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Prove Me Wrong: The Orange Guy Is The Liberal Choice

The challenge of figuring out what side of the line you’re on.

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ASTORIA, NYC- I was once a young far left liberal who would stand in the streets with signs, yell and scream at demonstrations, and daydream about the masses rising up and overthrowing their oppressors. I’d wear all black. I’d break shit that I didn’t like. Like many other leftists of that time, I would travel far and wide to go to protests against globalization and war — I raged against the FTAA, the WTO, the war in Afghanistan, the second Gulf war, the whole lot. I was opposed to any and all political parties, finding the Democrats and the Republicans part of the same milieu of corporate shrilling and warmongering … and third parties hapless apologists for a rigged system. Needless to say, I didn’t vote.

However, if at that time there was a presidential candidate who wouldn’t start any wars, who would bring home the troops, construct policy that went against the interests of multinational corporations, de-legitimize the mainstream media, and take strong measures against a foreign government that’s detaining millions in concentration camps (literally), I probably would have cast aside my anarchic principles and considered voting.

While I am now 39 years old and have experienced a thing or two which have thoroughly disaffected my sophomoric radicalism I nonetheless find no reason to diverge from the fundamentals of my former leftist self. While abhorring politics in all forms, I remain anti-war, anti-globalization, anti-technocracy; I am against corporations having power over governments, I am against censorship and pro-civil liberties. I abhor the corporate influence over media. I am for personal freedom and the right to self determination. I am against gun control. I oppose the coronavirus lockdowns. I don’t believe that race should be a qualifier that determines how you treat someone. I’m a pretty typical American.

I didn’t believe the Trump hype in 2016. I didn’t buy the outsider rhetoric. I didn’t think he’d be anything other than the same old politician, bought by corporations and out to boost economic output by bombing the fuck out of some poor bastards in some country that nobody cares about. But then he tore up the TPP agreement on his first day in office, and it make me go “Hmm…” That agreement was 1 part trade, 9 parts statutes that would give corporations unprecedented control over governments.

More anti-globalization policies were to follow, foreign wars were ended, troops were shipped home, and historic peace deals were signed. His administration started a trade war on a country whose human rights record ranks with Stalin’s Russia, barked at the tech monopolies, denounced the people who tore through my neighborhood destroying local businesses, opposed the blatantly unconstitutional lockdowns in places like New York, and took a strong stand against critical race theory — a Hitler-esque ideology which seeks to rank and file people on the basis of skin color.

Whatever happened to the “War on Terror?” Where did the Taliban go? What about ISIS? How did all of these sworn enemies of the USA that we’d read about every day suddenly fade into irrelevance? … The peace deals between Serbia and Kosovo, Israel and the UAE, Bahrain and the UAE, and Sudan and Israel were icing on the cake.

Before the Covid-19 pandemic, the US had the best job numbers in memory — at that was three years into the presidency of the guy that was touted to take the country down in flames.

Under “racist” Trump, the American prison population dropped to a level unseen since 1995, with the black prison population dropping fell 22.6%. Prisons were converted to what they should be for: holding violent individuals who do other people harm.

In point, a large swath of US government policies over the past four years fall in line with what I spent a good chunk of my youth protesting for. This was what I wanted. In an odd, upside down kind of way, the incumbent more closely matches the liberal agenda of my youth than the guy who is supposed to be the liberal candidate.

But the same people that I used to stand with protesting globalization and war now seem to take this odd era of peace and prosperity for granted. Perhaps they have better things to be doing these days, such as attacking minority owned businesses:

It as if the liberals in the USA are being duped. They have a guy in office that is carrying out large swaths of their policy and they’re too manipulated by media and memes to realize it.

Cultures have very short memories. In these four years of peace it seems as if we’ve forgotten what it was like to be at war. For 15 years of my travels I listened to people ceaselessly complaining about America’s foreign wars and how we have no right to police the world. I would sit and patiently listen to them go on about Iraq and Afghanistan, torture at Guantánamo Bay… For the most part, I would nod my head and agree — I was from a country that delighted in bombing people (Republican president, Democratic president, it was always the same show) — although this was always a less than ideal form of inter-cultural communication.

