We should be used to shock results in the political arena after the Brexit vote but there can be few people that are not shocked to their boots over the US election result. President Trump was just not a phrase on anyone’s lips.
The election of Donald J Trump as the 45th President of the United States is a sharp rejection of the status quo. The political elite have no one but themselves to blame for this as they have taken the public for a ride for far too long, with their cosy fireside deals that stitch up the man in the street, in a laser focussed attempt to retain their positions of wealth and power and ensure that this is passed down the line. Look at Bush 1 and 2 and the brazen attempt by the Clintons to keep it all in the family. The people have spoken and the people have had enough. When that happens, you get someone like Donald Trump ending up as the most powerful man in the world.
Trump was born and raised in New York City and received a bachelor’s degree in economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1968. In 1971 he was given control of his father Fred Trump’s real estate and construction firm and later renamed it The Trump Organisation, rising to public prominence shortly thereafter. Trump has appeared at the Miss USA pageants, which he owned from 1996 to 2015, and has made cameo appearances in films and television series.
He sought the Reform Party presidential nomination in 2000, but withdrew before voting began. He hosted and co-produced The Apprentice reality television series on NBC, from 2004 to 2015. As of 2016, he was listed by Forbes as the 324th wealthiest person in the world, and 156th in the United States.
Trump is of German ancestry on his father’s side and Scottish ancestry on his mother’s side; all four of his grandparents were born in Europe. His father Fred Trump (1905–1999) was born in Queens to parents from Kallstadt, Germany and became one of the biggest real estate developers in New York City. His mother, Mary Trump was born in Tong, Lewis, Scotland. Drumpf, the family’s ancestral name, evolved to Trump during the Thirty Years’ War in the 17th century. Trump has said that he is proud of his German heritage; he served as grand marshal of the 1999 German-American Steuben Parade in New York City.
An analysis of Trump’s business career by The Economist in 2016, concludes that his “… performance has been mediocre compared with the stock market and property in New York”, noting both his successes and bankruptcies. Any such analysis is difficult because, as the magazine observed, “Information about Mr Trump’s business is sketchy. He doesn’t run a publicly listed firm.” Trump’s early successes were partly commingled with those of his father so they omit them, claiming, “The best long-term starting point is 1985, when Mr Trump first appeared in the rankings without his father.” A subsequent analysis by The Washington Post, whose reporters were denied press credentials by the Trump presidential campaign, opined that “Trump is a mix of braggadocio, business failures, and real success.”
The Donald J. Trump Foundation is a U.S.-based private foundation established in 1988 for the initial purpose of giving away proceeds from the book Trump: The Art of the Deal by Trump and Tony Schwartz. The foundation’s funds mostly come from donors other than Trump, who has not given personally to the charity since 2008. The top donors to the foundation from 2004 to 2014 were Vince and Linda McMahon of World Wrestling Entertainment, who donated $5 million to the foundation after Trump appeared at WrestleMania in 2007.
The foundation’s tax returns show that it has given to healthcare and sports-related charities, as well as conservative groups. In 2009, for example, the foundation gave $926,750 to about 40 groups, with the biggest donations going to the Arnold Palmer Medical Center Foundation ($100,000), the New York Presbyterian Hospital ($125,000), the Police Athletic League ($156,000), and, ironically, the Clinton Foundation ($100,000).
Starting in 2016 The Washington Post began reporting on how the foundation raised and granted money. The Post uncovered several potential legal and ethical violations, such as alleged self-dealing and possible tax evasion. The New York State Attorney General is investigating the foundation “to make sure it is complying with the laws governing charities in New York.” A Trump spokesman called the investigation a “partisan hit job”. On October 3, 2016, the New York Attorney General’s office notified the Trump Foundation that it was allegedly in violation of New York laws regarding charities, and ordered it to immediately cease its fundraising activities in New York.
In 2016, Forbes estimated Trump’s net worth at $3.7 billion, and Bloomberg $3 billion. These estimates would make him one of the richest politicians in American history. He has often given much higher estimates, sometimes over $10 billion, with the discrepancy due in part to the uncertainty of appraised property values, as well as his own assessment of the value of his personal brand.
On June 16, 2015, just prior to announcing his candidacy for president of the United States, Trump released a one-page financial statement “from a big accounting firm—one of the most respected” stating a net worth of $8,737,540,000. “I’m really rich”, Trump said. Forbes believed his claim of $9 billion was “a whopper,” figuring it was actually $4.1 billion. In June 2015, Business Insider published Trump’s June 2014 financial statement, noting that $3.3 billion of that total is represented by “Real Estate Licensing Deals, Brand and Branded Developments”, described by Business Insider as “basically [implying] that Trump values his character at $3.3 billion.” In July 2015, federal election regulators released new details of Trump’s self-reported wealth and financial holdings when he became a Republican presidential candidate, reporting that his assets are worth above $1.4 billion, which includes at least $70 million in stocks, and a debt of at least $265 million. According to Bloomberg, for the purposes of Trump’s FEC filings Trump “only reported revenue for his golf properties in his campaign filings even though the disclosure form asks for income”, noting independent filings showing all three of his major European golf properties were unprofitable.
