Donald Trump’s National Emergency Is The Exact Same As Barack Obama’s National Emergency

Photograph by U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Marianique Santos – Public Domain

Donald Trump’s declaration of a national emergency is being framed as an unprecedented step towards authoritarianism, a unique proclamation against Latinas and Latinos, and even a sign that we should have elected racist hawk Hillary Clinton. Happy President’s Day to Ms. Clinton, by the way. In the age of Trump, words tend to be used in unconventional ways, are forgotten quickly, and mean little to nothing in relation to fact. The exact declaration of national emergency was used by Barack Obama less than three years ago.

Obama’s national emergency is relevant to the present moment for a number of reasons. First off: his definition of a national emergency is the same as Trump’s. Mr. Obama did not see the climate apocalypse—which is destroying every piece of life on earth as a national emergency. He like Trump, saw much more danger in working class Latinas and Latinos putting food on the table. Secondly, Barack Obama’s declaration of a national emergency was in regards to a very hot topic in our political climate: the socialist government of Venezuela.

Barack Obama wrote this: “Pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.) (IEEPA), I hereby report that I have issued an Executive Order (the “order”) declaring a national emergency with respect to the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States posed by the situation in Venezuela.” Obama sounds literally insane in this statement. While Donald Trump’s mental illness is clear and should be pointed out—Obama demonstrates that he was completely brainwashed by the mythos of U.S. Empire.

Donald Trump exposes himself as paranoid and clinically insane when he is willing to shut down the entire government of one of the biggest countries in the world in order to build a medieval wall to protect our “great” nation from a completely made-up army of immigrants. Barack Obama demonstrates an equally racist and fantastical train of thought when he declares a national emergency against a government that has never threatened the United States despite persistent efforts by the U.S. to overthrow their government, arm violent opposition to their government, and starve the citizens of said government.

Even if Barack Obama’s lies about Venezuela were true, he never even attempts to explain how they pose a threat to the national security of the United States. Like all imperialists, Mr. Obama simply sees any peaceful opposition to U.S. violence and exploitation as a threat. Donald Trump demonstrates his foolishness when he attempts to explain his bogus national emergency. He would create less of a fuss if he spent less time on the facts, which he can only make up. He should learn from Mr. Obama and replace his facts with vague morals that completely contradict his official policy.

Yes, our imperialist leaders are crazy. They cannot separate truth from fact. And they may even believe many of the lies they say. But the national emergency declarations are not as random as they appear. If Barack Obama and Donald Trump had the job of simply making up national emergencies, they would be no less inaccurate in the ones they choose. They could have made up any story: puppies, martians, goblins. Why make up these ones?

Why is Venezuela a threat—when governments that are open dictatorships are not? Many of these governments are even allies of the United States. Venezuela is a threat, quite simply, because the Bolivarian Revolution provided real gains to the working class.

From The Guardian:

• Poverty has decreased – in 1999, 23.4% of the population were recorded as being in extreme poverty, this fell to 8.5% in 2011 according to official government figures

Infant mortality is now lower than in 1999 – from a rate of 20 per 1,000 live births then to a rate of 13 per 1,000 live births in 2011
Unemployment has dropped from 14.5% of the total labour force in 1999 to 7.6% in 2009

• GDP per capita has risen from $4,105 to $10,801 in 2011

From Wikipedia:

Of a planned 8,500 Barrio Adentro I centers, 2,708 had been built by May 2007, using an investment of around US$126 million, with a further 3,284 under construction. As of 2006, the staff included 31,439 professionals, technical personnel, and health technicians, of which 15,356 were Cuban doctors and 1,234 Venezuelan doctors….According to UNESCO, of Venezuelans aged 15 and older, 95.2% can read and write, one of the highest literacy rates in the region.

This is not to say that the government is free of corruption, but when one compares Venezuela with other countries in the region—it stands out, until recently, as a near miracle. These gains were achieved by the state owning the economy, a government opposing imperialism, and a resistance to free-market austerity measures by international capital via the IMF, World Bank, etc. If Venezuela is to fall to right-wing U.S. puppets, expect the fate of their country to be similar to the rest of Latin America. How devastating it is that no one in the U.S. with political power wants to stop this from happening.

But why be so paranoid, Mr. Obama? Surely a single government free of U.S. rule isn’t a grave danger to the Empire you serve? Perhaps not. But a whole generation of free educated people in Latin America may be. The U.S. knows its power is dwindling, the dollar is declining, and that even its own people are uneasy. By making Venezuela a national emergency—and increasing sanctions on the region—Mr. Obama wanted to ensure that there would be no group of prosperous Latin Americans. This group would indeed pose a national emergency to the United States. Not to its people, but to its Empire. Mr. Obama then was not wrong in declaring Venezuela a national emergency. They were an emergency not to his people, or to Maduro’s people, but to the corporate master class Obama serves.

