“Just remember, what you are seeing and what you are reading is not what’s happening. Just stick with us, don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news.” President Donald Trump, July 24, 2018
“The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.” George Orwell, “1984”
President Donald Trump has built his entire adult career on selling himself and conning others. He attaches his name to products and services and promises buyers a lifestyle like his. When he created Trump University in 2004, he sold the promise of wealth through real estate. What his clients got were old textbooks and stale ideas. At least Trump ultimately had to pay for that scam. A court ordered him to reimburse $25 million to the people he had cheated.
In November 2009, Trump began hawking Trump Network. Trump Network was a pyramid marketing scheme, selling vitamins, nutritional supplements and skin care products. Trump promised clients “renewed hope, and an exciting plan to opt out of the recession,” by building their own businesses.
By early 2012, Trump Network was sold to another company, at a loss. Over 21,000 people had trusted the company, hoping to recover from the recession; they lost everything they had invested. Trump promised economic relief; he delivered failure.
In 2006, Trump began selling planned condos at the Trump Ocean Resort in Baja, promising a luxurious beach lifestyle. Customers chose their units from a floor plan and paid their deposits of $50,000 or more. Over 250 unbuilt units were sold, bringing in over $32 million in deposits. In 2009, Trump and his partners declared bankruptcy and walked away with millions in their pockets, leaving their customers with nothing but sand. This is a perfect example of Trump’s business model – sell the name, take the money and run.
He is now continuing this flim-flam with his claims about the economy. Two Republican senators, Todd Young and Mike Braun, recently wrote about the current economy: “Last month’s (March 2019) stellar jobs report, which includes 196,000 new jobs and a 3.8% unemployment rate, cemented the longest streak of consecutive American job growth. This is thanks to pro-growth tax cuts and a bold regulatory agenda championed by President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans.” (Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, April 15, 2019)
Of course, this “longest streak of consecutive American job growth” began in March 2010, years before any actions by Trump. This month, President Barack Obama’s economic recovery became the longest recovery in American history. The previous record holder was the economic recovery under President Bill Clinton.
Fortunately, Obama’s economy was so strong it has survived even Trump’s bungling. That may not last long, however, due to Trump’s inept handling of tariffs and trade agreements. American consumers are being seriously harmed by Trump’s economic ignorance.
His tariff policies have cost American consumers over $22 billion in increased costs. Farmers are losing markets they spent decades building. That can’t be fixed by farmer welfare, which is what Trump offers them in exchange.
Trump is destroying our standing in the world by his erratic and impulsive behavior, demonstrating that America’s word can’t be trusted. Alliances built over decades are being dismantled, while murderous thugs are praised. Anyone who thinks this shows strength is being willfully and dangerously ignorant.
Some people say, “Well, the American people knew what kind of man Trump was and they elected him anyway.” That’s not actually true. Nearly 3 million more people voted for Hillary Clinton than for Trump. That would be a huge margin of victory in any presidential election. Trump is president because of the quirks of the Electoral College, by fewer than 80,000 votes. He’s the legal president, but he’s not who America voted for.
Trump’s whole administration, with its “alternative facts” and all, is a perfect example of “Newspeak” as described in the novel “1984,” a story of a totalitarian society controlled by a leader called Big Brother. Like Big Brother, Trump has learned to manipulate his followers with lies, demanding loyalty to himself rather than to truth, in order to achieve his own ends.
Like Winston Smith, the protagonist in “1984,” Trump’s followers believe everything he says, despite reality, just as Winston finally believed that “two and two could have been three as easily as five, if that were what was needed.” If you want to understand the nightmare of deception we are currently experiencing, read the book. George Orwell really saw what was coming.
Jeanette Strong, whose column appears every other week, is a Nevada Press Association award-winning columnist. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.