The value of the Trump brand may have fallen due to his presidential campaign. Some consumers say they are avoiding purchasing Trump-branded products and services as a protest against Trump and his campaign. Bookings and foot traffic at Trump-branded hotels and casinos fell off sharply in 2016, primarily driven by a decrease in visits to the properties by women. Following the release of the Access Hollywood tape recordings in October 2016, the value of the Trump brand was reported to have taken a further hit, with estimates of the reduction in the brand’s added value of up to 13 percentage points.
Trump floated the idea of running for president in 1988, 2004, and 2012, and for Governor of New York in 2006 and 2014, but did not enter those races. He was considered as a potential running mate for George H. W. Bush on the Republican Party’s 1988 presidential ticket but lost out to future Vice President Dan Quayle. There is dispute over whether Trump or the Bush camp made the initial pitch.
In 1999, Trump filed an exploratory committee to seek the presidential nomination of the Reform Party in 2000. A July 1999 poll matching him against likely Republican nominee George W. Bush and likely Democratic nominee Al Gore showed Trump with seven percent support. Trump eventually dropped out of the race due to party infighting, but still won the party’s California and Michigan primaries after doing so.
Trump’s run for president has received an unprecedented amount of free media attention. Many of the statements Trump has made during his presidential campaign have been controversial. Others have been described by Politico as “mischaracterisations, exaggerations, or simply false”. Fact checking organisations such as PolitiFact.com and FactCheck.org have singled him out as having made a record number of false statements during his campaign compared to other candidates, based on the statements they have analysed. At least four major publications – Politico, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times – described Trump statements as lies, whoppers, or falsehoods. According to journalists James Oliphant and Emily Flitter, Trump’s penchant for exaggerating to voters has roots in the world of New York real estate where he made his fortune, and where hyperbole is a way of life; Trump refers to this as “truthful hyperbole”.
Lucas Graves, a professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Journalism & Mass Communication, says that Trump often speaks in a suggestive way that makes it unclear what exactly he meant, and Graves adds that fact-checkers “have to be really careful when you pick claims to check to pick things that can be factually investigated and that reflect what the speaker was clearly trying to communicate.”
Trump has stated that the media has intentionally misinterpreted his words. The New York Times reported in August 2016 that journalistic standards normally prevent mainstream, non-opinion journalists from becoming oppositional against a particular candidate, but says that the Trump campaign is not normal.
So here we have a man proven to be a stranger to the truth who says what you want to hear at the time you want to hear it. Not only the first ever President never to have held any form of public office but also not supported by the very Republican Party on who’s ticket he ran. And what of his campaign promises.
• To build a wall between the US and Mexico
• To ban Muslims from entering the United States
• To reignite the coal industry
• To bring back the production of American steel
• To reduce the corporation tax rate to 15%
• To abolish estate tax
• To abolish the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
• To abolish Obama Care
• To treat global warming as a hoax
• To withdraw support for NATO
• To reverse the reestablishment of diplomatic ties with Cuba
• To dismantle the nuclear arms agreement with Iran
• To support torture of terrorists
• To recognise Crimea as Russian territory and lifting sanctions on Russia
• To deport 11 million illegal immigrants
• To jail Hillary Clinton
He will find that most of these intentions will come to nothing as the headline grabbing statements are not grounded in any form of reality. But if he doesn’t fulfil his campaign promises, he might well find a mob of angry rednecks with flaming torches at the gates to the White House.
In a conciliatory speech Mr Trump added: “We will get along with all other nations willing to get along with us. We will deal fairly with everyone. We will seek common ground, partnership not conflict. America will no longer settle for anything less than the best. We must reclaim our destiny.”
On A Positive Note…
Ignoring the hyperbole and rhetoric, we have a very successful businessman running the USA. Misogynist, casual racist and, probably, slightly unhinged but how long have we all been thinking that politics needs a dose of real world reality? How long have we all been thinking that if only a successful and highly competent CEO could get hold of the country, things would be different?
Up until now, that has been an impossibility as it has never been possible to run for the top job unless you had previously run for elected office and what CEO in their right mind would be prepared to expose themselves to the viscous media scrutiny of the political circus.
There is a scintilla of a chance that he might actually do something good. Might he strengthen Americas trade balance; might he get a grip on illegal immigration; might he reawaken middle America and get the rust belt factories back to work; might he curb the Chinese industrial march; might he actually take on ISIS and defeat them once and for all.