But now that the USA is pulling out of multiple war zones and haven’t started any new military conflicts, those same people don’t congratulate me for being from a country that has reverted from its warlike ways. No, they just shifted to complaining about what my president tweets. I take it. As far as I’m concerned, I would rather have a tweeting meathead in office than a mass murderer.

War is the natural state of modern America. Trump was the first president since Jimmy Carter to not start a war — the first president in my lifetime to not go around bombing weaker peoples to oblivion. Biden was second in command for all of this:

U.S. military forces have been at war for all eight years of Obama’s tenure, the first two-term president with that distinction. He launched airstrikes or military raids in at least seven countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan.

And another run down of the warlike ways of the Obama / Biden era:

To cite just some recent examples: In October, the president authorized the first sustained deployment of U.S. special-operations forces to Syria to complement his air campaign against the Islamic State. In January, reports emerged that the Obama administration was rethinking its troop drawdown in Afghanistan, given the deteriorating security situation there, and considering sending more troops to Iraq and Syria. The next month, Obama released a defense budget that included an increase of $2.5 billion over the previous year to expand the fight with ISIS to North and West Africa, and billions more for sending heavy weapons, armored vehicles, and other equipment to Eastern and Central Europe to counter Russian aggression. In the past several weeks alone, we’ve learned of Pentagon plans to dispatch military advisers to Nigeria against the jihadist group Boko Haram and to launch an aerial offensive in Libya against the Islamic State. U.S. bombing raids recently killed 150 suspected militants in Somalia and over 40 in Libya. By one measure, in fact, the U.S. military is now actively engaged in more countries than when Obama took office.

I am not in the majority of American liberals, who seem nostalgic for the endless wars, the return of the military industrial complex, and the corporate rule of the US government. And they may soon get what they wish for …

I, for one, would prefer four more years of “orange man bad.”

Filed under: Politics, USA

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3705 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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VBJ is currently in: New York City

25 comments… add one

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  • VBJ October 30, 2020, 12:45 am

    Preemptive replies to comments:

    “But Trump’s a racist!”

    More than the other guy? Probably not. But if we look at actual policy, I’d say that Trump’s record in regards to race is superior to Biden’s — although this doesn’t say much. But Trump’s banning of an ideology that reduces people to the sum of their race and then divides and re-distributes them hierarchically in the federal government was a big move against racism.

    “But Trump divides people! We’re more divided than ever and it’s all because of him!”

    We’ve been saying this for the past twenty years and we’re probably not going to stop as long as news media and the tech companies continue siloing us in ideological bubbles in the pursuit of higher user engagement (or, as the case may be, their own financial survival). We used to have something called mainstream media that was roughly centrist that everyone would watch. Our wellsprings of “truth” were roughly coming from the same places. Now, pan-cultural media is dead, and publications and networks have picked up the pieces by picking a given audience and pandering to them — reaffirming what they already believe to be true. There is now too much money to be made in having two sides that can be continually played against each other — ever being incited to read more, click more, and, of course, view more ads. Don’t be fooled, this has nothing to do with any one politician.

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    • Bob L October 30, 2020, 6:21 pm

      Great article. And great comment, which could be an article in itself.

      Bob L

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      • VBJ November 2, 2020, 9:47 am

        Thanks Bob!

        I will start writing more about stuff like this soon on a different channel. It’s looking my career as an internationally traveling journalist is getting put on hold indefinitely. I need to do something different. There seems to be a strong market for real, on the ground reporting about the USA, and I guess clusterfucks have always been my journalistic specialty 😉

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  • Terrence Coon October 30, 2020, 10:43 am

    Yeh, most everything that was done by this administration has been spot on for freedom of speech and all of your reasons/facts listed in Orange Man post. Too bad that the many accomplishments are overlooked or just plain not recognized because of the President’s personality and personal faults.
    Wade, I bought your T shirt a decade ago, your book recently, and have been a regular contributor over the years. You kinda surprised me with this post this morning. Thank you. I just sent you a small contribution.

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  • Scott October 30, 2020, 11:52 am

    Great article!

