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The Case Against Trump (and Why Some of Your Friends and Family No Longer Want to Speak to You)

the-case-against-trump

I love this country. I always have. But the last few years in the USA have left me truly aghast. Just when I think that there are no more surprises left in American political life, I am handed a freshly squeezed surprise. Bluntly put, I think we’ve reached the point where Donald Trump could drown a bag of kittens on live TV, or indeed “shoot someone on 5th Avenue”, and some people will still consider him the lesser of two evils.

The way I see it, there are two types of Trump voter. There is the hardcore MAGA fanatic, who attends the rallies, wears the red hat, and maybe even follows the Qanon boards. They follow Trump with a level of devotion that is implacable. They will never believe that Donald Trump is anything other than the savior of our country, sent by God to deliver us from a multitude of politically correct and liberal attacks. They cannot be reasoned with, nor would I try.

The other type of voter, the ones I am appealing to with this article, are not like that at all. These are good people, moral people, who simply voted for Trump because they believed he was the best choice for the values they hold. They don’t think he’s the greatest president to sit in the White House, but they believe he was a better choice than Clinton. Or perhaps they are just dyed-in-the-wool Republicans who always vote red, no matter whom.

Are you one of those people? If so, I have just one question. Are you planning on voting for him again in November? If the answer is yes, then I have another question.

Why?

I would really like to understand. Is it an economic issue? Are you fearful of paying higher taxes? Are you worried about having to pay for someone else’s health insurance? Or benefits to those you consider undeserving? Okay, I understand. I don’t agree, but I understand. But let me ask you a question. Do you not think that we might be beyond that now? Can you consider the possibility that there is a bigger picture, and the choice can no longer be pared down to tax breaks or welfare spending?

For those of us who did not vote for Donald Trump, and perhaps those of us who did but have come to regret that decision, there is an emotional and moral detachment at play in you if you still view this coming election as simply political. It’s not. It stopped being a political choice a while ago. This is now a moral choice. It has to be because Trump has no political beliefs. Not one considered, passionately-held, factually backed-up, political belief. He believes in nothing, save his own enrichment and survival. If you haven’t figured this out yet then you haven’t been paying attention. Or rather, you have been paying attention to what he says and not what he does.

Donald Trump has been playing the long-game, and much of his political survival depends on the rationalizations that his voters are prepared to make on his behalf. The longer he has been in office, the more stretched those rationalizations for his behavior become. Perhaps you have even used a few of them yourself.

He just speaks his mind.
He’s a little rough around the edges, but he loves this country.
He’s not a politician.
That’s just who he is.
He’ll become more presidential.
He’ll listen to good advice.

Donald Trump deals in a very targeted, deliberate, and well-practiced rhetoric. It is designed to make white working and middle class Americans feel aggrieved and victimized. Coupled with this are policy positions that offer a soothing balm to these woes. Theoretical solutions that provide comfort to those who want to avoid any semblance of nuance in their political considerations. He provides easy answers to complex questions, then makes sure your attention is placed elsewhere, so you won’t see how hollow they really are.

He lies through his teeth, and rarely, if ever, says anything of substance. He can speak, flat-out, for 30 minutes and say absolutely nothing. It’s spell-binding.

I genuinely believe that for a lot of those who voted for him in 2016, the presidency of Donald Trump has been an uncomfortable few years, if not an outright disappointment. The only reason you can possibly have to continue supporting this ignorant, rude, petulant, con artist and sexual predator is partisan politics.

I’m going to attempt to break down some of those oft-touted reasons why Donald J. Trump is the guy to stick with, and also examine some of the primary events of his tenure and his responses to them.

I would ask you to keep an open mind. Consider the points being made, all of which are far more factual than they are subjective. Entertain the possibility that you are on the wrong side of history right now.

The Economy

Fiscal conservatives love a booming economy. And yes, the economy is doing very well. Or, at least, it was before the coronavirus came along. So I have one question. Why? What did Trump do that made the economy boom? Did it actually boom because of Trump? Or was it booming anyway? Look at the GDP growth figures for the 2008–2019:

2008 -0.14%
2009 -2.54%
2010 2.56%
2011 1.55%
2012 2.25%
2013 1.84%
2014 2.45%
2015 2.88%
2016 1.57%
2017 2.22%
2018 2.93%
2019 2.30%

Trump has made a great fuss about how he inherited a broken economy from Obama. The truth is he inherited an economy that was already showing upward trends, having been recovered from the Great Recession by Obama, who inherited it from Bush. Trump continued a wave that was already rolling when he came to power. Economies are fickle, depending on a vast amount of metrics and factors to affect their performance. Presidents, all presidents, can only take so much credit for them.

Of course, it’s not all about GDP. There’s the deficit, which Trump promised to shrink. What happened to fiscal conservatism, Republicans? Trump blew up the national debt, a supposed red line for red voters. All for a tax cut that primarily helped out the wealthy. And an increase on military spending that was wholly unnecessary. When you already have the strongest military in the world, by a significant magnitude, why do you need to make it stronger?

If none of this has swayed your support for him, can you really continue to call yourself a fiscal conservative?

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Christian Values

Before his election to the presidency, Donald Trump had bragged about walking in on teenage girls getting changed at beauty pageants he owned. He was also recorded bragging about molesting women, during an Access Hollywood taping.

