A comprehensive guide to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign
Every day, Donald Trump seems to outdo his previous day's outrage. Here, compiled in one place for handy reference, are the lowlights of his campaign (so far).
Racism and White Nationalism
In August, Hillary Clinton delivered a pivotal speech detailing Trump’s centering of white nationalism in his campaign and his mainstreaming of their ugly constellation of bigotries, which culminated with his hiring of Steven Bannon as his campaign’s chief executive. (He followed up by hiring sleaze-merchant and president of Citizens United David Bossie a few weeks later.)
Bannon, the executive chair of conservative media outlet Breitbart News – which, under his leadership, has effectively become the media arm of the alt-right – has overseen the confluence of Breitbart becoming an aggressively pro-Trump outlet and becoming an unapologetically white nationalist space, in which racism, nativism, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism form a toxic stew of white supremacist hatred, commingling with the favorite conservative bailiwicks of misogyny and queerphobia.
Hiring Bannon in such a prominent, key campaign role confirmed my colleague Peter Daou’s theory that Trump is using his presidential campaign to foment a white nationalist awakening. Which has long been apparent to white nationalists:
Trump entered the political sphere in 2011 as a prominent birther, questioning President Obama’s citizenship – a campaign he has never disavowed and about which he now merely says: “I don’t talk about it anymore.”
— Sopan Deb (@SopanDeb) September 3, 2016
His opening salvo in this election was using his announcement address to assert: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. … They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”
He has subsequently careened at full speed through the intervening year and a half with a ceaseless onslaught of bigoted statements and proposals.
He proposed building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border; he has proposed deporting millions of undocumented immigrants; he has proposed killing civilians to stop radical jihadists; he has tepidly disavowed white supremacist supporters; he has retweeted neo-Nazis; he proposed banning Muslims from entering the U.S.; he accused Indiana-born U.S. District Court Judge Gonzalo Curiel of being unable to be impartial because of his Mexican heritage; he attacked Gold Star parents because they criticized his anti-Muslim policies; he has used anti-Semitic symbols and slogans and dog whistles; he has routinely used racist language; he asserted that President Obama is the founder of ISIS; he has spoken to white audiences about how horrendous he believes Black Americans’ lives and communities are; he has proposed a purity test for immigrants; he has solicited volunteers for voter intimidation; he has proposed patriotism and “national pride” indoctrination for schoolchildren.
This is, I regret to say, not even a comprehensive list, but a mere snapshot of the sort of racial bigotry that is central to Trump’s campaign.
It is no coincidence that white nationalism is going mainstream, ushered to new visibility and prominence by the Republican Party nominee, in this moment.
We sit at a historical pivot point – at the end of the presidency of our nation’s first Black president and on the precipice of the likely presidency of our nation’s first woman president. White nationalism is about maintaining white supremacy; it is also, and equally, about maintaining male supremacy. The patriarchy and white power have always coexisted, reinforcing each other in a recursive loop to uphold white male dominance in America.
Which brings us to Part 2.
Trump’s extensive history of unapologetic public sexism is well-documented – and long predates the 2016 presidential campaign. Just throughout the duration of this campaign, however, he has racked up quite the extraordinary record of demeaning women.
One of the earliest – and most widely reported – incidents was his accusation that debate moderator Megyn Kelly, who had asked him about his history of sexism, had “blood coming out of her wherever,” which was only the first of a number of inappropriate comments he’s directed at female journalists, including Katy Tur, whom he told to “be quiet” and has called “Little Katy, third-rate journalist.”
Any woman who gets in his way quickly becomes the target of his sexist rhetoric: He mocked the appearance of his primary opponent Carly Fiorina; he has launched sexist and racist attacks on his prominent critic Senator Elizabeth Warren; and naturally he has repeatedly hurled sexism at Hillary Clinton, from questioning whether she “looks presidential” to calling her a “lowlife” to engaging in “stochastic terrorism” against her.
And when he’s feuding with a man, he’s likely to try to insult him by calling his wife unattractive, thus treating women like their husbands’ property.
Over and over, Trump has claimed that his presidency would be good for women. That he cherishes women. That nobody respects women more than he does. But in both word and deed, he has proven precisely the opposite.
He panders cynically and transparently for women’s votes, while including zero women on his economic advisory team and declining to name “any possible women he would name to his cabinet as president on Wednesday, instead naming his daughter Ivanka and the woman interviewing him as possible cabinet members.”
Meanwhile, he grossly defended his erstwhile campaign manager accused of shoving a female reporter, but tells sexually harassed women to stop complaining and quit their jobs, and employs the assistance of Roger Ailes, a man accused of extensive sexual harassment, for debate prep against Clinton.
His policy specifics on issues like equal pay are either nonexistent or total rubbish, and he gives answers to questions about equal pay like: “You’re gonna make the same if you do as good a job.”
