Donald Trump is a self-declared patriot. The greatest patriot ever. He’s just really, really great at being a patriot. But according to Liam McLoughlin’s research, if the Founding Fathers had foreseen ‘Trump 2016’, they’d have probably founded Canada instead. Turns out that under scrutiny. The Donald’s views don’t square away all that well.
In a related development, a tourist at Mount Rushmore swears she heard George Washington yell ‘FFS’ during the recent presidential debate.
Many American conservatives cling to the Constitution and claim the vision of the Founding Fathers as their own. The historical record makes a mockery of such claims.
It’s fair to say if Founding Fathers like George Washington, James Madison, John Adams, Thomas Paine and Alexander Hamilton were alive today, not only would they be really old and pretty confused by all the tweeting they’d also be deeply disturbed by the chunderous spectacle of the Trump campaign, barely recognising the spooky funhouse mirror of American democracy reflected back at them.
As evidence, let’s see how the public statements of a would- be- daughter- dating- father stack up against those of the Founding Fathers on key election issues.
Maybe Donald Trump really is a latter-day Thomas Jefferson?
Thomas Jefferson was the primary author of the Declaration of Independence (1776) and was elected the third US President in 1800. James Madison helped draft and promote the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and was President from 1809- 1817. They both had strong views on the need for corporate regulation.
“If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their money, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them will deprive the people of their property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.” – Thomas Jefferson
“I hope that we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.” – Thomas Jefferson
“The power of all corporations ought to be limited… the growing wealth acquired by them never fails to be a source of abuses.” – James Madison
Donald Trump is great, really so very great at business, despite filing for bankruptcy six times. He has some terrific opinions on corporate regulation. “We are cutting the regulation at a tremendous clip. I would say 70 per cent of regulations can go. It’s just stopping business from growing.” – Donald Trump
Thomas Paine was an English-American political activist who authored the influential pamphlet Common Sense at the start of the American Revolution. He isn’t considered a Founding Father, but joined Jefferson in recognising the pitfalls of war.
“He who is the author of a war, lets loose the whole contagion of hell, and opens a vein that bleeds a nation to death.” – Thomas Paine
“War is an instrument entirely inefficient toward redressing wrong; and multiplies, instead of indemnifying losses.” – Thomas Jefferson
However, these guys were wieners compared to the current Republican nominee. “There’s nobody bigger or better at the military than I am.” – Donald Trump
“I’m good at war. I’ve had a lot of wars of my own. I’m really good at war. I love war in a certain way, but only when we win.” – Donald Trump
George Washington was the Commander- in- Chief of the Continental Army during the American War of Independence and became the first US President in 1789. He spoke of justice, liberalism and dignified civic conduct.
“As Mankind becomes more liberal, they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protections of civil government. I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations of justice and liberality.” – George Washington
Mr Trump has a different view. “Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy.” – Donald Trump
John Adams was an American lawyer and diplomat who promoted strong central government and became the second President of the United States in 1797. Both he and George Washington believed that facts mattered.
“Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclination, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.” – John Adams
“We have abundant reason to rejoice that in this Land the light of truth and reason has triumphed over the power of bigotry and superstition…” – George Washington
Not so much George. The Donald is keener on the bigotry and superstition bit. “An ‘extremely credible source’ has called my office and told me that Barack Obama’s birth certificate is a fraud.” – Donald Trump
“The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non- competitive.” – Donald Trump
As the first ever US Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton knew just how essential taxation was to functions of the state.
“As to Taxes, they are evidently inseparable from Government. It is impossible without them to pay the debts of the nation, to protect it from foreign danger, or to secure individuals from lawless violence and rapine.” – Alexander Hamilton
Trump would never have let Hamilton finish this statement, interrupting him with something about how not paying federal income taxes “makes me smart”. He’d go on to talk about his promised cuts to the corporate tax rate. “I’ll be reducing taxes tremendously from 35 percent to 15 percent… I’m going to cut taxes big league and you’re going to raise taxes big league, end of story.” – Donald Trump
Many of the Founding Fathers spoke of the need for quality education in a functioning democracy.
“A nation under a well- regulated government should permit none to remain uninstructed. It is monarchical and aristocratical government only that requires ignorance for its support.” – Thomas Paine
“Educate and inform the whole mass of the people.” – Thomas Jefferson
“Knowledge will forever govern ignorance: And a people who mean to be their own Governors, must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.” – James Madison
“My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.” – John Adams
Luckily for the masses, the Donald has winning intelligence – no one is smarter than this guy. “Sorry losers and haters, but my IQ is one of the highest – and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure – it’s not your fault!” – Donald Trump
“I was down there, and I watched our police and our firemen, down on 7-Eleven, down at the World Trade Centre, right after it came down.” – Donald Trump
Trump does have one thing in common with the giants of American history – a love of walls… though of a slightly different kind.
“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship…I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between church and State.” – Thomas Jefferson
“I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me, and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.” – Donald Trump
Minority Rights and Justice
This one is pretty rich coming from slave owners who treated women as second class citizens and were involved in the genocide of Indigenous peoples, but the Founding Fathers did at least pay rhetorical tribute to the doctrine of equal rights.
“…the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.” – Thomas Jefferson
“Equal and exact justice to all men, of whatever persuasion, religious or political.” – Thomas Jefferson
Even the ability of American political leaders to at least conceal their racism and sexism has gone downhill. “I have a great relationship with the Blacks. I’ve always had a great relationship with the Blacks.” – Donald Trump
“Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are little short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.” – Donald Trump
“You know, it really doesn’t matter what [the media]write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.” – Donald Trump
Thomas Jefferson framed immigration as being about mutual rights and responsibilities.
“Born in other countries, yet believing you could be happy in this, our laws acknowledge, as they should do, your right to join us in society, conforming, as I doubt not you will do, to our established rules.” – Thomas Jefferson.
Donald Trump’s immigration frame is somewhat less nuanced. “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best. They’re not sending you, they’re sending people that have lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bring crime. They’re rapists… And some, I assume, are good people.” – Donald Trump
“Donald Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what’s going on”. – Press release for the Trump campaign
The Profit Motive
The early heavyweights of US democracy repudiated unbridled wealth acquisition.
“As riches increase and accumulate in few hands, as luxury prevails in society, virtue will be in a greater degree considered as only a graceful appendage of wealth, and the tendency of things will be to depart from the republican standard.” – Alexander Hamilton
“Government is instituted for the common good; for the protection, safety, prosperity, and happiness of the people; and not for profit, honor, or private interest of any one man, family, or class of men…” – John Adams
Trump repudiates humility. “Part of the beauty of me is that I’m very rich.” – Donald Trump
“I’m really rich. And by the way, I’m not saying that in a bragging way, that’s the kind of mindset you need for this country. We gotta make this country rich.” – Donald Trump
As the American late night shows have repeatedly shown over the last year, there’s much comedy in Trump’s presidential bid.
But comedy doesn’t get much blacker than this, because Trump 2016 is the sorriest symptom yet of America’s ailing political system.
In a recent episode of Democracy Now, author of America at War with Itself, Henry A. Giroux, tries to account for the Trump nightmare: “You live in a country marked by a culture of the immediate, you live in a country that’s marked by celebrity culture, that basically infantilises people, paralyses them, eliminates all notions of civic literacy, turns the schools into bastions of ignorance, that completely kills the radical imagination in a fundamental way. What happens with Trump is you see something utterly symptomatic of the decline of a formative culture that makes democracy possible.”
Unless America grapples with these and other causes, Trump and his ilk will have the last laugh.