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  • Puneet October 30, 2020, 12:00 pm

    Can relate and agree to all of this. Thanks for articulating it Wade.
    I would have also voted for him for what the deep state (DNC, CIA, FBI, NSA, NYT, WaPo, Twitter, Facebook etc) tried to do to him with that Russia! Russia! Russia! hoax. That was nothing short of an attempt coup, and it was so egregious and is so dangerous, that one needs to support Trump even if his record on economy, China etc wasn’t commendable. That he managed to survive and achieve anything is a miracle.
    The swamp is more vicious, more dangerous, and creeping towards us faster than the worst cynic imagined.

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    • VBJ November 2, 2020, 9:45 am

      Thanks, man!

      “I would have also voted for him for what the deep state (DNC, CIA, FBI, NSA, NYT, WaPo, Twitter, Facebook etc) tried to do to him with that Russia! Russia! Russia! hoax. That was nothing short of an attempt coup, and it was so egregious and is so dangerous, that one needs to support Trump even if his record on economy, China etc wasn’t commendable. That he managed to survive and achieve anything is a miracle.”

      I agree completely. The guy took them all on … and he won. The ultimate victory against the swamp would be if he wins tomorrow. The cooperation between the deep layers of government, the media, the tech monopolies, and academia is truly frightening. This is really the David and Goliath story of our times.

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  • Jack October 30, 2020, 5:36 pm

    I think it’s all complicated. I’m debating whether I vote or not but the Democrats seem to be forcing me to vote.

    1) I normally could care less whether the Republicans or Democrats control Congress but the threat to pack the Court if they sweep is very disturbing. It has been 9 justices for more than 150 years and I don’t think it needs to be changed. What for? So they can push through their agenda? If the Dems were so concerned about it then they would have nominated someone other than Horrible Hillary in 2016. Oh and Obama not getting his Supreme Court pick in 2016? Boohoo, he needed to get his choice confirmed in the Senate they said no. Now they want to sweep and take over the Supreme Court. This is something I believe will destroy the Republic.

    Since I’m in a place where Dems might take a Senate seat, I feel like I need to vote. Not because I like the Republican candidate. I actually don’t like her at all. After having a staff member send me emails back and forth how it was impossible to help me(finally another Senator’s office did), I got a letter from her saying how grateful I should be cause my problem was solved. I actually like 90% of what her opponent is saying. But thanks to the Dem leadership, I’m forced to vote for her opponent for solely this issue.

    2) China and the Uyghur Genocide is a major issue for me. I have genuine concerns that Biden will back off of China. Then there is the Hunter Biden issue. We both know about Princelings. These are the children of politicians who are given cushy high paying jobs. They are given those positions without real qualifications and it’s a way to gain favor with those influential politician parents. China does it and so do many developing countries around the world. It’s difficult to point blank prove it is corruption but it’s generally understood to be something very shady to engage in.

    Hunter doesn’t seem to have genuine qualifications for the positions he has been given. He is the son of an influential politician. He has been paid an inordinate amount of money for his “work.” I’m not going to call the Bidens corrupt but if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and looks like a duck then it’s likely a duck. I think we are owed a real explanation to show why it isn’t a duck but the media is silent and Joe just gets angry at the question and even results to name calling if someone asks him about it. Crazy.

    (And no that isn’t me even he calls the guy Jack and Fat and it’s in a town not far from where I live)

    So see where I am?

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    • VBJ November 2, 2020, 10:28 am

      Hello Jack,

      I think you’re framing this perfectly. You seem to be tossing your priorities into a bucket and watching what floats to the top.

      I usually don’t vote either. This will be the first time I ever vote, in fact. I also usually don’t see much of a difference between the political parties. But this year has been very different.

      Packing the courts? I agree that’s not only an affront to the foundation of the country but a very slippery slope. If they do that then certainly the Republicans will do the same the next time they get a chance. The very threat of that is a reason in and of itself to vote against the Dems, as it clearly shows that they don’t respect the fundamental, agreed upon ways things are done, which is very, very dangerous in such polarized times.

      As far as I’m concerned the Uyghur genocide is the biggest issue on the planet right now. I agree that the mere chance (very, very probable chance) that Biden will back off on China is a big reason to vote against him. We haven’t seen human rights violations on this scale since Stalin or even the Nazis. We know how the Trump administration feels about this. We don’t know what the other guy will do, and from his record is VP is concerned I’d say it’s likely that Xinjiang will rapidly fade from view if he gets in. I at least don’t want to chance it.