“I moved on her, and I failed. I’ll admit it. I did try and fuck her. She was married.

And I moved on her very heavily. In fact, I took her out furniture shopping. She wanted to get some furniture. I said, “I’ll show you where they have some nice furniture.” I took her out furniture — I moved on her like a bitch. But I couldn’t get there. And she was married. Then all of a sudden I see her, she’s now got the big phony tits and everything. She’s totally changed her look.

I better use some Tic Tacs just in case I start kissing her. You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.”

Before his election to the presidency, he had multiple affairs over the course of three marriages, and showed no remorse for any of it. This included hush money paid to adult actress Stormy Daniels, an affair apparently conducted while his wife was pregnant.

Before his election to the presidency, he was subject to 18 accusations of sexual assault, harassment, or misconduct:

Sexual assault by Jill Harth.
Sexual harassment by Temple Taggart, former Miss Utah.
Sexual misconduct by Cassandra Searles, Miss Washington 2013.
Sexual misconduct by Tasha Dixon, Miss Universe contestant.
Sexual misconduct by Mariah Billado, Miss Teen USA contestant.
Sexual harassment by Rachel Crooks.
Sexual misconduct by Jessica Leeds.
Sexual misconduct by Mindy McGillivray.
Sexual misconduct by Jennifer Murphy.
Sexual harassment by Natasha Stoynoff.
Sexual misbehaviour by Lisa Boyne.
Sexual misconduct by Kristin Anderson.
Sexual misconduct by Samantha Holvey.
Sexual assault by Summer Zervos. Later files a defamation lawsuit.
Sexual misconduct by Cathy Heller.
Sexual misconduct by Karen Virginia.
Sexual misconduct by Jessica Drake.
Sexual harassment by Ninni Laaksonen.

Before his election to the presidency Donald Trump was accused of raping a 13-year-old girl with his friend, Jeffrey Epstein (court documents can be seen here and here. The defendant also claimed that she was threatened with physical harm if she did not keep the assault quiet.

I would think that the heavily Christian GOP, and Christian voters everywhere, would want no affiliation with his man. Especially given their condemnation of Bill Clinton’s wrongdoings. I was wrong about that, however. He continues to be accepted and promoted by Christians and evangelical groups, with rare exceptions.

If you are a person of faith who voted for Trump, do you really believe that this man shares that faith? Do you fall for the phony prayer breakfast attendances and the courting of prominent evangelists? Are you that desperate to have some champion, any champion, that you will embrace someone so utterly lacking in the virtues you claim to uphold? Is there anything Godly or virtuous about this man?

What happened to the Christian values of helping the neediest, as he proposes cutting all federal assistances and turns his back on those seeking asylum? What happened to the Christian notions of tolerance, charity, and sacrifice? Do you see those virtues being displayed in the man ordered to pay $2 million in damages to non-profit groups, after using money raised by his charitable foundation to promote his campaign, pay off business debts, and purchase a portrait of himself for one of his hotels?

He has not even put on a good show when tackled about his faith. During an interview on Bloomberg Politics in 2015 Trump was asked what his favorite Bible verses are and why.

Here is the exchange:

“I wouldn’t want to get into it because to me that’s very personal. You know, when I talk about the Bible it’s very personal so I don’t want to get into verses. The Bible means a lot to me but I don’t want to get into specifics.”

“Are you an Old Testament guy or a New Testament guy?”

“Probably equal. I think it’s just incredible, the whole Bible is incredible.”

Then, in the same month, he told a South Carolina audience:

“I am Presbyterian Protestant. I go to Marble Collegiate Church. As often as I can. A lot.”

Problem is, Marble Collegiate is a Reformed, not Presbyterian, church. Also, Marble was quick to confirm that Trump “is not an active member.”

Still not convinced? Okay, when David Brody, of the Christian Broadcasting Network, asked Trump why he loves the Bible, this was his response:

“So many things, like you know, you take, whatever you want to say, there’s so many things that you can learn from it. Proverbs. The chapter ‘never bend to envy.’ I’ve had that thing all of my life where people are bending to envy.”

Can you tell me where that particular phrase is in the Bible? It doesn’t exist, does it?

What was Donald Trump’s church attendance before he suddenly needed your faith to win office? Or are you just scratching each other’s backs? Are you as happy with a transactional relationship as he is?

Even Pope Francis has called Trump out on more than one occasion, for his border policies or his stance on racism. So please don’t tell me about your prayers and Christian faith while you vote for this man, because I’m sorry to say you are a hypocrite. And you ARE betraying the values you claim to hold so dear, just as he does.

Political Ethics

Trump campaigned on the slogan “Drain the Swamp” and positioned himself as an antidote to the self-serving, dishonest, political elite. And yet he openly displays all those traits that he attributed to the “swamp dwellers.” For a start, he is a liar. He is a well documented, compulsive liar. There are so many factually established and recorded instances of Trump lying (Google it) that for you to insist otherwise marks you out as nothing more than the easy mark of an accomplished con artist.

He is also the single most self-serving president in American history.

But he doesn’t take his salary!

Classic sleight-of-hand and misdirection, from an accomplished con-artist. Make the left hand seem so beguiling that no-one will notice what the right is doing. Who needs that salary when you haven’t divested from your own businesses, most of which benefit financially from your presidency. Plus all that golfing on the tax payers dime, at your own resort.

