Believe it or not there are people who still insist that Donald Trump never lied and that he was a great president. Such people are probably unreachable by anything remotely resembling the objective truth. But there’s a salvageable middle ground of Trump supporters who can still be reached. They’re the ones who admit they don’t like him much, could have done without his toxic tweets and insufferable braggadocio, but who still say things like, “You have to admit he had some great policies.”
Okay, let’s talk about Trump’s policies. It’s one thing to have a problem with a man who claims to be a millionaire but won’t let you see his tax returns, who claims to be a genius but threatens his alma maters with lawsuits if they reveal his grades, claims to be a great businessman after bankrupting his casinos, claims to be a lady’s man who has to pay for sex, claims to be a philanthropist who was banned from starting a charity, claims to be a patriot deserving the Medal of Honor who dodged the draft with college deferrals and fake bone spurs, decidedly all that. But his policies? Well, you can’t touch him there, right?
Wrong. One of the first things Donald Trump did after taking office was to start a wholly unnecessary trade war with China. His trade war actually increased the deficit and served absolutely no purpose, unless you regard his providing economists and trade experts with absolute proof that he didn’t have a clue what he was doing and he was unreservedly stupid. Thanks to Trump, hundreds of American farmers went bankrupt because Russia overtook the US as the chief importer of soy into China. (That in fact may have been Trump’s only reason for creating the trade war in the first place, to please Vladimir Putin.) The tariffs also substantially increased the cost of manufacturing components which led to wholly unnecessary inflation.That’s right, a president can actually cause inflation if he’s stupid enough. How’s that for Trump’s brilliant policies? But I’m just getting started.
Thanks to the huge, wholly unnecessary tax cut that Trump endorsed, touted as a “middle-class miracle,” and signed into law, billionaires paid a lower tax rate than the working class for the first time in history. It awarded corporations and the richest 1% unprecedented tax relief, while doing virtually nothing for the lower middle classes and the poor, who ultimately were left shouldering most of the tax burden the wealthy partied on. In the 26 months between the tax bill and the economy’s peak before the pandemic, economic growth actually slowed by about two-thirds.
Not such terrible examples of policy, you say? Try this on for size. In 2019 Donald Trump, possibly under the influence of Vladimir Putin, began to deliberately undermine American operations in Afghanistan. It all began with a private meeting Trump had with the Taliban at Camp David on the 18th anniversary of 9/11. No, I’m not making this up. It was there that Trump met with the renegade Taliban leaders without the knowledge or participation of the legitimate Afghan government. He then negotiated the release of 5,000 Taliban terrorists.
Then there’s this: Just before the 2020 election, Trump committed to total American troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, 100 days after he knew he might be out of office. After he lost the election Trump announced that before leaving office he would reduce American troops in Afghanistan to its lowest level of the entire occupation. This drew so much criticism from both parties in Congress that they passed the National Defense Authorization Act, which in part prevented the removal of any American troops from Afghanistan prior to Trump’s inauguration. Trump vetoed the bill, but the veto was quickly overridden. Five days before leaving office, he illegally withdrew the troops anyway. He was absolutely determined to do Putin’s bidding, and nothing was going to stop him.
Then there’s the matter of Trump’s “policy” during the pandemic. Early in his administration Trump dismantled Barack Obama’s robust pandemic response team, principally because Trump hated Obama and was deeply jealous of the 44th President’s enormous popularity. So when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Trump was left wholly unprepared. Trump exacerbated his unpreparedness by denying that Covid was a threat, promising that it would go away by April of 2020, “like a miracle.” Trump also made it a point to exploit the pandemic by making it political. This had the effect of creating a deeper rift between Republicans and Democrats than already existed. Suddenly not wearing a mask and not socially distancing and not taking the vaccine became a Republican badge of honor. To date more than a million Americans have died of Covid, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of businesses that permanently closed. All thanks to Donald Trump and his “policy.”
Now, I don’t know if blackmailing the president of Ukraine for a corrupt purpose constitutes “policy,” or fomenting a deadly insurrection that kills five people, destroys millions of dollars in property and threatens the lives of members of Congress and his own Vice President constitutes “policy,” or denying that he lost the election and undermining America’s faith in the whole democratic process constitutes “policy,” so I’ll leave those things off the list. But, damn, it sure makes the guy look like a total asshole, doesn’t it? So much so one wonders why anyone would want to defend his policies in the first place. Not that he had any good policies anyway.
So next time some smug, sanctimonious Trumper starts banging on about how great Donald Trump’s policies were, ask him or her to name a few. After they’ve told you to do your own research, tell them you have. You may quote this article or discover some other odious policies Trump had for yourself. Either way there were many of them — we have what you might call an embarrassment of riches when it comes to Donald Trump’s horrible policies — and they were all truly horrible indeed. Every last one of them. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.