On Election Day, I was a guest on KPFA Flashpoints, discussing my recent story about Bay Area-based investments in the Dakota Access Pipeline and associated northern plains fracking boom. Check out the interview here. The story deals, in part, with a Marin County hedge fund called SPO Partners that is invested in a North Dakota fracking corporation named Oasis Petroleum poised to deliver 50,000 barrels of oil per day to the Dakota Access Pipeline.
As I note in the story, the fourth largest owner of that fracking company is Paulson and Co., a Wall Street firm operated by investment tycoon John Paulson — one of Donald Trump’s core economic policy advisors. Donald Trump is invested in Paulson’s hedge fund, raising the possibility that Trump himself is invested in a company that will supply oil to the Dakota Access Pipeline. Greenpeace already revealed much more about Trump’s financial ties to DAPL.
The election results started trickling in almost immediately after that KPFA Flashpoints interview concluded.
We are only in the early stages — the very early stages — of understanding the implications of a Trump presidency. The White House is now being occupied by someone who, by almost any measure, is a racist authoritarian. There’s going to be a lot of pain.
Some of the most important lessons of Trump’s victory lie in his effectiveness at galvanizing millions of people who have been trampled on by decades of neo-liberal policy and practice. He promised to shake up a political and economic order that has either taken large swaths of middle America for granted (“the forgotten ones,” as he calls them), and in an overwhelming number of cases waged a vicious assault on their economic security and social status through policies such as NAFTA and phenomena such as the Bush recession and subsequent Wall Street bail-out. While the vast majority of Americans voice a distaste for Trump, even many who do voted for him based on their desire to nuke the political establishment.
Their rage against the system is entirely understandable. All the same, the national turn toward greater degrees of bigotry, patriarchy, and authoritarianism is horrifying, particularly when juxtaposed with the all-encompassing severity of what is at stake — climate change, nuclear proliferation, and the civil liberties and rights of every human being, particularly those who are non-white.
Many participants in the Dakota Access Pipeline struggle feel an even more heightened sense of urgency. Will their struggle be streamrolled now that someone who stands to gain financially from the pipeline’s construction is headed to the White House?
As with every other question confronting us in the wake of the election, the answer depends on us. As Glenn Greenwald states, “Trump’s brand of extremism at least offers the possibility of galvanizing a unified opposition that cuts across what had been impenetrable ideological and partisan lines to create a more potent opposition than has existed for a long time in this country, and that there will be a kind of clarifying moment about core political values, that we’ve allowed to be assaulted by the establishment wings of both parties, about the necessity of protecting those.”