Probably not but there is a chance he will accidently trip over a good idea and then, with no fear of the liberal elite and a pair of cojones the size of Manhattan, he might actually make something better. And then Farage popped up – God help us all.
Political expediency will always trump the truth and how positions change when it comes to that most divisive of figures – from joker to the most powerful man in the world.
BEFORE: “I think we all agree that the comments Donald Trump made in relation to Muslims were divisive, unhelpful and wrong. I just think it shows he does not understand the UK and what happens in the UK.”
AFTER: “We have a long history of shared values and I look forward to that continuing in the future.”
BEFORE: “I think his remarks are divisive, stupid and wrong. If he came to visit our country I think he would unite us all against him.”
AFTER: “I am clear that we will work with whoever is president of the United States,”
BEFORE: “That is really misogyny at its worst and I think we have all got to stand up against that. I hope Donald Trump doesn’t become president of the United States and I expect the people of the United States will have the good sense not to elect him.”
AFTER: “I will engage positively and constructively with the American administration”
BEFORE: “Most American presidents don’t send you ‘green ink’ letters, often capital letters. Usually couriered overnight with press articles attached to them, ‘READ THIS!’ Underlined, three times. If I’ve got any small role in this matter, it’s to say to Scots Americans: under no circumstances make this man President of the United States of America.”
AFTER: “The President Elect’s policy on the Cold War with Russia has potential to make things better”.
BEFORE: “Donald Trump’s ill-informed comments are complete and utter nonsense. I would welcome the opportunity to show Mr Trump first-hand some of the excellent work our police officers do every day in local neighbourhoods throughout our city. Crime has been falling steadily in both London and New York – and the only reason I wouldn’t go to some parts of New York is the real risk of meeting Donald Trump.”
AFTER: “People should focus on the opportunities… and not the problems. We should snap out of the doom and gloom surrounding his election.”
BEFORE: “I decided to invite Donald Trump on his visit to Britain to come with me to my constituency because he has problems with Mexicans and he has problems with Muslims. As you know, my wife is Mexican and my constituency is very, very multicultural, so what I was going to do was go down to the mosque with him and let him talk to people there.”
AFTER: “Trumps election is an unmistakable rejection of a political establishment and an economic system that simply isn’t working for most people”.
BEFORE: “I think it’s important for those of us who are foreigners to stay out of the US elections. I hope the best candidate wins and I hope she does win with a stomping majority. I think to suggest that somehow Muslims aren’t welcome in the USA, to suggest somehow that being a Muslim is incompatible with being western, unintentionally plays into the hand of Daesh and so-called Isis.”
AFTER: “I think it’s important that the USA maintains her role as a beacon for tolerance, respect and diversity.”
PROF ALAN WINTERS, UNIVERSITY OF SUSSEX, 2016: “The turbulence to global trade caused by putting an out-and-out mercantilist in the White House may force the UK to hit pause on Brexit.”
MARGARITA SIMONYAN, THE EDITOR OF THE RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT’S ENGLISH LANGUAGE RT TELEVISION CHANNEL, 2016: “Today I want to take a ride around Moscow with the American flag in the car window. If I can find a flag. Join me. Today they deserve it.”
STEFAN LOFVEN, SWEDISH PRESIDENT, 2016: “I would have preferred Hillary Clinton to win, for a number of reasons. But it is also the case that Sweden will strive to have good relations with the US, no matter who becomes president. We’re living in new times and populism is spreading. I’m saddened and very worried. There’s a big knot in my stomach right now. That they managed to throw up to such useless candidates scares me a bit – Who would have thought?”
HASSAN ROUHANI, THE PRESIDENT OF IRAN, 2016: ”Iran’s understanding in the nuclear deal was that the accord was not concluded with one country or government but was approved by a resolution of the UN Security Council and there is no possibility that it can be changed by a single government.”
VLADIMIR PUTIN, 2016: “You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know there will be a degree of satisfaction in Moscow this morning. I express my hope for joint work to restore Russian- American relations from their state of crisis, and also to address pressing international issues and search for effective responses to challenges concerning global security,”
SÉGOLÈNE ROYAL, FRANCE’S ENVIRONMENT MINISTER, 2016: ”Trump cannot, contrary to what he has said, denounce the Paris accord”.
URSULA VON DER LEYEN, GERMAN DEFENCE MINISTER, 2016: ”This is a big shock and raises questions over the future of NATO. The world won’t end, but it will get crazier”.
NORBERT ROETTGEN, HEAD OF THE GERMAN PARLIAMENT’S FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE, 2016: “We’re realising now that we have no idea what this American president will do if the voice of anger enters office and the voice of anger becomes the most powerful man in the world.”
POPE FRANCIS, 2016: “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian.”