Because Trump’s assets remain in a family-managed trust, the Trump family profit directly from his presidency. Special interests seeking to win favor with Trump know exactly how to do this. Fundraisers and galas at his resorts, with the proceeds going to his family-owned business.

The Center for Responsive Politics has tracked payments from political entities to Trump properties to the tune of $22,789,675 over the course of Trump’s presidency. Compare this to the $168,745 spent over the preceding 8 years and you can see why Trump can afford to donate his presidential salary. And why the presidency is a very profitable venture for a man who is not held accountable.

Here are some fun facts:

  • Trump has spent 127 days at Mar-a-Lago, so far.
  • Estimated cost of flights to Mar-a-Lago, as of Feb 2019, were around $64,000,000, all funded by the tax payer.
  • Trump has visited his clubs once every 4.7 days since his inauguration.
  • The projected number of visits to golf clubs in four years, based on attendance so far, is 311.
  • So the projected visits in eight years will be 622.
  • Obama’s total golf days during his eight-year Presidency was 306.

Despite promising on the campaign trail that he would be too busy to go golfing, Trump has spent nearly as much time golfing in 4 years as Obama did in 8. And always at a Trump resort, which pours tax payers’ money into his own business, estimated at around $138,000,000, so far (see here for more details). This figure includes flights, security and room charges for staff and secret service members.

And then there are the tax breaks for people that are, well, just like Trump. And no tax returns handed over (as promised) to prove he hasn’t benefitted from them, unlike every other modern President.

You want a more recent example? Then how about the fact that the administration has refused to disclose the recipients of $660 billion in taxpayer-funded business loans during the coronavirus pandemic, despite assurances that they would do just that. Let’s not forget that Trump publicly refused to commit that his businesses would not receive any funds from this pot.

Or how about Trump using his presidential pardon power to commute the sentence of convicted felon Roger Stone? A man who was convicted on seven charges, including lying to Congress, witness tampering and obstructing a congressional committee proceeding. All of these were done, by Stone’s admission, to protect Trump. If that is not corrupt use of presidential powers, please tell me what is. Not even Nixon went that far.

In the Trump administration transparency is avoided at all costs. Recently, Trump has either fired or replaced five inspectors general, all of whom were performing oversight on his administration. Why is that? Why does he constantly act like a man with something to hide?

And then there is the incessant lying. As of January 2020, President Trump had made 16,241 false or misleading claims. That’s over 1,095 days, which means an average of 14.8 a day. That’s incredible by anyone’s standards. That is the level you would get in a fairytale character, or a nursery rhyme, with a cautionary message at the end. He lies even when he doesn’t have to. He can’t help himself. Trump has out-lied every politician, every “swamp dweller” that ever walked the halls of power in this county.

So if you are going to vote for him again, because he is so much more ethical than those career politicians, think again. Your savior is just about the most corrupt man to ever walk the halls of The White House.

America’s Institutions and International Standing

This president has managed to trample, denigrate, despoil, or otherwise belittle just about every institution that Americans hold dear. He’s dismissive of the intelligence community, because they dared suggest that our democracy was under attack from foreign players. He will belittle any agency that focuses on facts rather than spins stories that support Trump’s worldview. He peddles in unfounded “Deep State” conspiracy theories, providing no evidence, and casts himself as the innocent victim in some imaginary political melodrama.

The Autocrat
Donald Trump has no regard for the justice system, withholding witnesses and ignoring subpoenas. He has engaged in flagrant cover-ups, and fires any public servant who puts the country’s interests above his own. He pardons, or teases the promise of a pardon, to cronies and peers and right-wing enablers, in order to ensure their silence. He is the very definition of an autocrat.

In fact, when asked about the checks and balances between the legislative and executive branches of government, Trump referred to them as archaic. He added, “Maybe at some point we’ll have to take those rules on, because, for the good of the nation, things are going to have to be different.” This, from a man who congratulated China’s President, Xi Jinping, for eliminating term limits and awarding himself a lifetime presidency. You think he’s kidding? Trump has always had warmer words for the autocrats and dictators of the world than for the democratically elected leaders.

Some examples:

On Chinese President Xi
“He’s now president for life. President for life. No, he’s great. And look, he was able to do that. I think it’s great. Maybe we’ll have to give that a shot some day.”

To Russian President Vladimir Putin (while gesturing to the press)
“Get rid of them. Fake news is a great term, isn’t it? You don’t have this problem in Russia but we do.”

And about Putin
“If he says great things about me, I’m going to say great things about him. I’ve already said, he is really very much of a leader. I mean, you can say, ‘Oh, isn’t that a terrible thing’ — the man has very strong control over a country. Now, it’s a very different system, and I don’t happen to like the system. But certainly, in that system, he’s been a leader, far more than our president has been a leader.”

On Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte (who boasted about killing drug dealers when he was a local mayor and has overlooked extrajudicial killings of drugs suspects)
“I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem.”

On Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (having cracked down on Turkish civil society, the media, and his opponents)
“Frankly, he’s getting very high marks. He’s also been working with the United States. We have a great friendship and the countries — I think we’re right now as close as we’ve ever been … a lot of that has to do with a personal relationship.”

On Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi (who took power in a coup and has been accused of multiple human rights abuses)
“We agree on so many things. I just want to let everybody know in case there was any doubt that we are very much behind President el-Sisi. He’s done a fantastic job in a very difficult situation. We are very much behind Egypt and the people of Egypt. The United States has, believe me, backing, and we have strong backing.”