Obama and Trump work together to hold up the interests of the ruling class, but we must identify differences in who they are supposed to trick on their way to the same goal. Barack Obama is supposed to trick well-meaning educated people and social groups historically and presently marginalized by the corporate duopoly. When he declared a national emergency against Venezuela, it was with these “values” in mind. Obama provides no facts to back up his claims about Venezuela’s dictatorship, but he does not need to. Obama simply gains credibility by his character, which is thoughtful, snobbish, enlightened, and therefore benevolently wise, even when speaking out of his ass.

Trump only speaks out of his ass, which is, at face value, more appealing. However, when the purpose of the ass is to maintain ruling class rule, his rhetoric simply gets ugly, violent and neurotic. He needs no facts—but that is for a different reason. He is leading a mob. They need no real cause—they just need one they can win. They sure as hell aren’t beating the ruling class with this billionaire bozo in charge—so they settle for a victory they can get. A wall that splits up poor brown families. Why this is a goal of theirs? One can only point to primitive racism and irrational paranoia by the right which aligns well with their distrust of science, government, and people in general.

Mr. Trump’s national emergency, while achieving the same goal of Empire, must be read slightly differently. This is an emergency not entirely endorsed by the propaganda papers and television stations in the United States. This is mostly because of Trump’s clumsiness. Funding a wall to keep out immigrants makes sense for the ruling class. They already have build a very significant structure of wall and fence. What doesn’t make sense is to do it by openly demonizing Latinas and Latinos. The corporate class needs their wall to make immigrants even less powerful. What they don’t need is to be discovered as racists.

Trump’s national emergency then appears as rogue—a break from the decent society of Empire that cleansed the world of incivility. This gives the lifeless Democrats legitimacy and creates difference where there is little. This opens up the door for more Democrats to gain power, more Democrats to go to war, and more Democrats to build walls, all because they opposed Trump. But opposing Trump is not that impressive. Even if Democrats force him into compromise his compromises would still achieve any goal of the ruling class and then some. He is that extreme.

Trump’s wall is in its own way an original emergency. He thought of it. He grew the idea. And now he will build it. His supporters can gain some ego identity from this. But the concept of a national emergency because poor people of color want equal rights? It’s just not an original idea. To the dismay of the fascists, it’s an idea used by Barack Obama just three years prior. And to all well-meaning liberals, opposed to the wall and opposed to socialism in Venezuela for seemingly the same reasons, well, Obama and Trump’s similarities would trouble them too.

The phrase “national emergency” is being treated by Democrats as if there was no recent history of it. And now many of them are declaring national emergencies for different, more applicable, and liberal reasons. Of course, it is useful for them to do this now. They aren’t the President and would never dare to do so if they were. Our last liberal President only could muster up a national emergency for his most conservative ideas.

The demented “President” Donald Trump demonstrated that he has lost complete touch with any reality outside of his corporate state television service known as Fox News when he declared a national emergency on the southern border. It is amazing how stupid and racist the country is that it cannot catch on to his endless boy crying wolf. Who on earth builds a wall in order to stop an emergency?. Imagine if someone had that mentality for a burglar.

But this is not about safety. Unlike the migrants fleeing U.S. imperialism—only to land in the hands of U.S. fascists—there is no threat to Trump’s pasty white suburban and redneck base besides their own refusal to see reality. Trump’s forgotten man’s America has proven to only rely on the symbolic victory. What a privileged reality this is. When one’s life varies only on whether a wall is built thousands of miles away. Whether this wall is built will have zero effect on the lives of these fascists besides the reassuring feeling that yes—brown families are suffering—and yes, America’s winners are staying white—even if the pro-lifers can’t breed their wives fast enough to keep up with the great exodus to Trumpland via American imperialism and Western caused climate change.

The national emergency is ridiculous precisely because there is nothing, literally nothing it is based on. But like Russiagate, nothing becomes something simply by repetition. Say the lies loud enough over and over again and one begins to think: these people must be onto something. Why would the most powerful people in the world—facing the most crucial challenge to the human race in our sorry history—be so focused on a threat that essentially amounts to a bunch of starving poor people packed into a minivan, who will be locked up, split apart, and starved and killed just for existing. Suddenly these immigrants are the most powerful people in the world. They are the masterminds behind the decline of the American Dream. It seems ridiculous, but when repeated enough, accepting the lie becomes much easier than finding the truth.

