Fear and loathing aptly describe the way many Angelenos feel about Donald Trump's impending presidency. It's even been suggested that his election is one of the worst things to happen to the United States in the last 100 years. His actions so far, from appointing corporate cronies to regulate business and banking to siding with Russia after that country was accused of trying to rig our election via hacking, are poised to make that observation come true.
The flip side of a Trump presidency, though, is that it puts his foes in a natural, defensive position — and that could be a good thing. Progressives are hard-wired to fight the status quo. Liberals are born contrarians. And L.A. is a city of progressives and liberals. Trump gives foes plenty of leverage not just to lash out but also to organize and unify, to inspire the base and to hold the president accountable.
Here are five ways Trump's presidency actually could have a positive effect on Los Angeles:
5. Cops will sing “Kumbaya” with immigrants.
Police are reaffirming their vow not to help federal authorities deport people who are in the United States illegally. Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck, reacting to Trump's election, said in November, “We are not going to engage in law enforcement activities solely based on somebody’s immigration status.” While this is nothing new — the LAPD has long argued that it needs the trust of L.A.'s sizable immigrant community in order to do its job — it represented the opening shots in a simmering battle between the Trump administration and local government.
4. City Hall will become a sanctuary.
The Los Angeles City Council is reacting to Trump's ascendance with defiance. Council president Herb Wesson proposed that the city create an immigrant advocate's office to “protect residents against mass deportations” and to “ensure the city continues to receive all grants, loans and other eligible federal funding,” according to a statement from his office. City and county governments then joined forces to create a $10 million fund to help local immigrants facing deportation obtain legal representation.
3. Ethnic groups will find common ground.
Minority groups should be natural allies on many issues, but in a city as complex as Los Angeles, this is rarely the case. In the not-so-distant past, Latino and African-American gangs waged war against each other, Latinos committed hate crimes against blacks, some Asian-American politicians embraced minorities' traditional foe, the GOP, and some African-Americans lashed out against immigrants as criminals and job thieves. But never before have these groups been more unified against a common enemy — in this case, Trump and his allegedly racist, sexist and classist ways. This could be an opportunity for a new Rainbow Coalition in Los Angeles.
2. Los Angeles will give even more love to its ethnic food.
It's not as if we needed a xenophobic president to affirm our never-ending appetite for food from foreign lands. But after the leader of Latinos for Trump warned last summer that there would be “taco trucks on every corner” if his guy lost the election, L.A. said bring on the tacos. It's easy to take this city's ridiculously amazing food scene for granted when you're swimming in pho, but Trump's taco-bowl presidency has inspired Angeleno foodies to smell the wondrous bounty of a culinary scene constantly replenished and garnished by waves of immigrants. Love of local cuisine is at an all-time high.
1. Legalization is finally in sight for street vendors.
A years-long effort to legalize L.A.'s immigrant street vendors — those who sell corn, ice cream, fresh fruit and the like, usually from standing carts — has been stuck in limbo in recent years because some business groups saw the peddlers as unfair competition to brick-and-mortar markets and restaurants, which had to obtain expensive permits. But Trump's promise to deport at least 3 million people lit a fire under some city leaders, who feared that undocumented street vendors cited for illegal sales could end up in Trump's dragnet. City Councilman Joe Buscaino's proposal to decriminalize the vendors was put on the fast track. His ordinance would create permits for vendors in certain areas, “immediately decriminalize violations” with fines and other measures, establish hours of 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., and allow neighborhood and business groups to create special vending districts and no-vending zones. It's a start.