On North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un (who, among many other things, executed his Uncle with an anti-aircraft gun)
“Well, first of all, let me say that I think that Kim Jong Un, or Chairman Kim, as some people say, is looking to create a nation that has great strength economically. I think he’s very much — I talk to him a lot about it, and he’s very much into the fact that — he believes, like I do, that North Korea has tremendous economic potential like perhaps few other developing nations anywhere in the world.”

The Department of Justice
Trump has made every attempt to transform the Justice Department into his own personal enforcement agency, purging any independent application of the law which does not suit his purpose. From the moment he asked James Comey for personal loyalty, he made it clear that he finds no value in government of the people, by the people, for the people. It’s all about how it works for him, not us. Nothing demonstrates this better than his reaction to Jeff Sessions’ recusal from overseeing the Mueller Investigation. Although there was an absolute legal requirement for the Attorney General to recuse himself, given his extensive and active ties with the Trump campaign, Trump took it as a personal betrayal. In his eyes, Sessions’ job as AG was to protect Trump, not to uphold the rule of law. This is unacceptable in a President.

Impeachment and Abuses of Power
Trump was impeached for attempting to leverage $400 million in aid to Ukraine in exchange for an investigation to uncover dirt on Joe Biden and his son. Trump was keen to find information relating to (Joe’s son) Hunter Biden’s seat on the board of Ukrainian company Burisma, when his father was Vice President. Although the fact of Hunter’s position on the board is undoubtedly shady-looking, nothing illegal or unseemly has ever been proven. And for Trump to scream “nepotism” while his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and daughter, Ivanka, have numerous roles in his administration, is extremely hypocritical. Apart from their lack of governmental experience, there is also the fact that Kushner was unable to obtain security clearance due to his business ties with foreign governments.

The recent release of John Bolton’s book The Room Where It Happened has highlighted further instances where Trump has abused his position for his own ends. Whatever you might think about John Bolton and the veracity of his claims, the notion that Trump would ask China’s President Xi to help him win re-election is as plausible as it is appalling. And that’s the point, isn’t it? Whether or not it actually happened, it is easy to believe it did, because Trump has set the precedents for himself. It’s easy to believe that Trump did not know that the UK was a nuclear power. It’s easy to believe that Trump agreed to help Erdoğan end a federal investigation into a Turkish state-owned bank.

At the time of writing, there have been attempts by Attorney General William Barr to remove Geoffrey Berman, US attorney for the Southern District of New York. Among the many cases being investigated by Berman are possible foreign money connections with the Trump campaign, and an indictment of Turkish bank Halkbank, the same bank that Bolton claims Trump agreed to help Erdoğan with.

Do you really need help connecting the dots here? You okay with this? Is there a level of corruption that you are not comfortable with? Or should we start talking about Hillary’s emails again?

International Agreements
It has been clear since the beginning of his presidency that Trump has no love for international treaties and cooperative agreements. It is often less clear why. Nevertheless, he has attacked NATO, the United Nations, the G7, the World Health Organization, and the World Trade Organization. In addition he has withdrawn the US from, or renegotiated, several treaties and agreements:

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty — Ensured the US and Russia eliminate ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of about 300 to 3,400 miles. The Trump administration believes the treaty puts the US at a strategic disadvantage with China and plans to withdraw.

The Paris Agreement — A historic climate pact that included nearly every country in the world. The Obama administration joined and agreed to curb US use of fossil fuels. Trump said the deal was poorly negotiated but provided little explanation and withdrew the US.

Trans-Pacific Partnership — A huge trade deal between 12 Pacific rim countries, designed to counteract China’s economic power. Trump withdrew, saying it was unfair to American workers.

North American Free Trade Agreement — The Clinton-era trade pact between the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Trump negotiated a new agreement, the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement, but it has yet to receive congressional approval.

United Nations Human Rights Council — The US withdrew from the group (formed in 1946) after the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights criticized the Trump administration for its policy separating children from their parents at the US-Mexico border, calling it “unconscionable.”

United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization — The US withdrew in 2017, citing anti-Israel bias.

Iran Nuclear Deal — Trump pulled the US out of the agreement, negotiated by the Obama administration, to curb Iran’s nuclear weapons program. This was despite the fact that Iran was abiding by the terms. Trump has so far failed to find an alternative, and seems uninterested in doing so.

NATO — Trump has repeatedly threatened to withdraw the US from its oldest alliance, formed to counter Soviet power. Doing so would benefit Russia more so than it would the US.

The Military
Trump has politicized the military in a way that few presidents have done before him. He has often referred to “my military” or “my generals”, betraying once again his misunderstanding of the role of America’s institutions. He surrounded himself with generals at the beginning of his tenure, but most of them are now gone and many (such as Mattis and Kelly) have turned on him.

Envious of France’s Bastille Day military parade, he made every effort to organize a similar parade in Washington, eventually succeeding in having tanks roll down the streets of the nation’s capitol on Independence Day. It was a hollow display of military might that previous presidents have found unnecessary and gaudy. Not so Trump, who revels in childish displays of power and strength. Needless to say, many in the military leadership did not approve.

