Edward H. Telfeyan, July 15, 2020
Last month I predicted that Donald Trump will win re-election to a second term as the nation’s president. Since then, the polls have gotten worse for the president, with some even showing him trailing Joe Biden in Texas. While many are thinking a “Blue-nami” might sweep the Democrats into control of both houses of Congress as well as the presidency, a lot can happen in the one hundred days before the nation starts to vote.
So, I’m sticking with my prediction for now. Just as a refresher, here are the ten reasons I listed for my prognostication:
- He’ll use his base.
- He’ll emphasize his policies
- He’ll trash his opponent
- He’ll lie
- He’ll cheat
- He’ll suppress the vote
- He’ll play the economy
- He’ll demonize scapegoats for the pandemic
- He’ll leverage the protests
- He’ll rely on the Electoral College
So, okay, maybe some of those reasons aren’t looking particularly helpful for him right now. But I didn’t even mention foreign interference or the ability of the Attorney General to muddy the waters (e.g., suddenly announcing some bogus investigation of Biden) or the possibility of a sudden miracle Covid cure. Trump trailed Hillary Clinton right up until election day in 2016 and yet he still managed to squeak out a narrow EC win. She was far from a perfect candidate, but few think Biden will be either.
Anyway, whether my prediction is correct (and I fervently hope it isn’t), I will now present a half-dozen reasons why Trump should lose (should be defeated) in November.
- He’s incompetent. No president can govern effectively if he (and someday she) doesn’t understand how the government works. Trump is beyond lacking any understanding of the vagaries of the federal government (I don’t think he even knows the departments that constitute his cabinet); he also lacks the desire/interest/curiosity to learn.
How often have you heard Trump say something like “no one knew …”? What he is really saying is that he didn’t know. He said it early on in his presidency regarding health care (“No one knew health care was so complicated”), and he’s made similar comments on a variety of well-known topics since. Most recently he has been saying that few people know that Abraham Lincoln was a Republican. In “A Very Stable Genius,” authors Philip Rucker and Carol Leonig report that he once asked an aide to explain why Pearl Harbor was such a big deal.
Ignorance breeds incompetence. Believing you are not ignorant when you absolutely are guarantees incompetence.
- He’s divisive. Trump may be the first president (certainly the first elected with less than a majority of the popular vote) to show no interest in uniting the country. Richard Nixon pledged to “bring us together” after his narrow victory in 1968. Bill Clinton and George W. Bush said (and did) much the same at critical points in their presidencies. Barack Obama tried to do the same when he was elected and throughout his presidency.
To avoid being divisive, all of these men sought to sound like centrists, or at least to eschew the more extreme positions of their more radical supporters. Trump has never played to any segment of the country outside of his base. Most especially on race relations and immigration, but also on foreign policy, tax policy, gun control, climate change, and health care, Trump mouths policies that anywhere from 50 to 85 percent of the country opposes.
Trump knows his base. He knows what they like to hear. He knows what policies they will support. He doesn’t care that most of the country would prefer conciliation over confrontation, that most Americans want to get along with each other and with those from other lands, that empathy is actually attractive, and that angry tweets are a turn-off (even to some of his base). He can’t be other than who he is. Sadly, he’s a small, shallow, vain, vindictive man, and being divisive is how he manifests those qualities.
- He’s a threat to the Constitution. Throughout his presidency, Trump has either been unaware of his constitutional oath or has ignored it. Actually, a strong case can be made that he wants to rewrite that oath entirely so that it represents the autocratic prerogatives that he (and his AG, Bill Barr) seems to want the presidency to be.
Instead of putting the rule of law and the restrictions on presidential authority foremost in his decisions, Trump seeks to take care of … himself. He has used the presidency much as he has reportedly used his businesses: to feather/protect his own nest. Thus, he has tried to bribe/extort a foreign government into investigating a political opponent (Ukraine/Biden), has sought to keep a convicted former national security advisor out of prison (Michael Flynn), and has used his ability to pardon/commute to keep a political supporter (and co-conspirator) from going to prison (Roger Stone).
Trump admires autocrats (Putin, Erdogan, Duterte, even North Korea’s Kim) for their ability to rule without meaningful checks and balances. His attacks on fellow politicians, the media, and peaceful protesters are the acts that autocrats engage in regularly. They are also the acts of rulers of banana republics, where the rule of law is whimsical at best. It isn’t hard to imagine America looking a lot like one of those countries if Trump wins a second term.
- He’s corrupt. Richard Nixon declared defiantly at one point in the Watergate Investigation that he wasn’t a crook. Subsequent events revealed that he most definitely was, at least to the extent of working to cover-up the crime if not orchestrate it. But Trump makes Nixon look like a saint. Nixon didn’t seek to increase his personal wealth; he just wanted to get re-elected. Trump, on the other hand, treats the presidency like one of his businesses. He lies, cheats and steals and then relies on his cronies in the Senate to acquit him (or just look the other way).
Trump is a crook in the manner of a mafia boss (without the killings, hopefully). Over the course of his three-and-a-half years in office, he has rid himself of any staff person who is not totally obedient and obsequious to his needs and demands. He is now surrounded by sycophants who say what he tells them to say and who, as they are jumping to his demands, only ask “how high?”
The country has had corrupt leaders before. But they mostly allowed the corruption by those around them. Trump is a mob boss. He rules by his needs of the day, and woe be to the staff person who misperceives his command.
- He’s an embarrassment. Not much needs to be said on this point. We’ve had other presidents who claimed to be “big picture” focused (Reagan) or who eschewed heavy reading (the second Bush) or who were micromanagers to a fault (Carter) or who never passed up a good round of golf (Eisenhower) or who couldn’t keep their zippers up (Clinton). But we’ve never had a president who just spouted nonsense without the least sense of uncertainty or humility.
According to his niece (in her just-released, tell-all book, “Too Much and Never Enough”), Trump has never bothered to actually learn anything. Mary Trump is not alone in her description of Trump’s vacuous brain. And the evidence is ever-mounting as he continually incorporates wild conspiracy ideas (Obamagate being the most recent of a long list) into his tweets, public utterances, and stump speeches. He doesn’t seek to know anything that he doesn’t want to know, and he clearly doesn’t want to know very much.
Trump embarrassed his country by refusing to shake Angela Merkel’s hand at their first public meeting. He embarrassed his country in his meetings with Kim Jong-un (first threatening to annihilate his country, then claiming the two leaders “loved” each other). Domestically, he’s an embarrassment whenever he tries to show his “expertise” in something he knows nothing about. His many ignorant statements about Covid-19 alone provide a plethora of examples.
- His country is fed up with him. His fans may still love him (or at least they sound like they do at his now infrequent rallies), but most of the country has had enough of his Twitter rants and his empty-headed proclamations.
One-term presidents are rare. When incumbents have lost in the past, they usually have had outside events to blame (the Iran hostages in ’80 for Carter, the recession after a tax increase in ’92 for the first Bush). Trump would be able to blame the pandemic for his defeat this year, if he does, in fact, lose. But the end for Trump, whenever it comes, will be caused, primarily, by his inability to be an appealing human being.
Fundamentally, Americans like to feel good about their leaders. Fewer and fewer are feeling good about this one, and for that reason, above any others, Donald Trump should get fired this November.