What can I say about Donald Trump that hasn’t already been said? Let’s find out!
I’ll start with the obvious: By any reasonable measure, Donald Trump is the worst person to have ever been nominated by a major party in the United States, and he will be the worst person to be elected on the off chance he doesn’t completely implode over the next six months. Now, simply being a bad person, the kind of guy who’d get violent with his wife over a bad day at the hair restoration joint, doesn’t disqualify you from the office.
Trump’s campaign promises have been…interesting…to say the least. His most recent speech did a marvelous job of pinpointing a very legitimate point of pain for many Americans.
Yesterday, she even tried to attack me and my many businesses. But here is the bottom line: I started off in Brooklyn New York, not so long ago, with a small loan and built a business worth over 10 billion dollars. I have always had a talent for building businesses and, importantly, creating jobs. That is a talent our country desperately needs.
I am running for President to end the unfairness and to put you, the American worker, first.
We are going to put America First, and we are going to Make America Great again.
This election will decide whether we are ruled by the people, or by the politicians.
That kind of populist nationalism resonates, but is there any real reason to believe he actually believes what he’s saying? Campaign Trump is the same guy who gave an awkward speech at a religious university betraying a complete lack of familiarity with the subject of faith. He’s the one who talked about defaulting on the national debt. He wants racial profiling. He wants to make Mexico pay for a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. If you’re going to take him at his word on the good things he says, you have to take the nutty stuff too.
But why should you take him at his word? Not only is Campaign Trump wildly at odds with pre-Campaign Trump, he’s also a profoundly dishonest person. Compare Trump’s record on the fact checking sites against Hillary Clinton’s. The TL/DR: While Clinton is often less than 100% accurate, Trump’s in a league of his own when it comes to pulling facts out of his ass. He lies. He lies constantly. There are those who would call this “masterful rhetoric,” but it’s just plain, garden variety lying.
I suggest that a better way to get a measure of Donald Trump is to look at what he’s done, as opposed to what he’s saying he wants to do now that he’s trying to get people to vote for him. His actions may be dishonest, but at least they’re his actions, right?
There are basically two hallmarks of how Donald Trump does business. He gets people to pay for things that he doesn’t deliver, and he gets people to do work for him or provide services without paying for them. Trump University gets a lot of attention, and rightly so. It was a scam dressed up as an educational program designed to get people to empty their wallets in exchange for getting the “instructors” to stop bugging them about emptying their wallets. Trump resorts? Ask the investors. Just Google “Trump” and “investors” and “sue.”
Then there’s the matter of not paying people. He brags about his multiple bankruptcies as “good business,” but understand them for they are: They’re screw people he owes money to out of the money he owes them. When you’re broke and can’t feed yourself, bankruptcy is a good way out. When you have boatloads of cash and just don’t feel like paying? You’re being a dick. Of course, he doesn’t just screw banks, he screws the working man too! He just flat out bilks contractors out of the money they’re owed on the principle that he can. It’s true, but again, he’s being a dick.
So, you know, all that populist stuff he’s spouting about being on the side of the American worker? It’s all crap. He routinely screws the American worker and he brags about it. He’s proud of it. That’s what’s made him the man he is today.
Trump’s got a race problem, too. Even if you discount all of the blatantly racist stuff he’s encouraging on the campaign trail, his problem goes way back and it runs in the family. Vice.com, of all sites, has the most in-depth look at the allegations that Donald’s father, Fred, was a Klansman. It’s worth a read, and I never thought I’d say that about Vice. The short version is that a man named Fred Trump was arrested at a Klan rally in New York in 1927, but wasn’t charged. The papers identify this Fred Trump as living at the same location as Donald Trump’s father did. They also say that all the arrested were wearing Klan robes. I’ll let you draw the conclusions.
In 1972, Donald himself was at the center of a federal lawsuit alleging racial discrimination on his part. I know it’s a long time ago, but if you read the article, you’ll recognize the Donald Trump we see today. When attacked, he attacks back, even if there’s no basis in it. It’s a weird sort of “anti-truth.” If you punched me in the face, it would be a lie if you said “I did not punch you in the face.” The anti-truth version would be “No, YOU punched ME in the face.” There’s the bluster, the “win at all cost” tactics, and then, of course, he settled the suit because, well, duh, he was being racist as hell. If you can stand going to the Huffington Post, there’s a pretty good list of additional examples of racism by The Donald.
It’s not hard to see why Trump is the darling of the alt-right. He favors a sort of populist, borderline racist version of nationalism. He wants to make America great again, and that means white and Christian if you can hear that particular dog-whistle pitch. He hates “political correctness,” which is to say, he hates that people want him to treat other people with respect. Most importantly, he’s about winning by any means available, regardless of the principles involved. Even when he’s wrong (and my oh my is he wrong about a lot things), he has to win. That’s alt-right ideology in a nutshell, isn’t it?
So, really, what it boils down to is this: Can Trump continue to keep the rabid support of the racist, sexist, nationalist fringe who identify so strongly with him while at the same time convincing enough of the rest of America that he’s really just a populist outsider who has America’s best interests at heart? That’s a hell of a tightrope, isn’t it? Even if he somehow manages to keep it together, is that coalition enough to win the general election? In firing up his base, he’s shit all over women and non-whites. Those are huge demographics to write off.
If he does make it to November (and there’s a non-zero chance he won’t), I think election night will go badly for him. A lot can happen between now and then, but he’s been Donald Trump for a long, long time now, and Donald Trump is, at the core, an asshole. We’ve elected jerks before, but never anyone like Donald Trump. For once, the hyperbole is correct: Donald Trump is the worst.