Charles Laffiteau’s Bigger Picture
2019-07-01 14:58:41 -
Politics
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Even though he filed the paperwork just five hours after his inauguration, US President Donald Trump held a big rally in Orlando, Florida last month to celebrate the ‘official’ launch of his re-election campaign.

 

The Orlando event was actually no different than the dozens of other rallies Trump has held in Republican ‘red’ states over the last two years. But as the first ‘official’ event of his 2020 campaign, the central Florida gathering was significant because it was also a preview of the central themes of his platform: immigration and trade wars. In other words, Trump will continue to blame America’s problems on illegal immigrants and the unfair trade practices of other countries.

 

Instead of attempting to broaden his base of support, President Trump is banking on winning with a replay of his 2016 campaign script, of whipping up support within his base of older white voters by attacking the ‘fake news’ media and the political establishment. Like Trump himself, his Tea Party Republican supporters don’t want to acknowledge the part they have played fostering their own problems or our nation’s ills. They instead prefer to lie to themselves, point their fingers and blame ‘them’ instead of looking in the mirror.

 

Over the next 18 months we can expect a continuation of the groundless accusations, exaggerations, resentments and outright lies that Trump has been spewing on a daily basis since he announced he was running for president on 16 June 2015. This also shouldn’t come as a surprise, since Trump has been exaggerating his business acumen and intelligence, overstating his wealth, cheating his investors and lying to the public his entire life. So why would President Trump treat his gullible, less-educated base of older white voters any differently?

 

But no matter how hard Trump and his base wish for a repeat of his surprising 2016 electoral success, there is one very important difference between then and now. In 2016, candidate Trump had no record of previous political success or failure, but in 2020 he will have a political record to either run on or, in some cases, away from.

 

When asked about separating irregular migrants from their children at the southern border, Trump told Telemundo: “When I became president, President Obama had a separation policy. I didn’t have it. He had it. I brought the families together. I’m the one that brought ‘em together.” But this is another outright lie. President Obama never had a policy to separate children from their families. In fact, the only reason these children were ever separated from their parents was due to President Trump’s ‘zero tolerance’ policy, a policy Trump only rescinded after an unprecedented public outcry against it.

 

As for the infamous ‘wall’ President Trump claimed he was going to build and make Mexico pay for, Trump told the crowd in Orlando: “We’re going to have over 400 miles of wall built by the end of next year. It’s moving very rapidly.” This is another one of Trump’s epic exaggerations. For starters, Trump has yet to win any of the legal challenges to his ‘national emergency’. Furthermore, over the past two-and-a-half years the government has only awarded contracts to build 17 miles of new walls. The other contracts were awarded to replace 230 miles of pre-existing walls.

 

On the topic of his trade war with China, Trump told Orlando: “We are taking in billions and billions of dollars into our treasury. We have never taken 10 cents from China.” This claim is a combination of a lie and a gross exaggeration. We have actually been collecting tariffs on Chinese imports for many years, and while the government is now collecting $2bn a month more in tariffs on Chinese imports, China is not paying the tariffs. Rather, the tariffs are paid by US importers and retailers who sell Chinese imports, and the US consumers who buy them.

 

Trump also likes to take credit for doing things that actually happened under President Obama. For example, Trump told the Orlando rally: “We’ve ended the last administration’s cruel and heartless war on American energy. What they were doing to our energy should never be forgotten. The United States is now the number one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world.” In fact, the US overtook Russia and became the world’s top natural gas producer in 2009, and surpassed Saudi Arabia as the world’s top producer of oil in 2013.

 

Trump likes to tout himself as a veteran’s best friend, claiming: “We passed VA Choice. They’ve been trying to get that passed also for about 44 years.” But President Obama actually passed and signed that bill into law in 2014. Likewise, Trump wants to take all of the credit for the relatively strong American economy. He told his audience: “It’s soaring to incredible new heights. Perhaps the greatest economy we’ve had in the history of our country.” But 2018’s 2.9 per cent GDP growth rate was exactly the same as its rise in 2015 under President Obama.

 

So, if Trump’s using the same 2016 playbook in 2020, what will the Democrats be using?

 

Charles Laffiteau is a US Republican from Dallas, Texas pursuing a career in public service. He previously lectured on Contemporary US Business & Society at DCU from 2009-2011 and pursued a PhD in Public Policy and Political Economy.

TAGS : politics US Trump
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