Most of the time when you see “orange man bad” it is by a Trump supporter and/or apologist using it to imply that you blindly hate Trump, and that this blind hate is just motivated by partisanship and tribalism. While this can sometimes be true of a Trump-hater, this is most often a hollow accusation used by Trump apologists to dismiss all criticism of Trump. There are in fact extremely good reasons to see Trump as the worst, or near worst, president in US history.
Trump’s many bad policy decisions
- He pulled us out of the Paris Climate Accord, claiming it disadvantaged us economically. It didn’t. It was simply a non-binding agreement that recognized climate change was real, needs to be combated, and leaves each country to develop its own policies to combat it. Pulling out supports science-denial and makes America look like can’t be trusted to honor its commitments.
- He pulled out of the Iran Nuclear deal, saying it let Iran do what it wanted. Actually, no deal allows them to do whatever they want. The nuclear deal allowed us to at least have minimal oversight and control on what Iran was doing. And like with the climate accord, pulling out makes the US look untrustworthy with its commitments.
- In March 2018 Trump banned most transgender people from the military. His exact tweet was: “the United States Government will not accept or allow Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.” The rationales for the ban went directly against the public positions of, among many others, the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Psychological Association. Given the rejection of this policy by the relevant professions, this move was most likely just another part of the partisan culture ware; a move of appeasement for Trump’s trans-hating fundamentalist constituents.
- He enacted a “zero tolerance” policy that, in addition to other problems, precipitated many thousands more children being separated from their parents at the border than that had occurred under his predecessor. Children had occasionally been separated before this under existing policy, but not anywhere the levels that occurred as a direct result of this specific policy.
- He ballooned the deficit by cutting taxes (and therefore revenue). He claimed cutting taxes would grow the economy, however, the GDP grew at levels almost identical to Obama and GW Bush, .32% per quarter. Same with almost every other economic indicator. In virtually every way (before the pandemic) the economy continued at the same rate it did under Obama. There was no meaningful boost from the tax cut, only increase in debt. Indeed, Trump increased the debt by almost as much as Obama after the end of his first term; 51% for Obama, 42% for Trump. That isn’t fiscal conservatism. You might say that’s unfair because Trump had a pandemic happen in his term. Well, Obama also had a disadvantage he didn’t cause; inheriting the Great Recession.
- Trump engaged in protectionist policies that hurt US consumers and trade partners. Free trade is one of the few things that virtually all economists of the left and right agree is almost without exception always a good thing. Going against this, Trump pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP is a deal that removed 99% of tariffs for all included countries. US exports would have increased by $123.5 billion per year. Trump pulled out because he didn’t think the deal was preferential enough to the US, particularly US farmers. Instead, Trump placed tariffs on $250 billion worth of imports from China, leading China to retaliate with billions of dollars in tariffs against the US, especially on US farmers. This hurt farmers so badly that Trump had to give farmers $28 billion per year of taxpayer-funded support to keep them afloat. China never backed down; they just increased how much they bought from Brazil and Argentina. This policy was disastrous for US soybean farmers (soybeans are the US’s largest agricultural export). Tariffs increased the prices on products for American consumers, and they equated to $80 billion new taxes on Americans. These protectionist policies of the former president were a resounding and costly failure.
- Trump doubled down on a policy that has failed for over 55 years, adding more trade and travel restrictions on Cuba.
- The Border wall. He barely began it, let alone finished it. Most experts agree it was an absurdly impracticable way of securing the border. And it highlighted some of Trump’s worst positions; that Mexicans are dangerous, that they’re taking our jobs, and they’re voting en masse illegally in our elections. None of which is true. Mexican immigrants (documented and undocumented) commit crimes at a rate no higher than US citizens, and they are a net economic benefit.
- His handling of the pandemic was possibly his greatest failure. He made a point to minimize the pandemic, say it was a made-up problem by Democrats to hurt his campaign (that doesn’t explain why most other countries took it seriously), he discouraged mask-wearing, he supported crackpots like the “demon sex” doctor Stella Immanuel, he pushed fake cures like hydroxychloroquine, he attacked public health officials for doing their job, and he politicized the pandemic into another partisan culture war topic instead of leaving it as a public health topic. He had dissolved the CDC’s pandemic response team (seemingly only because Obama made it). Under his leadership, the cumulative deaths per million people became uniquely higher in the US than most other first-world countries. Japan had 111, Norway 145, India 275, Canada 687, Germany 1,075, Sweden 1,443, Europe overall was 1,456, and the US was 1,638.
