The last election in 2016 feels simultaneously like it was yesterday and 100 years ago.
Weren’t we just here, a week out from a monumental election, eying polls that told us Donald Trump was certain to lose?
But also, it’s hard to remember life so many years ago, before Trump dominated the news cycle, social media and our collective psyches with his non-stop, attention-seeking melodramas. It was a simpler time, before Joe Biden was “sleepy,” before there were “s—hole countries,” before a man who would be president boasted he could “grab ’em by the p—,” before journalists were the “enemy of the people,” before war veterans were “losers” and “suckers,” before science could be changed with a Sharpie.
It was also a time before COVID-19, when we were still going places. Remember places? I miss them.
But as we look to the coming election and what the next four years could bring with our vote for president, it’s important to take stock of the last four years. And America has paid dearly for taking a chance on Trump.
In electing a reality show president, we predictably got one — a person who was more interested in television ratings, gimmicks, stunts, theatrics and fans than he was in putting in the hard and often messy work of governing. Even when it came to his own policy promises — like building a wall or replacing Obamacare — Trump couldn’t deliver, because neither could be solved with rallies or photo-ops.
When his marketing gimmicks didn’t work to make Trump a successful president, he tried coercion. Bullying Republicans who would defy him into submission with threats of a primary, convincing his supporters to obediently lap up nonsensical conspiracy theories about his opponents, attempting to bribe a Ukrainian president to investigate Joe Biden’s son, leaning on public officials at the Department of Justice, the FBI and other agencies to treat him favorably, threatening to reject the election results, smearing the media — none of it was because he was winning at presidenting, but because he was failing at it.
Under Trump, we are measurably less safe. White supremacist groups have been designated the top national security threat by the Department of Homeland Security, thanks in no small part to his own rhetoric and policies.
Trump’s supporters would be quick to insist on some “accomplishments.” He’s made three Supreme Court appointments, which, given the circumstances of Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passings, any Republican could also have done. He also moved our embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, they’d say — which may be a symbolic win, but has really only practically impacted the 50 folks who work there.
Some Trump supporters might also say he’s protected their “way of life,” a not-so-coy nod to his defense of white nationalism, his anti-immigrant rhetoric, racism, misogyny and 1950s ideas of gender roles. Sounding very much like a post-World War II ad in Good Housekeeping, Trump just this week told suburban women in Michigan that he’s “getting your husbands back to work.”
But any so-called accomplishments are far overshadowed by his abject failures. Not only was he impeached, he’s presided over a pandemic that has killed more than 225,000 Americans and is on track to kill upwards of 400,000 by next spring. Thanks to his early and continuing denial of the virus’s severity, his lack of preparedness for this or any pandemic, his refusal to accept science, his unwillingness to practice safety measures and tell his supporters to do the same, and his utter disregard for the value of human life, America leads the world in COVID-19 cases — a truly shameful statistic.
He’s also likely to face serious criminal charges after he’s no longer president, for any number of crimes ranging from tax fraud to obstruction of justice to campaign finance violations. Not a winning way to start one’s presidential biography.
Perhaps most objectionably, he’s also fleeced the American public, his own voters, out of millions of dollars just to line his own pockets.
A Washington Post report this week showed Trump has billed taxpayers and his political supporters for $8.1 million in charges since taking office. We’ve paid for everything from votive candles to golf carts to decorative palm trees to breakfast buffets to glasses of water (yep) at his properties.
All this while the United States hits record levels of debt; the country’s debt is projected to be 102% of our GDP in fiscal year 2020, making our debt greater than our economy. Trump’s profligate spending of taxpayer money is nothing less than revolting.
All told, Trump’s presidency has been an unmitigated disaster. Even if you supported him in 2016, he’s failed to deliver on most of his promises, he’s failed to keep you healthy and safe, he’s turned you against your neighbor and he’s done it all while stealing from you.
There might have been good intentions for 2016 and the Trump experiment. But four years later the results are in and the record is clear: corruption, greed, gaslighting, hate and incompetence.
We simply cannot afford four more years of this.
S.E. Cupp is the host of “S.E. Cupp Unfiltered” on CNN.
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