HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” opened its 2017 season on an interesting note. While the popular Emmy-winning news comedy show has never shied away from delivering scathing political commentary, its first main piece of the year was about how the newly-installed Commander-in-Chief, Donald J. Trump, is a dangerous machine of lies. It’s a hefty and bold accusation for an entertainment show to make, even when you consider “Last Week Tonight” has affected some actual change (notably in net neutrality). Towards the end of the segment, Oliver pleaded with the media and the viewers to hold Trump and his team accountable for any misinformation they may spread and for the actions they commit. And if enough people push this position, real consequences might come.
Last month, news of a possible real-world purge in multiple American cities spread across the internet like wildfire. Inspired by Facebook posts from Louisville announcing that all laws and emergency services would be suspended for a twelve hour period, copycat hoaxes soon popped up Jacksonville, Detroit, the Bay Area, and other major US cities. The news went viral, Louisville police took the threat seriously, and, in the end, nothing happened. While the hoax sparked fear of looting and homicide through social media and news sites, it was fortunately anticlimactic. But it raises the opportunity to discuss current events and the ideology that drives them. In particular, why anybody would be attracted to enacting a purge-like scenario in the real world?
Dan Siegel is running for mayor of Oakland on a progressive platform of a higher minimum wage, housing and tenant’s rights, public internet and police reform. Siegel, a civil rights attorney with a history of organizing and activism, was voted “Most Progressive Oakland Mayoral Candidate” in the East Bay Express.
Unusual for a politician, Siegel—who referenced the idea of “radical reformism” in discussing his political views—has nuanced views on crime, gentrification and civics that hint at a deeper understanding of society and economy. We sat down with him to talk about his politics, his background working with the left, and his vision of the future of Oakland.