Positive Trump achievements
- Trump renegotiated NAFTA with better terms for the US.
- Trump didn’t get the US into any new wars.
- Operation Warp Speed got Covid-19 vaccines developed and available in decent time.
Based on this, Trump’s bad policies outweigh his good policies. And this is without further getting into things like his attempts to shutdown the Mueller investigation before it finished (ex Trump lawyer Don McGahn confirmed this), which was attempted obstruction of justice. You didn’t have to think Trump was a Russian spy to want Mueller to investigate and report on exactly what happened with Russia in 2016. It was a matter of national security, it shouldn’t have been politicized. Mueller was a Republican himself with a long outstanding career; opposition to his investigation was far more partisan than the support for it.
Other Trump flaws include his pandering to the theocratic religious right with things like propaganda photo ops of him awkwardly holding a Bible or being swarmed by preachers in prayer, his refusal to ever acknowledge his loss in a fair election, spending $154 million taxpayer dollars on vacation in 4 years versus Obama’s $105 million in 8 years, inciting the January 6th insurrection, his Stormy Daniels scandal (which is made more ironic by his appeals to the puritanical religious-right), he partied with child molester Jeffrey Epstein (something his supporters hypocritically attack the Clintons for supposedly doing), and much more.
He really does lie more than pretty much every president in sheer volume of false statements. He claimed murder rates were at record highs in 2016, they were near record lows; he said 6-18 people died in Puerto Rico after the tsunami, the actual number was already calculated to be over 3,000; he said he had the largest inauguration crowd, he didn’t, Obama’s was bigger; he said he had the largest electoral college win since Reagan, Obama 2008 and George H.W. Bush both won by more; he said millions of illegal immigrants voted in the 2016 election, there is no evidence of that; Trump said he didn’t call Megan Markle “nasty,” a recording surfaced proving he did; Trump said the Mueller report exonerated him, the Mueller report said it didn’t; Trump claimed that his tax cuts were the “The biggest tax cuts in history,” but Ronald Reagan’s tax cut in 1981 was much bigger; and many, many more lies.
He’s not even a good business man like his supporters said. His failures include Trump steaks (2007), GoTrump.com (2006), Trump Airlines (1989), Trump Vodka (2006), Trump Mortgage (2006), his board game (1989) Trump: The Game, Trump Magazine (2007), Trump University, Trump Ice natural spring water (2004), Tour de Trump bike races (1989), Trump on the Ocean restaurant catering (2012), The Trump Network vitamin pyramid scheme (2009), Trumped! talk radio show (2004), Trump News Media (1998), and Trump’s wildly expensive Taj Mahal casino failure in the 80s just to name a few. Trump has filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy for his companies six times. The one thing Trump seems to be good at in business is shifting the cost of failures onto other people. With the Taj Mahal fiasco he managed to side-step $900 million dollars he had personally guaranteed after its failure. Trump supporters cheer Trump for this sort of cut-throating without innovating or creating value, but they would have viciously attacked, for example, Bill Gates had he done the same thing.
One of the things Trump’s supporters said was good about him is that “he wasn’t a politician.” And yet, when in office, he did all the same stuff we hate about politicians. He lied, he almost always attacked people rather than policy, and when he did attack policy he misrepresented it to mislead the public. A particularly swampy politician thing he did was give special preference to close friends and people who gave him money in the campaign when he appointed people to government positions. Linda McMahon gave $7.5 million to back his White House run, then Trump selected her to run the Small Business Administration. Betsy Devos gave $1.8 million, then got made education secretary. Todd Ricketts gave $1.3 million and became commerce secretary. Steven Mnuchin gave $425,000 and became treasury secretary. Andrew Puzder gave $332,000 and became labor secretary. Wilbur Ross gave Trump $200,000 and became commerce secretary. Thirty-eight percent of the people he appointed to high office shortly after being elected were monied campaign donors. I literally can’t think of one thing that people attack politicians for doing that Trump didn’t do, other than at least pretend to be a good person.
Lastly, Trump was an incredibly divisive, incredibly partisan president. He made it clear he was only the president of Republicans, not the president of all Americans. He divided America more than any president in modern history. He viciously attacked his opponents on twitter and in press conferences with childish schoolyard bully insults. He antagonized everyone who disagreed with him and explicitly made it clear he wanted to accomplish his policies by rolling roughshod over the other political tribe, not by seeking bipartisanship. He has made Americans hate one-another more than they have in a long time. Trump absolutely isn’t the origin of most of these problems, but he did his damnedest to use them to his advantage, making them much worse in the process.