Recently, Trump signed an order which authorized sanctions and visa restrictions against International Criminal Court workers who are investigating US military figures for war crimes in Afghanistan. What this says is Trump believes that US military personnel can commit atrocities with impunity, and without answering to the international community. He has voiced before the opinion that he does not consider the idea of war crimes a valid one, and has pardoned some military personnel already found guilty by their own judicial process, against the wishes of his own military command. He would see the US military and intelligence services brought down to the level of ISIS or Al Qaida, free from rules of engagement and free from repercussions. This is not what the United States military is supposed to stand for.

He’s a Great Businessman

No, he’s not. Trump’s own teacher at the Wharton School of Business, William Kelly, described Trump as “the dumbest goddamn student I ever had.” To this day, Trump has gone to great lengths to prevent his grades from being released, while telling anyone who will listen what a “stable genius” he is. Well, I would imagine that geniuses tend to want people to see their grades. He certainly has never presented himself as modestly ashamed of his “genius”. Why would he try so fervently to hide the evidence of it?

He started out with a fortune given to him by his father, contradicting his own claim that he was self-made. A New York Times investigation found that Donald Trump received the equivalent of $413 million from his father’s real estate empire. His glittering career has been marked by a series of failed projects, bankruptcies, stiffed contractors (he is legendary for not paying his bills), books written by other people, and dodgy loans from foreign banks (once the American banks had begun refusing him).

Some of his more notable failures:

Trump Airlines — Planes and flight routes purchased with a $245 million loan. Defaulted after two years.

Trump: The Game — Produced in partnership with Milton Bradley, the game sold only 800,000 copies and was discontinued in 1990.

Trump Casinos — The Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City was $3 billion in debt after a single year. The Trump Marina and Trump Plaza casinos, also in Atlantic City ended up $1.8 billion in debt. And the reorganized Trump Entertainment Resorts Inc. missed an interest payment on a $53.1 million bond and declared bankruptcy.

Trump Mortgage — Lasted just over a year, folding in September 2007 after Trump predicted a booming real-estate market, at a time when it was already beginning to collapse.

Trump Steaks — In 2007 Trump struck a deal to sell Buckhead Beef through the Sharper Image, rebranding as Trump Steaks. CEO Jerry Levin said “[W]e literally sold almost no steaks.” They were pulled from shelves after just two months.

GoTrump.com — A basic rip-off of Travelocity, Trump’s site launched in 2006 and folded in 2007.

Trump University — Selling mentorships in real estate, asset management, entrepreneurship, and wealth creation for as much as $34,995 a pop. The so-called Trump Entrepreneur Initiative was supposed to put students in touch with hand-picked, personalized instructors. Actually, what students got were seminars from motivational speakers, often without any relevant qualifications. After an inquiry by the New York Attorney General’s office a lawsuit was filed in August 2013. Trump eventually settled for $25 million.

Trump Vodka — Maybe alcohol from a self-proclaimed teetotaler was never going to catch on. Two years after its launch the trademarked was abandoned.

So, he may not be a fantastic businessman, but there is one thing that Donald J. Trump excels at, and that is convincing the world that he is around 98% more successful than he actually is. He is unmatched in his ability to project a success that isn’t there. To this end, Trump has also gone to great lengths to prevent his tax returns from being released, despite countless promises to release them at various points of his presidency.

Patriotism

How about good old-fashioned patriotism? Trump loves America, right? He hugs the flag, says things like “America First” and “Make America Great Again” (see above re: deliberate rhetoric designed to make Americans feel aggrieved and victimized).

Well, okay, then. So what exactly does Trump love about America? Has he ever said? What makes America great (or made America great, given the meaning behind his favorite slogan) in Trump’s mind?

Perhaps it might help to ask by what metric you measure the greatness of a country. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has some interesting figures when comparing the US with the other 35 member countries.

Of the 36 developed countries in the OECD, the United States of America:

Do any of these make America great?

If improving any of these stats would make America great again, has Trump addressed a single one of them?

What about FREEDOM, which is usually touted as that one thing which makes America great? America is the freest country in the world, right? Wrong, according to the 2019 study The Human Freedom Index by The Cato Institute. In fact, in the ranking (based on Personal Freedom, Economic Freedom, Human Freedom, etc.) the USA comes in at 15th. It is beaten by, among others, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and Germany.

How about I list the things that I believe make America great, since it really is such a subjective thing.

Diversity. Opportunity. Sanctuary.

I’d like to think that most people agree these things are America’s strengths. These are things that have made, and do make, America great.

Here’s how Trump attacks them.

Diversity
Trump made it clear from the outset of his campaign that he would not be a champion of diversity. From his opening comments on Mexicans, to his alleged desire to have more immigrants from Norway, he has made it abundantly clear that, in his opinion, white is right. The personal politics of his senior advisors, particularly Stephen Miller, also inform his belief that immigration is something to be limited and tolerated rather than celebrated. And yet, there are few countries in the world so built on, and so dependent on, immigration. This has not stopped Trump manipulating fear of The Other for his own ends. From Mexican “rapists”, to African “shitholes”, and the “Chinese virus”, Trump’s disdain for foreigners, particular those of color, is stark, and he will lay blame for all the country’s ills at their door, every chance he gets.

Opportunity
America was, for generations, seen as the place where dreams are made. Particularly to those who arrived from other shores. During his farewell address, Ronald Reagan made the following comment:

“I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall, proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, windswept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace; a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity. And if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it, and see it still.”

