Trump Intervention on Homelessness Would Get Californians Off the Hook

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

For California’s state and local officials, what would a Trump intervention on homelessness represent?

Political deliverance.

Our officials haven’t been able to get a handle on a wickedly complicated problem—despite huge investments of money and time on homelessness. The public thus blames, correctly, local and state officials who can’t rally to address homelessness. (The public might also look at the mirror, given NIMBYish opposition to housing for the homelessness).

Trump may be about to come to the rescue of our politicians, not our homeless.

The president, in sending a team to California and threatening to intervene, thinks he’s embarrassing our officials. But what he’s really doing is getting them off the hook. If he takes action, Trump will own the problem. And the president won’t be able to solve it—since he’s no good at that. Instead, our officials will be able to deflect criticism onto Trump.

It’s nice to have Trump as a foil. It will be nicer to have a real president again someday.

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