Full of sound and fury
“I would like to congratulate you on your historic victory in the midterm elections in the United States.” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to President Donald Trump, Nov. 30, 2018
As we close out 2018, it’s instructive to review this year regarding President Trump. The statement by the Japanese prime minister reveals how flawed the Trump administration is. Truth is rejected; lies that bolster Trump’s ego are how foreign leaders get their way.
Trump’s administration fits Shakespeare’s description in Macbeth, Act 5, Scene 5: “It is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.” Trump boasts about his great accomplishments, but do his boasts stack up to reality?
Let’s start by recapping the 2016 election. In 2016, nominee Hillary Clinton received almost 3 million more votes than nominee Donald Trump. Voters wanted Hillary, but thanks to the Electoral College, we got Trump.
If Trump had then worked to be the president of all of us, he might have overcome that handicap. Instead, he decided to play strictly to his base. In the 2018 election, voters let him know again how they felt. Nationwide, Democrats received almost 9 million more votes for House seats than Republicans received, a good measure of national sentiment. Democrats picked up 40 seats in the House of Representatives, a huge sweep.
There were 36 gubernatorial elections in 2018. Prior to the election, there were 16 Democratic governors, 33 Republicans, and one independent. After the election, there were 23 Democratic governors and 27 Republicans. Again, voters made it clear who they want running the federal and state governments. Not exactly a “historic victory” for Trump.
Even presidential endorsements told a story. Trump endorsed 75 candidates; 28 percent won. President Barack Obama endorsed 74 candidates; 52.7 percent won. Trump lost bigly.
Trump claims to be the best dealmaker ever, but most of his deals consist of giving something away while getting nothing in return. A prime example is the nuclear deal with North Korea. Kim Jong Un said he might, someday, consider reducing North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. In return, Trump canceled the joint military exercises America holds with South Korea, exercises which help keep North Korea in check.
What happened? North Korea continues to build weapons and missiles, while Kim sends love letters to Trump. “He wrote me beautiful letters. They were great letters. And then we fell in love.” Not a great deal for America, but stroke that ego and Trump is yours.
Trump also said this about the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the reworked NAFTA: “The USMCA is the largest, most significant, modern and balanced trade agreement in history.” (11/30/18)
In reality, the USMCA is NAFTA with a few tweaks. A few more cars will be produced in North America, wages will be more protected, and American dairy farmers can sell more milk to Canada. It may be an improvement but it’s not ground-breaking or historically large.
Another terrible “deal” Trump has made is his tariff and trade war with China and other countries. Rather than helping American businesses, the trade deficit hit a 10-year high of $55.5 billion in October. (MarketWatch, 12/6/18). Trump strikes again.
Tariffs have also caused an increase in farm bankruptcies. “A total of 84 farms in the upper Midwest filed for bankruptcy between July 2017 and June 2018.” (Vox, 11/27/18) This is more than double the number of bankruptcies in 2013-2014.
Why the increase? Farmers can’t sell their corn, soybeans and other products because of Trump’s trade war. Trump implemented a $12 billion welfare package for farmers (paid for by us), but that money won’t bring back markets lost due to Trump’s bumbling.
Trump has not totally destroyed Obama’s accomplishments on jobs, yet, but international relations, trade and the stock market (worst December since the Great Depression) have worsened considerably. Even Trump’s much vaunted tax cut was smaller than both of Obama’s tax cuts.
Trump has never had to be truthful about what he does because he’s never been accountable to anyone except his father and himself. He’s never had stockholders or a board of directors. He’s been the dictator of his own little domain, and the spineless Republican Congress has allowed him to continue that way.
On Jan. 3, Trump will become accountable to a Democratic House of Representatives. When that happens, I expect to see, as Trump once said, “…fury … the likes of which this world has never seen before.” We just have to pray that as Trump explodes, America survives. Happy New Year!
Jeanette Strong, whose column appears every other week, is a Nevada Press Association award-winning columnist. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.