Thank goodness Republicans aren’t the only political party in this country! We wouldn’t want to be living in a “dictatorship” like those poor Venezuelans. Here comes the resistance! Here’s the million dollar question: who is going to pose a real danger at Trump’s doorstep first? His entirely imaginary caravan of rapists and drug dealers or the entirely imaginary resistance party who has been completely complicit in the war on immigrants and Latin America before Trump came to power? A four year old whose only possession is a backpack of spare clothes is more likely to give Trump what he deserves than Nancy Pelosi and her 30 million in the bank.

Donald Trump’s real national emergency should be the spark plug Ilhan Omar, who is putting congresspeople of all stripes to shame by her boldness and composure. What Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is to twitter, Ilhan Omar is to the real world. What Bernie Sanders is to Sweden, Ilhan Omar is to the international working class. Omar said that climate change is our national emergency. Nancy Pelosi used gun control as the national emergency, which actually was a response more likely to trigger sensitive Trumpsters.

Give Pelosi credit for calling out white gangsters rather than brown families. But she only is willing to address random white thugs. She will not look at the better organized white gangs of police, immigration officers, and military we see engaging in lawlessness in Venezuela, El Paso and Palestine. Omar goes a step further—addressing a crisis that can only be solved by radical changes from the ruling class. Trump remains a hopeless head case, and his base is more than willing to follow him off the cliff of sanity into the abyss of chaos.

The entire politics of the right-wing populace in the United States is based on a very base numbers game of primitive survival of the fittest. The right has three major issues that the Republicans know they should cater to: immigration, guns and abortion. These are three ways to keep America white. The right focuses on immigration to literally keep out the brown people from the battlefield known as America. The right focuses on guns because they want to make sure they are armed when the brown people try to get equal rights. And they want no abortions because they want to make sure all their wives birth them as many soldiers as their bodies can bare.

The right can only be understood as the truly merciless and primitive force that it is when one begins to break down their priorities. While the left has nuanced debates about how to fund schools, health care, housing, and other things of civilized life, the right prepares for their imaginary inevitable war with immigrants. Despite the other side never declaring any interest in this war, and despite very realistic possibilities for all humans to exist in peace—the right can only think in terms of war.

But Mr. Trump, where is the war? Besides your base occasionally shooting someone or holding a loosely organized racist rally, where is the action? Trump literally has to make up his immigration crisis. It’s not just exaggeration, it’s pure fiction.

What is with these priorities? Trump and his base may not be human but they are technically animals, and can surely at least sense the coming climate change apocalypse that has already rocked much of the world. Much of the world is facing a massive refugee crisis in their backyard. Almost everyone—except for the United States. And the United States—under both conservative duopoly parties doesn’t let in any refugees anyways. So Trump is anticipating something. He is sensing that the world is changing quickly. It is breaking down as people flee from climate change. He can sense that the rich are ready to let the world spiral into chaos and only exploit this for even more wealth. He can sense that this reality is coming to America—and that Americans are feeling the effects of neoliberalism already. He can sense that a scapegoat doesn’t have to be real yet—it just has to be able to bleed.

There is an international emergency called climate change that is making open borders the only humane future. Democrat Party measures such as DACA do so little to address the global exodus from zones of Western pollution, austerity, and war. The Democrats do so little that it becomes clear quite quickly that the Democrats only exist to protect the interests of the ultra-rich. And in this regard the Democrats play a more sophisticated role than the Republicans. Republicans must summon the dogs. It’s a pretty easy task. Just say the word Mexican and you have the troops stockpiling their basements and hiding their kids. The Democrats must convince all people with a heart and a brain that the Democrat Party is doing all they can to stop this evil. A much more difficult task—and this is the reason more and more smart people are leaving the Democrats behind.

That being said, Pelosi’s national emergency of gun control will surely become a reality as soon as Trump’s national emergency of immigration does. The right-wing is that dangerous. And we all know that when shit breaks down, the police will take the side of the right and jail the left. But this war is nowhere close to happening. Despite the corporate media trying to start a race war nearly everyday, there remains none on the national stage. In many ways this is because the immigration forces are so cruel in our country and the people fleeing from such terror see shutting up and surviving as the only option. But the right is not that ready for war either. They must know that while locking up immigrants makes them feel safer, it does nothing to guarantee the rich will spare White America. There is one benefit of the country being overworked, lacking health insurance, living paycheck to paycheck and becoming increasingly depressed and addicted to drugs. That benefit is that we are too damn tired and depressed to engage in the race war a bored Trump dreams up on twitter.

