Donald Trump would be the worst president in American history

You can argue about the best way to defeat Trump. But it is beyond question that he must lose.

Donald Trump has built his political and business career on lies.
(Image credit: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

This election is developing something of a signature: Each and every day, Donald Trump says or does something horrible. Democrats have their squabbles, to be sure, but have now basically settled into a normal pattern. The final primary vote was completed on Tuesday, and now Hillary Clinton is laying the groundwork for what will undoubtedly be a very boring and cautious campaign.

Trump, by contrast, is constantly getting massive attention for being a deluded, ignorant, racist maniac. He combines an unprecedented facility to manipulate the modern media environment with gutter bigotry and a complete lack of policy knowledge. If elected, he would almost certainly displace Andrew Johnson as the worst president in American history.

After the Orlando shooting, the now-familiar Trump routine was on full display. He immediately connected the attacks to Islam in general, and triumphantly claimed it proved the need for his proposed (wildly unconstitutional) ban on Muslim immigration to the U.S. Later, he suggested that President Obama himself may have conspired with the shooter.

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Trump got his start in national politics by peddling a deranged conspiracy theory that Obama was not born in the United States, so it's perhaps not so surprising that he would invent another one on the fly. But let me emphasize this. The presumptive Republican nominee for president, on national television, clearly implied that President Obama helped someone shoot 49 people to death in cold blood. That is so far beyond the political pale it's almost impossible to grasp.

And yet Trump so often does stuff like this it barely even registers. He never apologizes or admits an error — instead he moves on with another atrocity, like re-tweeting bogus neo-Nazi propaganda or suggesting the Geneva Conventions should be abandoned. So when Obama attacked him for the Muslim ban (not even mentioning the conspiracy, mind you), Trump retorted by all but accusing the president of being in league with ISIS, saying he "claims to know our enemy, and yet he continues to prioritize our enemy over our allies, and for that matter, the American people."

Even his image as an enormously successful businessman is an outright fraud. Trump puffs himself up as a great investor and real estate developer, but in reality he's an economic parasite in the Jay Gould mold. As economist J.W. Mason explains, most of Trump's riches were created via a simple three-step formula: 1. Borrow tons of money, 2. Invest during a real estate bubble, and 3. Cash out the accumulated equity as it builds up. All Trump's various bankruptcies and financial wreckage left behind were not the incidental result of the occasional investment gone wrong, they were key to his business model. He funneled the equity into his own pockets, while loading the debt onto various corporations and investment vehicles — who then took most of the bankruptcy damage.

Something analogous holds for basically everything Trump has done for his entire business career. As Matt Yglesias writes:

Across these ventures, Trump has mastered essentially a single skill — structuring deals to be financially beneficial to him personally regardless of whether the underlying business is successful. Rather than creating wealth for his business partners, Trump took advantage of investors who believed in him in order to benefit himself personally — just as he did years later with the "students" at Trump University. [Vox]

Aside from xenophobia and racism, this is pretty much all Trump knows. Now, super-detailed policy knowledge isn't the most important thing in politics; parties and campaigns have experts for that. But Trump evinces a total disregard for all policy, history, and facts in general, including what he said years (or five minutes) ago. He's the walking id of the gutter of American politics: Whatever bad things are happening, it's a minority's fault somehow.

One can argue about the best way to defeat Trump. But it is beyond question that he must lose. It must be demonstrated that Trumpism does not pay electoral dividends. He must be crushed beyond recognition. His name should go down in history as the most ludicrous, humiliating failure in the history of American presidential politics, so that his great-great grandchildren change their names in shame.

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