Donald took to the business world enthusiastically, especially after his father gave him a personal financial stake of several million dollars. Bored with mundane investments of ordinary residential and business properties, he envisioned bold real estate structures emblazoned with the marquee “Trump” name. Riding the crest of his father’s financial power, he was able to borrow millions of dollars. The result was he was successful in purchasing and building major New York City buildings and investing in nearby casinos and resorts…all the while making sure that the name Trump was well displayed.
Drawing on his father’s financial clout and his own emerging business aura, his negotiations with future properties were from a position of strength, and it was seldom that he was forced to deal with a financial adversary of equal stature. As owner and CEO of his own empire, he was not accustomed to resistance to his ideas and dealt accordingly with those who disagreed with him.
His intransigence to listening to sound advice began to backfire when many of his glitzier businesses, such as the casinos and resorts, began to experience business downturns due to fluctuations in the economy. Heavily leveraged financially with bank loans, many of the enterprises filed bankruptcies, but Trump escaped personal losses through creative financial wiggling. Those who suffered worst were the employees of the failing establishments, but Trump was willing to walk away from the debt or renegotiate the businesses’ mortgages.
On November 1, 1987, his book, “The Art of the Deal,” was published and remained number one on the New York Times book list for ten weeks. Ghost written by Tony Schwartz, it was part memoir, part auto-biography, and part business advice. Trump, though taking claim for the book, has never admitted what, if any, portion of the book he wrote. However, in later years Tony Schwartz wrote that the publication was the most embarrassing book he had ever been associated with and stated flatly that the book should be classified as fiction. But it did what Trump wanted; it reinforced to the public that he was a financial wizard.
His aura of acumen pushed him to express interest in the 2016 presidential campaign, and when the time came for him to announce his candidacy, he presented to the public the same braggadocio he used when involved in business dealings. Brash, rude, and crude, he plowed through the Republican presidential candidate debates like the proverbial bull in a china closet, but his brashness to some voters seemed to be a breath of fresh air compared to the otherwise conventional presidential candidates. He won the Republican Presidential nomination.
His presidential campaign against Hillary Clinton was the quintessential “slash and burn” approach. With little interest in the national issues of the day, Trump accused and insulted Clinton repeatedly with innuendos, half-truths, and rumors. Clinton, however, was so confident in her winning the presidency that she barely responded and in general just ignored Trumps barbs.
The night of November 8, 2016, was a shocker. The result of the popular vote was as predicted; Clinton won by over three million votes. However, by a quirk of electoral votes, Trump became the proclaimed winner and the next president of the United States. Clinton was floored that she actually lost, and Trump was amazed that he actually won…to the point that he was totally unprepared to begin creating a new administration, and the scramble began to find appropriate political appointees.
Inauguration Day, January 20, 2017, proved to be a prophetic day for the usual proceedings of the Trump Administration. Trump’s first brouhaha with the press was over the size of the inauguration crowd which was clearly smaller that the previous Obama inauguration crowd. Insults flew from the president and his press agent about the “hostility” of the press, and relations between Trump and the press would only go from bad to worse over the next four years.
Due to Trump’s intransigence to equal negotiations, his relations with Democrats never got off the ground. Unable to talk issues nor negotiate, Trump resorted to false accusations and insults to fully alienate the opposing party. The business acumen of which he was so proud, that of dealing from strength, he discovered did not work in a democratic assembly like Congress where all voices are heard, and votes are taken to decide actions to initiate. Unable to tolerate anyone who disagreed with him, his Executive Branch became a merry-go-round of individuals either jumping on board or being pushed off, and the result was a bumbling Executive Branch approach to any issue.
And yet, in spite of a bumbling, insulting president, the economy of the United States flourished. The economic rebound which began in 2015 during the Obama Administration continued into the Trump Era. Jobs were plentiful, businesses were flourishing, and the soap opera shenanigans of the Trump Administration were of little interest to the man on the street. And then came news from China…
As early as October 2019, news was coming from China concerning a strange virus which was spreading rapidly. The coronavirus labeled Covid-19 in three months’ time spread to most continents of the world, and scientists gave grave warnings concerning its potential impact on citizens’ health. In February 2020, Donald Trump, in a television interview, stated he was aware of the dangers of the virus and its seriousness, but he had made the decision to downplay it because he “didn’t want to panic the people.” It was a politically fatal mistake.
Due to his administration’s failure to face the virus and create contingency plans for prevention, the United States at the time of this writing has suffered over a half million deaths. Additionally, when it became evident that the U.S. economy was beginning to suffer, Trump’s administration created a Covid task force to create a strategy, only to see the task force's efforts thwarted by Trump himself who questioned its recommendations. Openly flaunting the task force's Covid guidelines and ridiculing the experienced doctors, Trump encouraged the man on the street to ignore any safety precautions.
By the time the 2020 Presidential election rolled around, the economy was in shambles, unemployment was sky-high, and our hospitals were on full emergency alert. Joe Biden ran on a “Beat Covid” platform, and Trump ran on a “What Covid?” platform. Election Day, 2020, was predictable. Joe Biden won by over eight million votes, gaining well over the minimum electoral votes for confirmation.
It is an interesting comparison to consider. On November 8, 2016, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote for the presidency by three million votes. However, realizing that she did not have the electoral votes to win, in less than 24 hours after the election she conceded and congratulated Donald Trump. On November 3, 2020, Joe Biden won by over eight million votes and additionally won the electoral count, but Trump refused to concede.
As Biden formed his government in the months leading up to Inauguration Day. Trump continued to claim fraud and refused to concede. Although his army of attorneys filed over fifty lawsuits in various states contesting the election, not a shred of evidence proving fraud was ever presented, and all were thrown out of court.
Trump continued to fan the flames of his loyal followers to the point that on January 6, 2021, the day the electoral votes were officially counted by the nation’s Congress, a mob encouraged by Donald Trump, descended upon the Capitol Building, overrunning the security guards and ransacked the building all the while calling for the capture and harm to several congressmen. Five people died and over 125 security guards were injured. The result was the second impeachment of President Donald J. Trump on the charge of inciting a rebellion against the Congress of the United States.
To watch the resulting trial in the Senate during the week of February 8-13 was frightening and saddening. The thirteen-minute montage of video taken during the mob siege was unbelievable, and the resultant testimonies were both damning and frightening. The verdict was clear, and the Senate voted 57-43 that Trump was guilty of sedition and promoting rebellion.
However, because conviction requires a two-thirds majority vote, Trump was not convicted. Once again Trump “won” with a minority of the votes in his favor. I was amazed when I read a loyal Trump follower's comment on Facebook, “Finally, truth has prevailed!” I agree with that; truth did prevail…in that anyone who watched the trial knows the evidence was overwhelmingly against Trump. However, what did not prevail was justice.
It is interesting to note that as of now, Trump has been involved in three major votes…two presidential elections and one trial. In NONE of the processes did Trump ever receive a majority of votes. He has never “won” an election. He has been successful in two (2016 and the trial) due only to technicalities. And even in the Senate, senators are now coming forward to announce they knew he was guilty but decided to vote to acquit to “get on down the road.” Due to senators who were reluctant to resist party pressure and judge the evidence at hand, once again Trump escaped justice. In addition, as a result of his presidency, the Republican Party lost the White House and its majority in both houses of Congress.
Only time will tell the extent of the political damages done by the presidency of Donald J. Trump to the Republican Party. A party which prided itself in promoting fiscal and social conservatism allowed a populist non-political eccentric to take control, and the party has paid a heavy price for that error.