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Old September 22, 2020, 05:35 AM
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ToBeFair ToBeFair is offline
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Meaning of this Trump face: I am DUMB but the establishment is DUMBER, that is why I owned them and became President.

Does Donald Trump fall in the category of all time great?

I think we have to look into three different areas:

A. Him winning the presidency
B. His governing/legislative achievement
C. His contribution to the Republican party

A. Him winning the presidency
It can be genuinely argued that Trump deserves to be called GOAT because of him winning the presidency alone. Yes, the environment was ripe for an outsider anti-establishment candidate, and Trump also bumped into the right strategy, but still, it will be an over simplification if his achievement is dismissed simply as an accident of history, or the inevitable backlash of history, as Obama does it, because the first black president ascended to power when America was not 100% ready for its first black POTUS. Institutional racism exists and racism was probably a factor to Trump’s victory, but racism is NOT the explanation of Trump phenomenon, because the same country had elected Obama TWICE, not once. To be fair, only the smug liberal elites prefer this over simplified explanation of Trump phenomenon because they don’t want to look into the mirror and take any responsibility for the failure of their neoliberal policies.

Politics usually runs like a mafia gang, and unless you are a proven member of the gang, it is very difficult to break into politics and run, let alone win. You need the institutional support simply to run, which Trump did not have like Bush and Rubio had for example at the initial stage of primary. Aside from the lack of institutional support, the whole establishment was against him. Hillary had the support of media establishment, the deep state, Wall Street, and the military industrial complex. The Empire was never going to allow a mild social democrat like Bernie to be its manager, but the Empire also did not want an unpredictable and uncontrollable uncouth character like Trump, who threatened to unmask its true nature. Trump defied this challenge by being an unconventional candidate: a stand-up comedian who did not follow usual consultant driven kabuki theatre script. He sprinkled racism on his populism – and the base resonated. He developed a cultish following and he used it to his advantage. Unlike Bernie, Trump did not capitulate – he did not fall for the phony UNITY and CIVILITY rules. He threatened to withhold his endorsement for the eventual Republican nominee if he was treated unfairly or outright cheated. This was the first correct move. Second, he fought back against the media by calling them who they are: FAKE NEWS. Current US media do not do news but do propaganda infotainment, and people know it.

Overall, Trump ran a brilliant campaign and triumphed over all the institutional barriers to win the White House as an outsider. If you still believe that it was all luck (and there is no such thing as luck because everything is preordained ), answer me: Have you ever run for a college student organization or any office for that matter? How many votes did you get? Winning votes from people is a very tough task. And here a political neophyte won millions of votes and won the most powerful office on earth without any prior experience of running for office. Therefore, this achievement certainly deserves to be considered for the title of GOAT.

B. His governing/legislative achievement
Let’s make a list of what Trump claims to be his accomplishments:

Cancelled TPP
Tax cut
Renegotiated NAFTA
Deregulation
Greatest EVER economy (before COVID hacked it)
Appointment of record number of judges
Moving Israeli embassy to Jerusalem
First Step Act
Peace talk with Kim Jong Un
Peace treaties between Israel, Bahrain, and UAE
Peace talks with Taliban
Did not start a new war but continued the drone program
Millions and millions and millions of jobs

As a nominally populist president, Trump does not have a signature policy achievement that will go down with his name. His best achievements in my book are: NO TPP, no new war, and the First Step Act. Therefore, his governing/legislative success is pretty bleak. Politics is ‘one thing at a time’ business. You can focus on multiple issues but you must remain focused on one or two signature issues (another reason why Bernie lost in 2020 – he probably should have had a three point plan and should have hammered it instead of having policy solutions for everything, which were good, but not winning politics). When you think of great presidents, one or two signature policies come to mind:

FDR – new deal, social security
LBJ – great society, civil rights/voting rights act
Lincoln – ending slavery, win civil war
Eisenhower – interstate highways

If a positive signature policy is not associated with your name, you are probably not a great president. This is a reason why Obama is NOT a great president. Milquetoast technocratic corporatist solution like Obamacare or tax cut do not make you a great president.

As a nominally populist president, Trump at least needed to do an infrastructure bill. American infrastructure is in serious bad shape – I do not see any image of American roads and highways except they look white with full of cracks. He should have forced Congress for an infrastructure bill, even if such a bill would be designed to primarily give the responsibility of rebuilding to corporations. Trump had the leverage but he missed his opportunity.

COVID gave Trump another opportunity but he botched his response here too. All Trump needed was decisiveness instead of being all over the place. He should have presented two clear choices before America and Congress:

1. Wear mask, maintain social distancing, keep everything open and follow the Swedish model
2. Do selective lockdown, perform testing and tracing, and give UBI for the duration of pandemic

Lockdown was not an option because morally you cannot take away peoples’ livelihood unless you compensate them. Had Trump presented the two choices above, whatever happened, the blame would be on Congress.

Instead he foolishly oscillated between hoax and Kung flu, and started an unnecessary culture war about mask to appear alpha, and the Democrats ran away with the COVID narrative. Now he will probably lose the reelection because of his poor handling and indecisiveness.

His contribution to the Republican Party
Many observers say Trump has destroyed the Republican Party. I disagree. He knowingly or unknowingly gave a dying party a much needed shake.

Romney-McCain type neo-conservative tax cut/deregulation market fundamental fiscal hawks with zero charisma will have hard time beating identity thumping ‘fake’ woke democrats because of shift in demographics. Democrats are now the party of upper middle class (401k). They abandoned the poor and the working class in 1992, and the project is now complete. Whether they win or lose in 2020, their strategy is to become a corporatist party, with an electorate primarily of upper middle class liberals -the quintessential white moderates (as described by MLK) who drink the koolaid of identity politics 24/7 to appear not racist at a surface level. Therefore, Republicans had to do something differently to win. Trump gave them the potent formula:

- Appear anti-war: general public never liked war since Vietnam
- Economic protectionism: some form of economic message/solution is required to get the disaffected lower and lower middle class
- Immigration hardline: Since the party is not willing to honestly solve the economic problem, you must demonize the other. Be against immigrants while simultaneously dog whistle about white supremacy, God, gun, abortion, and family values.

Trump also shrewdly pandered to the blacks and Hispanics from the first day of his presidency because he knew he needed them to expand his base. If Republicans cannot expand the electorate, they certainly have a bleak future in politics, and almost no future in presidential politics. The electoral map gives a GIANT advantage to Democrats from the get go.

Verdict
In conclusion, my verdict is TRUMP is not a GOAT judging his legislative and governing record. But his rise to presidency rewrote the conventional rules of politics and campaigning, and also initiated party realignment ideologically. So Trump can certainly be called a GOAT because of Trump phenomenon.

Whether you accept him as a GOAT or not, Trump lived his whole life under a glass ceiling without giving a s**t, and for a public persona of such impunity, he probably deserved the ultimate trophy of public life: the Presidency of the United States and the megaphone that comes with it. And he achieved it.
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