Donald Trump, the millionaire businessman turned President, may go down in history as one of the most politically incompetent and inexperienced POTUS’ in history, but just how much truth is there to this? Whilst the President is indeed completely lacking in any previous political experience, his record of political involvement is not so squeaky clean.
During Barack Obama‘s Presidency, Trump was obsessed with Obama. Think Ross’s obsession with Rachel, turn the love into hatred, add an accusation of not being born an American citizen, and you have the Obama-Trump relationship. Trump was determined to disprove and discredit Obama in every way he thought possible, including starting rumours (Read: Blatant Lies) about President Obama being born in Kenya, rather than Hawaii, something which, until Trump decided to stir up, had never been questioned before. Trump’s ‘credible source’ on Obama’s birth certificate depicting him as Kenyan born was most likely a figment of his own Obama-crazed consciousness, considering that Obama’s American birth certificate had been released in 2008, something which 2011-2017 Trump either could not seem to grasp, or chose to ignore. An episode of this was the infamous White House Correspondents dinner, at which President Obama, accompanied by Seth Rogen, attempted to silence Trump’s claims in the strangest and yet most creative way possible, by playing Obama’s birth video (Read: Simba’s birth from the Lion King). Trump, undeterred, also decided to attack and question president Obama’s academic record and literary success, making claims that Obama’s supposed classmates did not know who he was, and also that Obama did not write his own books, which is ironic when you consider that ‘The Art of the Deal’, Trump’s own published book, was not, in fact, written by Trump himself. Through Trump’s obsession with Obama, he started on his political journey, and probably has Obama to thank for his Presidency, due to Trump’s use of Obama to pull himself into the political spotlight through his continual, and somewhat embarrassing, challenge to the former President.
However, it may be surprising to hear that Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign was not his first bid for Presidency. In 2000, he ran for the candidacy of the Reform Party, a central, populist party, founded in 1992. Since they were a fairly new party, perhaps Trump thought this would be an excellent way to push his controversial views. However, he was unsuccessful in his bid for the presidency and he withdrew in March 2000, conceding to Pat Buchanan. Although this campaign was unsuccessful, it contained much inflammatory rhetoric and policy not dissimilar to that of his 2016 campaign, such as proposing a one time tax on all wealthy Americans, which would “Eliminate the country’s debt”. Later, in 2016, he ran as the Republican candidate, a more established party, where Trump was more electable due to the two party system. The fact that Trump has previously run for president may have worked in his favour, as he had fronted more than one campaign. Perhaps he simply made the choice of backing the wrong party? Or maybe, just maybe, the world hadn’t stuck its fingers in a political plug socket in the 2000s, and perhaps wanted a President whose primary mission wasn’t to ‘keep the Mexicans out.’
Fast forward to 2016. Donald Trump is President of the United States. How did that happen? How did a candidate with no political experience, and inflammatory rhetoric that shocked the rest of the world, take a seat in the Oval Office? His first tactic was his simple message, following in the footsteps of Ronald Reagan, another President with no political experience. Thus, “Make America Great Again” became Trump’s tagline, emblazoned on hats, shirts, and all manner of obscure objects. His message inspired both fear and hope. Another tactic was his political evasiveness. He had an understanding that policies popular in the “Bible Belt” may not sit well in “New England”. Donald Trump had an answer to this, he simply decided to not promise policy at all. He may have outlined broad policy areas (tailored to the different regional cultures), but he refused to go into specifics, and in appealing to many, he managed to secure his Presidential seat.
Although Trump has no political experience, his political track record is not a clean slate. He has been involved in politics, like many business tycoons, all wanting their say in how the country is run, because they think their wealth and businesses entitle them to it; Trump burst onto the political scene quite violently, not only attacking president Obama, but running for presidency not once but twice. If a failed campaign and slander count as political experience, then Trump is certainly the right candidate, but if you class political experience as holding a political office, then perhaps Trump doesn’t have the political experience you’re looking for.
Written by Jess Stoff