President Donald Trump this week officially asked America to give him a second term, right on the heels of delivering multiple, jarring reminders of why America shouldn't. The fact that Trump's campaign kickoff rally on Tuesday in Orlando, Fla., relied heavily on the same talking points, promises and false assertions he made in 2016 underscores what little he has actually done in his first term to move the country forward.
Blatantly lying to the nation, escalating attacks against the free press, constantly pushing at constitutional boundaries and threatening Gestapo-like roundup tactics against immigrants for the sake of whipping up the base aren't the actions of someone who deserves to lead America for one more day, let alone four more years.
Trump's many demonstrations of unfitness for office over the past 30 months are too numerous to recount here. So it's helpful that he provided such a representative sample of his unfitness for office in the few days leading up to Tuesday's reelection kickoff rally in Orlando.
The first was a reminder of how petty and insecure the putative leader of the free world can be. After a leak last week revealed that Trump's internal polling showed him trailing former Vice President Joe Biden in 11 battleground states, several pollsters were fired. "We are winning in every single state that we've polled," Trump pushed back during a television interview — only to have his own campaign manager subsequently confirm the losing numbers to journalists. Once, a president getting caught in such a pathetic lie would have shocked the nation. Under Trump, it was just another Friday.
Trump's dangerous disdain for the free press has long been obvious, but he crossed a dark new line on Sunday with his "virtual act of Treason" tweet regarding a New York Times report on U.S. cyber espionage against Russia. In fact, the Times told the administration of the cyber program story in advance and didn't reveal security details, but that isn't even the point. "Enemy of the people" has now morphed into "treason." How much more slippery will this slope get?
(In an aside that highlights the logical inconsistencies Trump so often displays, he claimed in the same set of tweets that the story is "ALSO NOT TRUE!" How, then, could it be "treason" to report on a program that doesn't exist?)
On Sunday, during a different tweet-rant in which Trump speculated that the Times and The Washington Post would go out of business when he leaves office after a second term, he asked parenthetically: "do you think people would demand I stay longer?" Suddenly, those who worry aloud that Trump might refuse to leave office if he's voted out next year don't sound so paranoid. The Constitution bars candidates from being elected more than twice to the presidency.
Most disturbing of all was Trump's Monday night tweet — on the eve of his reelection rally — announcing the imminent roundup of "millions" of undocumented immigrants. There are times when large-scale immigration enforcement operations might be necessary and justified. But the fact that Trump would announce it like that is unheard of for immigration sweeps — unless, of course, the point isn't immigration enforcement but rather shoveling red meat to a base hungry for aggressive action against a highly vulnerable sector of the population.
Those among Trump's defenders who cringe at his personal style like to say it's his accomplishments that matter. But what are they? Two putative successes stand out, but both carry asterisks as big as the one next to his election "victory" involving the loss of the popular vote but Electoral College win. Yes, the economy is roaring, but virtually all the data shows that success to be a continuation of upward trends that began under the Obama administration. And, yes, Trump won his promised tax cuts — but at the price of exploding the deficit and doing precious little to benefit anyone other than the richest Americans.
What of Trump's other promises? His massive infrastructure program, the best idea of his campaign, has turned out to be a dead-end highway. As for building his southern border wall and repealing Obamacare, we're glad he hasn't managed to do either. But, in terms of judging a president by his own promises, he failed to do as he promised.
In Orlando, Trump reiterated his 2016 promises anyway, as if he is again running against that person currently serving in the White House. He conjured up a mocking imitation of his 2016 opponent, Hillary Clinton. Then he complained, again, about how the election system is supposedly rigged against him.
To his twisted credit, Trump has executed a clear strategy of scapegoating immigrants for all of America's problems. On this issue, he has delivered in chilling fashion. He has empowered vigilante groups to conduct their own border-area roundups. And who would have believed three years ago that America is a nation that puts children behind bars and separates even infants from their parents?
It was Maya Angelou who advised, "When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time." Donald Trump has been showing America throughout his first term — and particularly in this past week — that he is, in a word, deplorable. A man this deplorable has no business getting another turn at the helm of a great nation.
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