      “I’m not going to call the Bidens corrupt but if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and looks like a duck then it’s likely a duck. I think we are owed a real explanation to show why it isn’t a duck but the media is silent and Joe just gets angry at the question and even results to name calling if someone asks him about it. Crazy.”

      Yes, the media coverup of that story is insane. We usually only use the term “media coverup” to describe things that happen in countries like China.

      Yeah, that’s the direction or media is headed.

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  • tony delozier October 30, 2020, 7:03 pm

    lol, funny stuff , and donnie wont show his tax statement because he is upstanding individual,

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    • VBJ October 31, 2020, 12:42 am

      I didn’t say that.

      Anyway, why should he have to show his tax returns? If he filed something incorrectly that’s between him and the IRS. If he was allowed to pay a ridiculously small amount of taxes and followed the rules then that’s on the IRS and our tax laws. Do you want to pay more taxes than what you have to? I don’t get why this is an issue.

      But it’s interesting to me where the priorities of a lot of people who oppose the guy are. Apparently, they don’t give a shit about presidents bombing and murdering masses of innocent people but if they don’t make their tax returns public, oh no, it’s a big issue. It seems to be a really warped way of viewing the world.

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  • CCN October 30, 2020, 8:32 pm

    Wade. Great viewpoint!!! Totally agree. I never thought that I would be agreeing with a former liberal but you are spot on.. Keep up the good work.

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    • VBJ November 2, 2020, 9:52 am

      Thank you.

      I like to think that I’m the same and the political climate shifting around me 🙂

      What’s interesting to me is how center the Republic party has become as the Democrats more further and further left. I look out my window now and it’s like if I still to my core political positions I’m voting Republican, and that’s exactly what I will do tomorrow.

      I guess I realized that I had to stop resisting crossing the boundaries of definition (left, right, etc) and just go with what I fundamentally believe.

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  • Lawrence October 31, 2020, 7:19 am

    Another thing that stands out to me is the fact that so much of the criticism of Trump is actually projection of what the Democrats themselves do.

    -Impeach Trump over shady Ukraine dealings…actually that’s Biden
    -Incessantly worry about right wing people ‘causing destruction’ if the election doesn’t go a certain way, when actually there has been a whole summer of left wing agitation and destruction.
    -Trump is a complete racist!…Like having the smallest number of people in prison in decades, the platinum plan, etc. I mean Biden was behind the 1994 crime and there is tape of him saying super predators and the n word. Which is crazy, if such a tape existed of Trump…well we all know.


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    • VBJ November 2, 2020, 10:09 am

      I agree completely. They call Trump a racist but support one of the most racists ideologies since the Nazis. Look at the history of societies who forced people to denounce their race … we don’t look at these societies very fondly today. But at the time they all probably felt as if they were fighting the good fight.

      Yes, Washington DC isn’t boarded up and barricaded because they think bread basket Trump supporters are going to try to siege the White House.

      Thanks for sharing that info. I included it above.

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  • Peter Brown November 1, 2020, 9:54 am

    We actually don’t know what is going on militarily because the Trump admin stopped reporting troop deployment months ago. My cousin just got called for deployment. Where are the trade deals? We pay the China tariffs, not China. Not Korea got legitimatized by a US president and is still missile testing. He has weakened so many environmental laws that you could argue many corporations have gotten exactly what they wanted. His leadership has sown division nationally including but not limited to, the politicization of mask wearing which could actually help Americans stay alive.
    You can’t believe anything that comes from the administration. I would argue that the Anarchist of your youth has never left and that is who admires this man.

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    • VBJ November 2, 2020, 10:36 am

      “I would argue that the Anarchist of your youth has never left and that is who admires this man.”

      The first time I read this I disagreed with it. But now that I’ve thought about it a little there may be something to it. Trump went into the ring against pretty much all levels of the political, intelligence, and media establishment that I’ve always despised, and in many ways he’s won. America loves stories like this. It’s just odd to me to frame a rich kid billionaire as an underdog. Only in America, I guess.