And that’s how the rest of the world saw us. Not anymore. If Trump’s proposals go ahead, immigrants will not only need will and heart, but money and a degree. Trump doesn’t just target illegal immigration, which was probably a vote-winner for you, but he targets legal immigration, too. The USA will no longer be the place where dreams are made. Just another exclusive club with membership requirements.

Sanctuary
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Who imagined that such an inspirational, defining poem would become such a bitter refrain?

Sadly, it has.

America, the beacon of hope, the land of the free, the shining city on the hill, the place where the hopeless could lay their heads and escape the horrors of the outside world.

Meanwhile, in New York City, a future president was looking upon his country’s open arms and acts of kindness and seeing nothing but weakness and gullibility. But that’s how you view the world when all you see are the weak and gullible.

Trump has cut the number of refugees allowed into the US each year from 110,000 (in Obama’s final year) to 18,000. He even went so far as to limit the number of Iraqis who had worked with the US Military from finding a new home here. He has shredded the image of America that Reagan so cherished, leaving hundreds of thousands of desperate human beings to a fate we could have alleviated.

If that makes you proud, I think there is something wrong with you. If it makes you ashamed, why would you vote for more of the same?

Promises Made, Promises Kept

Trump makes big claims with his slogan. But how many of his campaign promises did he actually keep?

We’re going to build a wall, and Mexico is going to pay for it.
This is the gift that keeps on giving. Three years into his Presidency, and what has happened? After years of wrangling with Congress (the plan to make Mexico pay did not last much longer than Mexico saying no), including a 35-day government shutdown, Trump has succeeded in diverting $3.8 billion from the military for border barriers (not really a wall anymore, either).

As of December 17, 2019, acting Commissioner of U.S. CBP Mark Morgan stated that 93 miles of new wall has been built during the Trump administration. But, according to CBP figures, at least 90 miles of that were replacements to existing structures.

We’ve got to get rid of the $19 trillion in debt.
This one really backfired. Thanks to Trump’s massive tax cut, mainly for high earners and businesses, the debt now stands at $25.2 trillion. Rather than get rid of it, Trump simply added another $5.2 trillion (it was a little under $20 trillion when he took office).

I will be immediately repealing and replacing the disaster known as Obamacare.
Trump’s obsession with reversing anything that bears Obama’s name is legendary, and repealing the ACA was his signature promise. However, this has not been achieved, despite every effort by him and the GOP to do so. The closest they have come is to roll back the Individual Mandate, a core funding source for the ACA.

Republicans were shocked to discover that the ACA was actually extremely popular with voters. Who knew that people would have liked having healthcare?

Trump has now decided to ask the Supreme Court to invalidate the entire Affordable Care Act, potentially throwing 23 million people off healthcare in the middle of a pandemic. How are you okay with that?

Insurance for everybody, no cuts to Medicaid, no one will lose coverage, everybody’s going to be taken care of, we’re going to have a phenomenal health plan, we will protect pre-existing conditions, etc.
Yeah, no. Trump and the GOP were so busy trying to repeal Obamacare that no-one bothered to address the “replace” part. And they still haven’t produced a coherent, convincing health plan in nearly four years. Not even close. All, or most, of Trump’s budget proposals have involved cutting Medicaid. And the Trump administration has been in court to try and gain full repeal of the ACA which would include protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

Some other promises not kept

Bring back water-boarding*
Stop the AT&T/Time Warner merger
Remove existing Syrian refugees*
Allow individuals to deduct health care insurance premiums from taxes
Cut the number of tax brackets
Sue his many accusers of sexual assault and misconduct*
Enact term limits
Release his tax returns
Expand right to carry to all 50 states*
Establish a Muslim ban*
Eliminate the Carried Interest loophole
Medicaid thru block grants
Grow the economy by 4% a year
Impose death penalty for cop killers*
Renegotiate the Iran deal*
Place lifetime ban on foreign lobbyists raising money for American elections
Add additional federal investment of $20 billion toward School Choice
Get Congress to allow health insurance across state lines
Use U.S. steel for infrastructure projects
Eliminate Common Core
Open up Libel Laws*
Will not take vacations
Will not go golfing (go here for the truth)

*Disclaimer: I’m happy that he did not keep these. You may not be.

And some he has kept

Take no salary
Won’t say “Happy Holidays”
Move U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem
Keep Guantanamo Bay Detention Center open
Cancel the Paris climate agreement
Create a 10-percent repatriation tax
Raise tariffs on goods imported into the U.S.
Limit legal immigration
Stop TPP
Cut federal regulations
Declare China a currency manipulator
Ask countries we protect to pay more for joint defense
Save the Carrier plant in Indiana
Reverse Barack Obama’s 2016 gun executive order
Renegotiate NAFTA
Create private White House veterans hotline

The Man and His Deeds

Ask yourself these questions:

Do you like Donald Trump? Are you proud of him? Is he someone you look up to? Is he someone you admire? Does he inspire you? Would you like to be like him? Is he any kind of role model? Would you want to hang out with him? Would you want your daughter to hang out with him? Would you want your son, or grandson, to turn out like him? Do you trust him?

Don’t you think the President of the United States should tick a few of those boxes? How did the bar get set so low? When did the character and moral fiber of the President become so inconsequential? It sure as hell wasn’t inconsequential when Bill Clinton was President. Fantastic economy, but one blow job and he was on his way to impeachment. How is this not a double standard? How is this not “partisan politics”?