But there was, perhaps, no greater signal that Trump is no friend to women than his choice of running mate: Mike Pence has built an entire career on being awful for women.
And for LGBTQ Americans. Which brings us to Part 3.
Homophobia and Transphobia
On September 1, Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, wrote an op-ed for CNN detailing the many ways Trump would be a threat to LGBTQ people in the U.S. and abroad. An excerpt:
Trump has spent his campaign threatening to undo crucial protections for LGBTQ people in the United States, vowing to appoint judges to the Supreme Court to turn back the legalization of same-sex marriage and supporting state-sanctioned discrimination against transgender people.
He has courted extremists who foment hate both here and export it abroad. His running mate, Mike Pence, as a congressman in 2009, opposed language in federal legislation to monitor and combat human rights violations against LGBTQ people abroad, accusing Democrats of attempting to “promote a gay rights agenda around the globe.”
Trump has also sought support from leading exporters of anti-LGBTQ hate, including the Alliance Defending Freedom. Well known for the work it does within US borders, ADF is also spreading hate in countries around the world, from fighting equality in Russia to recruiting and training anti-equality activists in Nepal.
Together, Donald Trump and Mike Pence seem to have little interest in — and perhaps little understanding of — the dire plight faced by asylum seekers, including those who seek to flee the violence of ISIS or escape the anti-LGBTQ regime in Russia.
Additionally, in hiring Breitbart News chair Bannon, Trump welcomed to his campaign a person who has overseen some of the most despicable anti-gay and anti-trans media content published on a prominent platform in recent memory.
Hostility to the Press
In June, Politico published an article headlined “Washington Post ban is latest battle in Trump’s war with the press,” in which were detailed more than a dozen instances of Trump denying or withdrawing media access. In several cases, reporters were removed from Trump events after asking a question or having published an article Trump didn’t like.
And Trump’s war on the media hardly stops with blocking access. Until he unceremoniously fired his campaign manager Corey Lewandowski for entirely different reasons, Trump was, as previously mentioned, willing and eager to defend Lewandowski against charges he assaulted a female reporter, and evidently had no issue with Lewandowski’s being accused of “pushing a CNN reporter who tried to ask the candidate a question; physically confronting an aide for a rival campaign in a post-debate spin room; publicly shouting threats over the phone at a restaurant; making sexual comments about female journalists; and calling up women in the campaign press corps late at night to make unwanted romantic advances.”
Trump himself has launched incredible personal attacks on members of the press, attacking journalists like Kelly and Tur; openly mocking disabled reporter Serge Kovaleski; ginning up outrage against the press at campaign events; and launching an all-out jeremiad against the media during a press conference, during which he called the press “sleazy” and “unbelievably dishonest.”
I love watching these poor, pathetic people (pundits) on television working so hard and so seriously to try and figure me out. They can't!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 12, 2016
Actually, he first said reporters are "the lowest form of life," but upgraded them instantly to "the lowest form of humanity"
Moving on up!
— Rebecca Sinderbrand (@sinderbrand) August 12, 2016
Wow, the failing @nytimes has not reported properly on Crooked's FBI release. They are at the back of the pack – no longer a credible source
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 4, 2016
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 2, 2016
Meanwhile, Trump’s running mate Pence once tried to launch “a state-run taxpayer-funded news outlet [to] make pre-written news stories available to Indiana media,” which independent press expert Jack Ronald described as “a ludicrous idea [which] is antithetical to the idea of an independent press.”
Ties to Russia
There have long been questions about some of Trump’s advisers’ ties to foreign governments. In particular, his former campaign co-chair Paul Manafort has built a career specializing in working for arms dealers, dictators, and foreign oligarchs. He was “for many years on the payroll of the Putin-backed former president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych.”
In this profile of Manafort, Franklin Foer documents his long-term relationship with Trump, which has existed in tandem with some of the most odious tyrants around the globe.
Further, as TPM’s Josh Marshall details, “Trump appears to have a deep financial dependence on Russian money from persons close to Putin. …There is also something between a non-trivial and a substantial amount of evidence suggesting Putin-backed financial support for Trump or a non-tacit alliance between the two men.”
Despite Trump’s business acumen being touted as his key qualification for the US presidency, it is the very lack of his skills as a businessman that has brought him to a point in which he depends on foreign cash – which may have critically compromised the Republican nominee for the presidency.
Meanwhile, as federal officials have come to believe that the Russians are attempting to influence the U.S. election (a view shared by New Yorker staff writer Adrian Chen who “discovered that Russian internet trolls — paid by the Kremlin to spread false information on the internet — have been behind a number of ‘highly coordinated campaigns’ to deceive the American public”), Trump and his campaign were further allying themselves with Russia and Russian hackers in troubling ways.
First, Trump’s aides successfully changed the Republican platform to be more pro-Putin, reneging on a promise to provide aid to the Ukrainians in their struggle against Russian aggression.
