I haven’t been writing much about Trump lately, in part for reasons I detailed in an earlier post, but I figure now that we’re in the final runup to the election, I should say something about why I believe it would be a bad idea to give him another four years in office. I started by reviewing my earlier posts about him, and I was surprised to discover that pretty much everything I wrote about Donald Trump before he became President Trump still applies.
Way back in 2011, I wrote about a policy proposal that Trump had made in 1999. It was so outlandishly stupid that I had remembered it 12 years later, even though Trump was still a minor public figure at the time.
November 9, 1999
Billionaire businessman Donald Trump has a plan to pay off the national debt, grant a middle class a tax cut, and keep Social Security afloat: Tax rich people like himself.
Trump, a prospective candidate for the Reform Party presidential nomination, is proposing a one-time net worth tax on individuals and trusts worth 10 million or more.
By Trumps calculations, his proposed 14.25 percent levy on such net worth would raise 5.7 trillion and wipe out the debt in one full swoop.
This is basically a variation on Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax, and it has many of the same problems. In addition, and to no one’s surprise these days, Trump would have derived some personal benefits from this policy proposal, because of this provision:
The tax also would lead to the repeal the current federal inheritance tax which really hurts farmers and small businessman and women more than anything else, Trump said.
A one-time 14.25% tax is a lot better for the Trump family than the 50% or so bite the estate tax was taking at the time. With Trump’s net worth estimated at $5 billion at the time, the math works out that he would be investing about $750 million in a one-time tax payment in order to avoid a $2.5 billion estate tax when he died, which would have been a pretty good deal for the Trump family.
Then there was that time in 2015 when he wanted us to get alarmed that Mexico was making money off of trade deals…as if making money wasn’t the whole reason for trade deals in the first place. Trump also threatened to cut off remittances to Mexico from illegal workers — money that the workers were sending back to their families — because he seemed to think that money was somehow being stolen from Americans. Fortunately, he seems to have forgotten all about that plan, and remittances have continued to flow, helping poor people all over the world.
I got a few things right, such as this off-hand comment in an old post speculating he might choose his son as his VP pick:
I expect that regardless of whether Junior gets the VP nod, if The Donald becomes The President, he’ll want some of his kids in the White House with him, if not in the Cabinet. Because that’s just how he rolls.
I also had a warning for Trump’s supporters that I think has been proven accurate by history:
He’s kind of a superhero-con-man who can manipulate the system and make it work for regular people — think Michael Westen with a trust fund. He sees what he wants and takes it. He plays by his own rules, and he wins. He gets out of debt by declaring bankruptcy, and he upgrades his wife to a newer model whenever he gets tired of the old one. And now he’s going to Washington to take on the crooked politicians who’ve been running this country for decades, and he’ll beat them at their own game, because he’s a master player at the game.
At least, that’s how he sells himself. But I think a lot of Trump supporters need to ask themselves a very important question: Are you sure you’re on the inside of the con?
Trump says he’ll game the system in your favor, but how do you know you’re not just another part of the system that he’s gaming for his own benefit? After all, which seems more likely? That a billionaire who’s never held public office, never been involved in organizations that serve the public interest, never shown the slightest interest in public policy, and never championed a cause other than himself would all of a sudden develop an overwhelming urge to help ordinary Americans? Or that everything Donald Trump says and does is for the glory and greater good of Donald Trump?
Unless you are Donald Trump, or maybe a close member of his family, he doesn’t really give a damn about you, and he’s going to abandon you as soon as he no longer needs you. You’ll end up with nothing that you wanted.
In another piece right before the election, I wrote:
Donald Trump, on the other hand, is whole different kind of threat. He’s a terrible person who’d make a terrible President. He’s a cruel narcissistic sociopath who seeks the approval of racists and instinctively tries to exert personal control over everything. He’s the kind of populist authoritarian who looms large in the history books, often in chapters with titles like “Factors Leading to War” or “How the Republic Fell.”
With Trump doing his best to undermine the 2020 election, that’s a bit too close.
On the other hand, I also got some things almost laughably wrong in that post, such as when I was discussing Trump’s anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim, anti-Mexican bigotry, and then included this as an aside:
Whatever a Trump Presidency might mean, middle aged white guys like me will probably not bear the brunt of it. It’s not that I’m guaranteed to be safe — people like Trump tend to cut a wide swath of destruction — but I probably won’t be a target.
Oh, I was right that I’m not a target. Trump thinks he’s helping white suburbanites like me. But after months of Covid-19 lockdown, after more months of restricting my activities, wearing masks, and using hand sanitizer five times a day, after suffering through collapsing production and supply lines and massive unemployment…I way overestimated the benefits of not being a target. Trump may not hate me, but he doesn’t need me or care about me or millions of Americans, and in the midst of a disaster, that’s bad enough.