The things that this man has done, and which have become normalized, and overlooked, and excused (often to avoid having to confront the darkness in one’s own soul), are staggering when viewed in their entirety. Taken day-by-day, and one-by-one, people have become numb to his abnormal behaviors.

I did originally compose a list of things that Trump has done, said, or enacted, that demonstrate how offensive his administration has been. Unbelievably, it ran to 7 pages (in a smaller font size than this), and I really didn’t think it would get read. So I’m going to consolidate a little.

Trump Speaks, Trump Tweets
Nothing exposes Trump for the man he is quite like the simple act of opening his mouth and speaking, or picking up his phone and tweeting. He has said some things that would have finished the careers of other politicians, but somehow he rarely finds the rebuke he deserves.

Here are some choice examples:

On Ivanka Trump
“I’ve said if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.”

On Obama
“ISIS is honoring President Obama. He is the founder of ISIS. He is the founder of ISIS, OK? He’s the founder. He founded ISIS.”

On John McCain
“He’s not a war hero. He was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” Says the guy who dodged the draft.

On Megyn Kelly
“You know, you could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.”

On two supporters who beat a homeless Latino man
“I will say, the people that are following me are very passionate. They love this country and they want this country to be great again. They are passionate.”

On Omarosa Manigault Newman
“When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out. Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!”

Trump praises Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi
“I just want to let everybody know in case there was any doubt that we are very much behind President el-Sisi.” The Egyptian President had sentenced 17 Egyptians to jail for protesting his regime. He had been barred from the White House for four years.

On his first 100 days in office
“I thought this would be easier.”

Having just fired James Comey, Trump jokes with the Russian Foreign Minister and Russian Ambassador
“I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job… I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.” He later admits in an interview that he fired Comey over the Russia investigation. At the same meeting he shares highly classified information.

And there’s more…

  • During a campaign speech Trump imitates, and appears to mock, reporter Serge Kovaleski, who has arthrogryposis, a congenital condition affecting the joints.
  • Trump allegedly says Haitians “all have AIDS” and Nigerian immigrants wouldn’t ever “go back to their huts.”
  • After a protester is killed by a white nationalist during the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Trump refuses to condemn the white nationalists, blaming instead the “hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.”
  • At the UN General Assembly, Trump calls Kim Jong-un “Rocket Man” and threatens to “totally destroy North Korea.” He also applauds the healthcare system of African nation Nambia. There is no such place.
  • Asked about all the vacant high-level positions in the State Department, Donald Trump replies — “I’m the only one that matters, because when it comes to it, that’s what the policy is going to be. You’ve seen that, you’ve seen it strongly.”
  • Trump retweets anti-Muslim videos by Jayda Fransen, deputy leader of Britain First, a notorious white nationalist group.
  • Trump on whether Democrats had committed treason for withholding their applause during his State of the Union Address — “Can we call that treason? Why not? I mean, they certainly didn’t seem to love our country very much.”
  • At a joint press conference in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Trump sides with Putin against the US intelligence community. His response to a question on Russian interference in the 2016 election — “They said they think it’s Russia; I have President Putin, he just said it’s not Russia. I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be. I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.”
  • Trump is laughed at during a speech to the United Nations — “In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country.” Trump claims “They weren’t laughing at me, they were laughing with me.”
  • Trump makes disparaging remarks about the Admiral behind Osama Bin Laden’s killing, Admiral William McRaven — “Wouldn’t it have been nice if we got Osama bin Laden a lot sooner than that, wouldn’t it have been nice?”
  • Trump tweets — “In the beautiful Midwest, windchill temperatures are reaching minus 60 degrees, the coldest ever recorded. In coming days, expected to get even colder. People can’t last outside even for minutes. What the hell is going on with Global Warming? Please come back fast, we need you!” Not the only time he fails to understand the difference between climate and weather.
  • Trump complains that he wasn’t thanked for giving John McCain “the kind of funeral he wanted.”
  • Trump praises Republican Congressman Greg Gianforte, who plead guilty to assault for body-slamming Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs — “Any guy that can do a body slam — he’s my kind of guy.”
  • Trump says he would be willing to accept information about political rivals from a foreign government.
  • On 1.5 million Americans testing positive for coronavirus — “When you say that we lead in cases, that’s because we have more testing than anybody else. So when we have a lot of cases, I don’t look at that as a bad thing. I look at that as, in a certain respect, as being a good thing because it means our testing is much better. So I view it as a badge of honor. Really, it’s a badge of honor.”
  • On his own COVID-19 tests — “In another sense, I tested positively toward negative, right? So no. I tested perfectly this morning, meaning I tested negative. But that’s a way of saying it. Positively toward the negative.”

To say that this is the tiniest fraction of examples would be an understatement. There are countless times that Donald Trump has said things that were offensive, ignorant, inflammatory, insulting, misogynistic, or all of the above. If you want to see for yourself, just look at his Twitter account. Do it every day for a week and you will see.

The Obama Obsession
It started with the whole ‘birther’ movement, continued with an argument about crowd sizes, and has never let up. For whatever reason, and there are a few possible explanations, Trump seems to be obsessed with outdoing, smearing and erasing the Obama administration. Most of the shortcomings of his own administration he has blamed on Obama, almost always without evidence or validation.