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      • Puneet November 2, 2020, 10:49 am

        “ It’s just odd to me to frame a rich kid billionaire as an underdog.”
        >> Wade even though he’s a billionaire, he didn’t come from the usual industries of Billions i.e. High-tech, Finance etc.
        He came from the looked down upon industry of Construction. An industry in which you deal and interact with not just pretty and sophisticated people but often enough with blue-collar people. Trump is more accurately a blue-collar billionaire. That also explains why he speaks the way he speaks, and why there is such a large resonance of his message among average working-class people.

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        • VBJ November 2, 2020, 11:51 am

          Hello Puneet,

          Well put. Very well put.

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  • Dave November 1, 2020, 9:27 pm

    A few items I agree with you that Trump has not received credit for. Wars, he has done a great job getting us and keeping us out of conflicts. Getting tough on China which is the worlds most challenging issue at the moment.

    But massive problems with him. Bowing to religious right and trying to take freedom away from women’s right to choose. Massive financial supports to big businesses……agriculture. Huge support of extractive industry which massively pollutes the environment. Failure on DACA and lack of progress, actually regressive policies on legal immigration.

    I also dislike him as an individual and I recall how he was miserable to labor in NYC in the 80’s. He also learned from Roy Cohn….enough said.

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    • VBJ November 2, 2020, 10:32 am

      Hello Dave,

      I agree with most of what you say here. I’m not saying that Trump and his administration have been perfect — far from it — but I think the term “relative” has a lot of play here. Relative to other recent presidents, I think Trump has done very well on many issues that I feel are vital. Although I have to admit that I’m not sure if this says much given the administrations we’re comparing him to.

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  • g November 2, 2020, 3:09 pm

    My prediction trump loses: 348 electoral votes vs 200. Trump was given a golden opportunity with covid19. Crisis always equals opportunity, but trump missed his chance. He came across looking callous, self-serving and incompetent. Voters dislike callous, self-serving, an incompetent. Personally I voted trump 2016 but am switching to biden 2020. Mostly though I just enjoy speculating so wanted to put my prediction on record. Best regards to you Wade, and I’m sure the nation will be fine whoever emerges the victor.

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    • g November 2, 2020, 3:10 pm

      oops that doesn’t add up to 538, so revise to read 343 vs 195. still advantage biden

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    • VBJ November 2, 2020, 5:13 pm

      This election is really interesting as we have all potential scenarios on the table: sweeps for both sides as well a close results. Have we ever had an election where the polls were so all over the place?

      I’m going Trump, but just barely. I believe Biden lost it with his fracking and oil comments during the second debate. I also think a lot of people secretly didn’t like his responses to the Covid lockdown question. I don’t want to have to eat in a plexiglass box.

      Yes, Trump could have done more to at least explain his position on Covid. While I believe his original course of action was the best one, he seemed to have gone about it lazily and didn’t properly communicate his strategy — although few would of heard him even if he did.

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      • g November 20, 2020, 12:59 am

        Wade, apologies for the late reply. Its been hunting season out here in the west. As much as I enjoy politics, I like fall hunting a lot more. Priorities… You were absolutely correct about the polls. What an embarassment for that profession, though I suspect polling people in an age of demonization and polarization is more than a little difficult. My own prediction which appears to have been off by about 12% (assuming biden is certified with 309 electoral votes) wasn’t great either but not quite humiliating. Honestly I think trump could have easily won reelection. If he had signed an executive action providing people with a second round of covid stimulus and just shown a bit of empathy and concern for all the dead he would have flipped states like arizona, nevada, georgia, wisconsin, and pennsylvania. Biden’s comments about fracking were asinine but not quite enough to cost him pennsylvania. Biden was probably saved by how bad trump’s first debate was and how many people had voted before the second debate. All in all trump wasn’t terrible. He finally stood up to china, sided the usa with israel and against radical palestinian demands, and forced europeans to begin paying their share of nato. But stylistically he as all over the place and a real mess. And that does matter. 7% of americans were like myself; voted for trump the first time but just didn’t love idea of 4 more years of a never ending circus. My hope is that biden will at least be quiet and stay out of the spotlight.

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