What we have instead is a populist so disempowered by the rule of the rich that the only battle we can engage in is with each other. And even that battle is largely one-sided and uneventful—save the steady decline of the average American household. The wildcard to the machine of slow and steady neoliberal disempowerment are the sinister hobbies of an anxious right-wing. Left with no real “freedom” in any sense of the word, the right turns rogue—looking for victims to punish. The reward for them is little. The punishment for those affected is severe: life-altering, life-ending. The capacity for cruelty reaches new heights when the villain is imaginary. When the villain is imaginary, the real victims will be too. And so the real cries of the immigrant child are no more real than the money his father supposedly stole from Trump’s base.

The signs are not good. We have not begun to see what real migration will look like in the 21st century. Not just from outside the United States—but within our borders. Increasing gentrification and segregation only makes our divides more ominous. Even the well-to-do communities will have to deal with the realities of migration soon. By reacting with hate before the trends even start in earnest—we are off to a very ugly beginning. By holding tight to our guns and being unwilling to share our cities—we are inviting the poor and hungry to die at our doorsteps.

There may be good signs too. The majority of the population is liberal and believes in love—at least as much as we can. A large chunk of that portion is left and believes in economic empowerment as an expression of love. Furthermore, the more immigrants that come, the less our populist will be enamored with Empire, private property and other earth destroying activities. The numbers are in our favor for a more caring world. No matter how many babies the right makes, and no matter how many of our babies they kill, immigrants will outpace them. Numbers mean nothing without organization—as we see a handful of very rich people controlling billions of poor people in the present day. But we know more immigrants will come. This is good news for soulless America no matter what. The challenge will be making this good news for immigrants too. The challenge will be making this hellhole of hate into a home.

So, if the national emergency number is 911, let’s rate our emergency judges. It’s a case of 3 emergencies: brown families, white fascists and green meltdown. It’s a 9 for Ilhan Omar. Climate change is the greatest threat in the history of humankind. She can move up to a 10 when she turns the United States into Venezuela’s state owned economy that lifted up millions before international sabotage. It’s a 1 for Nancy Pelosi, whose option of gun control would help to curb the bloodshed by America’s random angry white men. However, Pelosi fails to confront the less random and equally angry white men who control our military, police and immigration mob that incarcerates, murders, pillages and pollutes the world with her green light. And it’s a 1 for Donald Trump, who has a wild and neurotic, but completely cowardly and predictable imagination. Instead of realizing he is the President of the United States, he dreams of scary things and cries like the babies he puts into cages. There it is: 9-1-1. Call your local law enforcement and tell them there is a grave danger called climate change in your neighborhood. Maybe the officer would show up—hoping that you said something like Clemente Chavez. This country is in grave danger and our national emergency will only be over when we overthrow the rich, tear down all our border walls, and create a sustainable communal future for all.

And then there is a fourth national emergency, cited by the liberal press: Donald Trump—the man so scary, so gluttonous and so orange it is always Halloween here in AmeriKKKa. Will the national emergency of Donald Trump be solved by overthrowing him and replacing him with a Democrat? What good is the opposition party if their number one goal is maintaining the Empire and the rule of the 1%? What good are they if this is literally their only reason for existing? Won’t all well-meaning goals of this party end up coming second to their true purpose? Won’t all potential for revolutionary gains, such as the ones that lifted Venezuela two decades ago, be met with calls for a national emergency, precisely because the common good presents a real danger to the ruling class—and the ruling class are the very people who define what a national emergency is?

Donald Trump has no plan, no grasp of reality, and no sense of what the phrase “national emergency” means. He frankly has no sense of anything besides hunting the weak, making money and tricking people. He is, in his own way, a national emergency, a bomb going off constantly, causing damage everywhere, and having no idea of the real consequences of his actions.

Barack Obama’s use of the same phrase was just as dangerous and dishonest, and by the use of his sanctions, proved to be just as consequential. If this country cannot come to see that whenever the ruling class uses the phrase national emergency it is to undermine populist struggle and inject fear into the people, we will never see who our real enemy is. Barack Obama said the same words, and he said them better. The real national emergency is that no matter who is in charge, the 1% uses its power to sabotage popular struggle across the globe. Until that changes, no expensive and lifeless figures will save us—whether that be a wall, a Democrat, or something in between.

Barack Obama, like Donald Trump, ignored all real national emergencies, whether that be climate change, pipelines, the selling of public land, mass inequality, unaffordable health care, Wall St.. homelessness, domestic violence, the closing of public schools, the possession of nuclear weapons, or the human rights violations seen in our prisons, immigration detention centers, and the military. Instead, Mr. Obama was scared straight by poor brown foreigners trying to make a living. A grave danger to the ruling class if there ever was one.

Nick Pemberton writes and works from Saint Paul, Minnesota. He loves to receive feedback at