The least controversial thing you can say about America’s forty-fifth President is that he’s a liar.
At 70 years of age, he’s been walking this earth for a long time — and in his decades as a business tycoon — he’s left behind a trail of wreckage, including discarded wives, betrayed business partners and broken promises.
That 81% of the Born Again voting bloc chose him as the exemplar of their values must be thoroughly embarrassing for them, considering the contempt he shows toward any conventional definition of human decency. The only unanswered question is whether he’s a masterful manipulator or simply a broken clock.
While you might not think it’s a useful exercise to catalog his lies now that the unthinkable has already happened, we can only avoid repeating our mistakes if we take the time to fully understand them. Here’s how Trump bluffed and bullshitted his way to the White House by convincing Rural America he spoke for them.
“I’ll Bring Back Your Jobs”
One of the most significant campaign issues championed by this man — and the one which folks were most willing to trust him because of his business experience — is the tragedy of America’s vanishing middle class. Once the envy of the developed world, the middle class no longer represents a majority in America — thus underscoring the unprecedented divide between America’s richest and poorest citizens.
There, in the middle, are millions of Americans in the Rust Belt who’ve been waiting for a champion. They’ve seen their steel mill jobs get sent to China, their factory jobs sent to Vietnam and their coal jobs get sent — well, nowhere, really, because coal is dead.
Very dead, according to any economist with a pulse. Despite this, when he stumped all over the impoverished pockets of Rust Belt America, Trump promised desperate former coal workers that he would bring back their jobs — and their dying industry.
What’s happening instead? The U.S. is hemorrhaging jobs — decent-paying, stable jobs for skilled and semi-skilled workers — in the clean energy industries. We need lots of people to design, deploy and maintain solar panels and wind farms. We need new approaches to hydroelectric and nuclear power. Folks are calling green energy the fourth industrial revolution.
Right now, these brand-new jobs are all going to China. Have you seen this supercut of Trump scapegoating China for the world’s problems? It would be comical if he wasn’t deadly serious. In recent days, Trump has softened on China and gotten tougher on Russia — a stunning reversal, even for him — but on the campaign trail, Trump vilified China to get his base riled up. And it worked. Trouble is, he was right to fear for America’s hegemony — he was just breathtakingly wrong about the reasons.
Instead, we all had to waste time debunking nonsense like “China made up global warming” while China and neighboring India became world leaders in clean energy almost overnight. That should have been America — and those should have been American jobs. For all his talk of winning, Donald Trump sure looks like a loser right now.
“A Great Deal”
Before we close, it’s worth noting that while Trump made the boldest claims about his economic plans for the United States, he also promised to help tear down the Affordable Care Act and replace it with “a great deal” for working Americans.
I trust you’ve seen how this has played out so far. Trump and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan have both demonstrated not merely a catastrophic lack of competence but also a disregard for human life that borders on criminally insane.
If Trump and Ryan repeal the ACA, 43,000 people will die each year. Each year. Think about that — and then cast your mind back in time a few years to recall the GOP’s hysterical public chants of “Obamacare is made of death panels!”
The GOP wasn’t being honest with you then, and Trump isn’t being honest with you now. Perhaps accusing him of dishonesty on this issue is a bit too generous — given his many public comments on the topic of healthcare, he appears to know literally nothing about the subject.
Despite not uttering a single substantive syllable about healthcare on the campaign trail, Trump convinced millions of working Americans that rising healthcare prices — which have been rising faster than inflation for half a century — was somehow President Obama’s (or Hillary Clinton’s) fault.
There’s not a shred of doubt that the Affordable Care Act needs work, but its primary function was to force insurance companies to stop abusing poor and sick folks. By that metric, it’s been wildly successful.
Waiting on a Savior
Working Americans are right to worry that neither of America’s two major parties speak for them any longer. Republicans have been coasting on vitriol and leveraging public ignorance for a long time, but Democrats have possibly failed even more completely by pointedly turning their back on huge portions of the country that were left behind a long time ago. Crony capitalism and rigged democracy have replaced the politics of “We’re all in this together.”
Be that as it may, working Americans were still tragically wrong to invest their hopes in a man with such a long and public track record of blatant dishonesty and unscrupulousness.
In 1989, Trump placed a $100,000 order for grand pianos from a small business owner. When Trump’s casinos took delivery of the pianos but refused to pay for them, that small business was nearly ruined — along with the family who owned it.
This is just a single example. In the course of his professional life, Trump has been involved in more than 3,500 lawsuits. It’s unprecedented in American politics — and not something that’s generally true about good and trustworthy people. One-tenth that many lawsuits should have been disqualifying for a would-be President, but here we are.
That so many of us took him seriously is an embarrassment we won’t recover from on the international stage for a very long time. Learning from that embarrassment is the only way out.
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