Then, following the WikiLeaks dump of hacked DNC emails, Donald promoted WikiLeaks, even as it became clear that the emails were likely provided by Russian hackers in order to influence the U.S. election, and more information emerged that Donald may have deep financial ties to the Russian agitators whose provocation has instigated an FBI investigation.
Trump also infamously invited Russian hackers to commit espionage against the U.S. government, prompting widespread criticism and expressions of deep distrust of Trump. Former CIA Chief Leon Panetta bluntly stated that it called into question Trump’s loyalty to the U.S. Former acting director of the CIA Michael Morrell wrote:
Donald J. Trump is not only unqualified for the job, but he may well pose a threat to our national security. President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia was a career intelligence officer, trained to identify vulnerabilities in an individual and to exploit them. That is exactly what he did early in the primaries. Mr. Putin played upon Mr. Trump’s vulnerabilities by complimenting him. He responded just as Mr. Putin had calculated.
In recent days, Trump has come under fire for praising Putin while attacking U.S. generals and for doing this: “Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump criticized U.S. foreign policy and the American political press corps Thursday during an interview on RT America, a state-owned Russian television network.”
Trump’s ties to Russia – whose media has long had an interest in Trump’s campaign – is one of the most disturbing and least probed issues in this election.
Enriching Himself, His Family, and Associates
Trump has used his campaign to funnel millions of dollars to his own companies and those of his children and associates:
Trump also appears to be selling campaign merchandise in a Trump corporate store:
For sale in the gift shop at Trump hotel in Vegas: Make America Great Again hats! Price: $30 pic.twitter.com/NkmPWJiRxT
— Nick Corasaniti (@NYTnickc) August 26, 2016
Because the proceeds from sales of campaign swag are considered campaign contributions, no one who is not an American citizens can purchase it, as foreign nationals “are prohibited from making any contributions or expenditures in connection with any election in the U.S.” So, unless employees at the Trump corporate store are checking the citizenship of every buyer, they may be in violation of campaign finance law.
What’s more likely, however, is that this isn’t technically being sold as campaign swag, even though it bears his campaign slogan. In other words: Trump may be tricking people into purchasing items they believe will fund his campaign, but instead goes directly into his pocket.
Trump has a long career of thieving and has built his wealth by being a conman who scamming and refusing to pay people. He once said, “It’s very possible that I could be the first presidential candidate to run and make money on it.”
Everything he does is for self-enrichment. Including running for president.
Just listen to Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway explain how the “little guy” has “suffered” at his hands:
Trump's current manager agrees that Trump built his wealth on the backs of poor and working people. She gets it. pic.twitter.com/lLYN0bUfPk
— Lovina Box (@lovinabox) August 19, 2016
Ghoulish Touchdown Dancing After Tragedies
Trump’s Twitter feed is a never-ending source of odious emanations, but rarely is he in more offensive form than following any kind of tragedy.
His first instinct after a terror attack or mass shooting is to do a touchdown dance, explicitly congratulating himself for being right or wondering when (other) people will “wake up” or “learn” or “get smart,” followed by the inevitable grave musings about how things are getting worse. Condolences and concern for the victims are invariably the last things on his mind.
After the attack in Brussels, after the attack in Orlando, after the attack in Turkey, after an attack in Baghdad, after the attack in San Bernardino, after the attack in Nice, after an airline disaster he wrongly presumed to be a terror attack, after the death of Nykea Aldridge… Trump’s reflexive response is to crow about how he alone is right in his dark vision of the dire state of the nation and world.
A person running for the United States presidency is given one of the most visible platforms on the planet. Trump has chosen to use that platform to respond to heinous acts of violence not with measured statesmanship, but as though he’s just run a football into the end zone.
As Hillary Clinton gravely observed: Trump makes everything about him, even “the killing of people.”
Lack of Transparency
Trump has repeatedly demonstrated hostility toward meaningful transparency, eschewing all disclosures that we have come to expect from presidential candidates in the modern era.
He refuses to release his taxes, giving ludicrous excuses about why he cannot release them.
Trump has also provided no visibility into the workings of the Donald J. Trump Foundation despite the fact it was used at least once to give a political contribution, in violation of federal tax law, to a campaign group connected to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi. At the time, Bondi “was considering whether to investigate fraud allegations against Trump University. She decided not to pursue the case.”
And then there is the issue of his healthcare disclosure, which consists of one laughably inadequate letter addressing his medical history and current health. This is the entirety of the medical report offered by Trump:
— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) December 14, 2015
Nearly every place we look into any aspect of Trump’s personal, professional, or political life, there is both behavior and rhetoric that, by any reasonable measure, should disqualify him from the U.S. presidency. Rarely does he seem inclined to conceal any of these things; to the contrary, he often brags about them.
So one can only imagine what sort of scandal and outrage lies within documents to which he refuses access.
Unfortunately we can’t count on the corporate media to press for answers. They’re busy hounding Hillary Clinton.