In a post just before the 2016 election, I responded to Trump supporters’ claims that Hillary Clinton had done bad things in office, whereas Trump was only saying a few mean things. I pointed out that just because he hadn’t had the opportunity to be awful on a national scale doesn’t mean he wouldn’t be awful. I should probably also have referred to a post I had written in late 2015, back when Trump still seemed like a long-shot candidate, where I listed a bunch of reasons to believe that Trump was a bad person who would do bad things as President:
– Start with where I first remember hearing of Trump, when he tried to use eminent domain to force an elderly widow out of her home so he could expand one of his casinos. His justification is typical Trump: “Cities have the right to condemn for the good of the city. Everybody coming into Atlantic City sees this terrible house instead of staring at beautiful fountains and beautiful other things that would be good.” He has consistently advocated the use of eminent domain to take properties from private owners and turn it over to developers. People like it that Trump builds things, but also wants to steal them.
– In the fall of 2014, when Dr. Kent Brantly and his assistant Nancy Writebol were infected with Ebola while fighting the epidemic in Africa, Trump opposed letting these heroic Americas return here for treatment, saying things like “People that go to far away places to help out are great — but must suffer the consequences!” That’s not the kind of thinking that will ever make America great. That’s not the kind of thinking we want in a commander who will send soldiers into battle. Speaking of which…
– Trump mocked Senator John McCain for getting captured in Vietnam, saying “He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured,” Thus Trump showed that not only is he an asshole, but he also doesn’t understand why McCain is considered a war hero.
– During his official announcement that he was running for president, Trump made a point of trashing Mexican immigrants, saying “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. […] They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” It’s hard to tell if he’s only talking about illegal immigrants, as some contend, but it’s pretty insulting either way. And does he think Mexico actually sends people?
– In that same speech he also claimed that Japan and China were somehow “beating us” economically, and that our last quarter GDP was “below zero” which is impossible. (He probably meant the GDP growth rate, but this is typical of his economic idiocy.) The American economy is better off than either of those countries.
– Trump stuck to his nonsense claim that he saw thousands of New Jersey Muslims celebrating after 9/11, and he wants the U.S. government to block future Muslim travel to this country, track all Muslims already here, and forcibly close some mosques.
– Not only does Trump want to build the wall at the border with Mexico, he also wants to deport millions of illegal residents and their American-born children.
– He wants to close parts of the internet…somehow…because “We’re losing a lot of people because of the internet” or something. It doesn’t actually make any kind of sense.
– Donald trump is a birther.
I did summarize a few of those points, and then I added a few other awful things that Trump had done or said he would do:
-Trump has said he will order US troops to torture suspected terrorists and bomb their families. Again, it’s a good thing he doesn’t have the power to do so.
– Trump has arranged for his businesses to receive millions of dollars of taxpayer money.
– When Donald Trump’s deceased brother Fred’s surviving family contested Trump’s father’s will for all but disinheriting them, Donald Trump cut off the health insurance coverage that was paying for their infant’s medical treatment.
– Trump hired illegal Polish immigrants to work on one of his developments without bothering to supply them with basic safety equipment like hard hats.
– Trump University scammed working class people into borrowing and spending way too much money for an education in business that never materialized.
– Trump has done business with the mob.
– Trump has bankrupted several businesses.
– Trump has discriminated against black would-be renters of his properties.
– Trunp hired Roy Cohn — one of Senator Joseph McCarthy’s attack dogs during the red scare — as his lawyer.
– Trump businesses routinely refuse to make full final payments on bills they owe.
– When Roger Ailes resigned following allegations of sexual harassment, Trump hired him immediately.
– Trump runs a charity that is much, much more of a fraud than the Clinton Foundation.
– The link in that last item also describes Trump’s bribery of a public official.
A lot of that should sound familiar. And I mean…you see it too, right? This is not a guy who should have the most powerful job in the world. And he certainly shouldn’t get a second term.
Then there was this, right before inauguration day:
If Trump wants to get anything done, he’s going to have to make some tradeoffs, and then his choices will reveal his true nature. His supporters will find out what his presidency is really all about. They’ll find out which of them he really loves, and which get left in the cold. My guess is that he only really loves himself, so he’s only going to help people who can help him.
The reality can never live up to the promise — especially with a guy who doesn’t see a need to keep promises — and starting today, the reality of the Trump presidency is unavoidable. Whatever it is, here it comes.
I’ll close with the most haunting thing I found in my trawl through my old election posts, from a piece where I talked about what we could expect from a sociopathic president:
In the end, if Donald Trump is a sociopath, he will leave a trail of destruction behind him. His manipulations will make him the center of attention in anything he gets involved in. Some people will be conned into doing his bidding, and others will waste time and resources fighting against him. Either way, he will make everything about him. His presence will be a whirling maelstrom that cannot be ignored, and he will grind down every person, institution, or social structure he encounters.
Damn. Nailed it.