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, but it does the job. Doubtless some centrist pearl-clutchers will decry this fly-over as juvenile — although last week, Trump’s team flew a 4,800-foot aerial banner over the Democratic debate, which happened to take place both indoors and at night. 

Photo from SFGate

And, as Vigil for Democracy — they of Chicken Trump — notes in the invite to its protest, there’s an FAA-mandated flight restriction zone centered on Los Altos for most of Tuesday, anyway. Wise to the change in location, they’re noting some chatter about a mansion in Portola Valley, so they’re prepared to drive a little further to make NorCal’s displeasure felt. Also, activist group Bay Resistance held an art-making day over the weekend, and you can follow them to see where members will gather tomorrow and join in.

Lastly, as The New York Times observed over the weekend, the State of California itself may come armed with the best protest. Capitalizing on widespread anger and disgust over the administration’s xenophobia, racism, and despicable environmental rollbacks, Attorney General Xavier Becerra has sued the feds almost 60 times over, while Gov. Gavin Newsom has a month to sign into law bills concerning gun control, expanded health care for the undocumented, and a ban on private prisons. Imperfect though it is, California has become, in short, the chief legislative and judicial instrument for progressive America’s best hopes for the future. 

In return, Trump has sued California — over a law that requires presidential candidates to disclose their tax returns in order to appear on the state ballot. If only someone at tomorrow’s luncheon, perhaps a rich and powerful Republican with unimpeachable conservative bona fides and a genuine fear that the party might lose next November, could ask the president what exactly he’s hiding.

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Peter-Astrid Kane

Peter-Astrid Kane

Peter-Astrid Kane (they/them) is the Communications Manager for San Francisco Pride and a former editor of SF Weekly.