In The End, It’s A Referendum on Trump. Vote Accordingly

By

Leonard Zwelling

         Any time an incumbent president seeks a second term, the main issue of that campaign is the quality of the job the incumbent has done. This is as it should be. It gives the people their chance to weigh in on whether or not the current occupant of the Oval Office should get another four years.

         The current arguments that I have heard supporting Mr. Trump getting that second term are that he promoted a great economy until the coronavirus took it down, has furthered the cause of Israel, has deregulated many industries in the U.S. leading to the economic growth, and has been tough on China. Of course, there are also his picks for the Supreme Court and his appointments of lesser conservative justices. The latter has endeared Mr. Trump to the Evangelical Christians and the traditional social right-wingers who are anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage and thought there were good people on both sides in Charlottesville.

         Let’s compare and contrast.

         On the economy, there can be no argument that Mr. Trump’s presidency furthered the stock market and the economic status of those in the top 10% and really did so in a big way for those in the top 1%. Though, as Chuck Todd pointed out on Meet the Press on Sunday August 23, much of the economic improvement started during Obama’s second term and continued with Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump did not originate the growth, but he did enhance it during his time in office up to the coming of the virus.

I am less clear on the benefits derived by the middle class and poor under Mr. Trump and amused by the fact that male whites in that middle class continue to back him despite the fact that their buying power has decreased with the greater and greater size of the national debt under all past presidents since Clinton including Mr. Trump. If you think the stock market is the economy, then Trump was great for it. If you think that unemployment being low is a good thing, then Trump ought to get credit. But the true financial health of the United States was not better under Mr. Trump if you were in the bottom 90%. His rising tide did not lift all boats any more than Mr. Obama’s did.

         Mr. Trump’s support for Israel has been a combination of pandering to the Jewish and Evangelical votes and a complete lack of understanding of the history of that part of the world. Clue: it didn’t start in 1967 and Bibi Netanyahu is not Israel’s George Washington. While the short-term benefits of the Trump positions on Jerusalem and the Golan Heights must have pleased Mr. Netanyahu, it is the bilateral agreement with the UAE and Israel that really is a breakthrough for Trump. He gets credit there, but much of what the UAE agreement put on paper was already taking place.

         Deregulation always cuts both ways. Sure business is happier as deregulation decreases the cost of doing business. But that does not help the environment and both business and the ecology need to learn to co-exist. This is a non-issue to Mr. Trump. He’s pro-business (no surprise) and could care less about the need for environmental rules that would save the planet. Trump doesn’t believe in climate change. Heck, he pulled out of the Paris Accords, a truly stupid move.

         I do like Mr. Trump’s tough stance on China. It’s about time the United States called the Chinese Communist Party what it is, the strong arm of a totalitarian state. They lie, they cheat, they steal. Finally, an American president takes the right stand. Again, he gets credit from me even as he pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Trade Agreement that would have hemmed the Chinese in a bit more.

         The judges are what comes with the territory of the winner. Had Hillary won, those judges would be liberals. But she didn’t.

         So that’s how I see it. Trump has done some reasonable things, but he lies, he cheats and for all we know he steals, but we have never seen his tax returns. He’s not empathetic, an important quality in a president. He kowtows to Putin and other dictators. He has lowered the American standing in the world and he has turned us into the laughing stock of the world with his leadership through the coronavirus crisis.

         Just so my conservative friends get it, it’s not like everything Trump did was bad. But more of it was than it wasn’t. Too many of his colleagues wound up in jail or should be there. He probably paid hush money to porn stars for their silence. He’s a terrible example for our children and he’s a racist on top of all of it.

         This election is a referendum on Trump. Any fair assessment of his presidency and the divisiveness he has sown in the country has to conclude that he should not be re-elected.

         You think it’s more complicated than that? It’s not. Has he been all bad? No. Could we do better? Easily. Is Biden better? Stay tuned. Too soon to say.

Leonard Zwelling