As a result of this pathological hatred, Trump has done significant damage to the country’s own natural resources, the fight against climate change, animal welfare, worker safety, human rights, and more. If Obama put a regulation or plan in place to improve conditions somewhere, Trump has reversed it, often without any explanation.

Along with this, Trump has also implemented some policy and regulation roll-backs, unrelated to Obama, which are just as damaging.

Here are some examples:

  • Trump signs an executive order to allow the Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines, blocked by Obama, because of environmental concerns and intrusion onto sacred Native American grounds.
  • Trump rolls back Obama’s Mercury Effluent Rule, regulating the safe disposal of mercury in dental offices.
  • Trump rolls back Obama’s regulation requiring oil companies to provide details of minerals purchased from foreign governments.
  • Trump repeals the Stream Protection rule, which prevents coal companies from dumping waste into rivers. The rule is, of course, Obama’s.
  • Trump signs an executive order rolling back Obama’s directive allowing transgender students to use the school bathroom of their gender identity.
  • Trump reverses Obama’s decision to phase out for-profit prisons.
  • Trump accuses President Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower. He presents no evidence, and his own Justice Department had already debunked the claim.
  • Trump reverses Obama’s Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces regulations, which protected workers against safety hazards during government contracts.
  • Trump rolls back Obama’s law requiring employers to keep records of employee injuries.
  • Trump rolls back Obama’s protections to help students with their student loan payments.
  • The Trump Administration moves to end funding for Michelle Obama’s Let Girls Learn initiative, which educates young women in developing countries.
  • The Trump administration rolls back Obama’s healthy school lunch standards.
  • Trump withdraws from the Paris Climate Agreement, signed during the Obama administration. This leaves the US and Syria as the only countries to reject it.
  • The Trump administration rolls back Obama’s efforts to open diplomatic ties with Cuba.
  • The Trump Administration begins rolling back emission standards for cars and light trucks.
  • The Trump administration ends a $400,000 grant for Life After Hate, a group that works to eradicate white nationalism.
  • Trump ends the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Once again this is an Obama legislation, protecting nearly 800,000 young people who arrived in the US as children.
  • The Trump administration denies endangered species protection for 25 species facing extinction from climate change.
  • The Trump administration reverses Obama’s protections for employer-provided birth control.
  • Trump moves to repeal the Obama’s Clean Power Act, which lowers carbon dioxide emissions 32 percent by 2030.
  • Trump scraps healthcare subsidies that help low-income Americans meet out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Trump’s EPA multiplies the threshold for dangerous amounts of radiation by ten times that set by Obama.
  • The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is signed into law, repealing the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate.
  • Trump renews copper and nickel mining in Minnesota’s protected Boundary Waters, after lobbying from interests with connections to Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.
  • Trump rolls back offshore drilling regulations, which were put in place after the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
  • Trump renews an Obama-era law he had previously repealed, allowing employers to randomly drug-test workers who receive unemployment insurance.
  • The Trump administration rolls back Obama’s ban on imported African elephant trophies.
  • Trump announces that the USA will withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, negotiated by Obama and six other countries, with which Iran had been abiding.
  • The Trump administration announces plans to roll back Obama’s coal emissions standards.
  • Trump announces (at the NRA’s annual meeting) that the United States will drop out of an international arms treaty signed in 2013 by President Obama.
  • Trump repeals Obama’s Clean Air Act which tackles emission standards.
  • Trump reverses banned hunting techniques, such as baiting grizzly bears with doughnuts soaked in bacon grease (and then using spotlights to blind and shoot hibernating black bear mothers and their cubs in their dens). Also back on the menu is gunning down swimming caribou from motorboats.

I don’t know how many of those you care about. Maybe you are okay with some of them, maybe most of them. Profit over people, though, is not good policy. Never has been, and never will be. Not if you want your grandchildren to have a planet worth living on. There is a negligent cruelty in many of those roll-backs. A single-mindedness that ultimately benefits very few, and harms more.

Do you really want to be party to another four years of that? Can you imagine what a newly enabled President Trump will damage with a stroke of his Sharpie? We may never recover.

The COVID-19 Pandemic

Recent events have placed Donald Trump’s incompetence and ineffectiveness in sharp light, for all to see. Of course, no-one can accuse Trump of being responsible for the existence of the coronavirus, and there is probably nothing he or anyone could have realistically done to prevent it reaching the US. He did close travel from China at an early stage and that undoubtedly had a positive impact. And it is beyond argument that China was way too slow to admit what was going on. But that does not mean that Trump’s overall response has been a “10”, as he once maintained.

Not even close.

Here is a timeline of the outbreak, and the Trump Administration’s actions and inactions.

May 2018
The Trump administration, specifically through John Bolton, fires the executive branch team responsible for coordinating pandemic responses.

Dec. 31, 2019
The Associated Press reports that China is investigating an “outbreak of respiratory illness in the central city of Wuhan.”

Jan. 6, 2020
The CDC warns Americans to take precautions when traveling to China.

Jan. 8
The CDC issues an alert about the coronavirus, saying it is “closely monitoring” the disease and there are “no known U.S. cases.”

Jan. 11
China reports its first death.

Jan. 14
The World Health Organization issues a statement about the first COVID-19 case outside of China, saying, “There is no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission.