The True Legacy of Donald Trump
More will be forgotten about Donald Trump than remembered. His involvement in scandal after scandal since before he became President has made it impossible to keep up. Forgotten will be the lies about the crowd size at his inauguration and throwing paper towels to desperate Puerto Ricans after their island was devastated by Hurricane Maria. Remembered will be his caging of brown children, being MIA during the first several months of a pandemic and inciting a riot at the Capitol.
Most Presidents, including Trump, begin thinking about their legacies before they leave office. They try to shape their accomplishments, putting the best spin on them, accentuating the positive. In Trump’s mind, the border wall segments that did get built is a plus, though Mexico didn’t pay for it. He’ll think he’s the first to get really tough on China, though his trade war cost America trillions. Ironically, one of Trump’s strengths was that he appealed to a group of Americans that previously felt left out. For four years, he governed by only considering his base, which divided the nation more than since the Civil War.
When it’s all said and done, what Donald J. Trump will be remembered for is his unabashed advancement of white supremacy and spewing hatred instead of unity. It’s important to acknowledge that he didn’t invent the latent racism in the hearts of a much higher percentage of Americans than we publicly admit. Trump made it acceptable to openly be racists, throw the hoods away, and shout in public. “You will not replace us.” as they did in Charlottesville, Virginia. By January 6, 2021, Trump followers more resembled villagers with torches chasing the Frankenstein monster than a political party.
Trump brought white nationalists into the White House, where they advised him (Steve Bannon), wrote his speeches (Stephen Miller), and developed his immigration policy (Stephen Miller again). He turned his first Attorney General (Jeff Sessions) loose on removing federal supervision of local and state police forces. Sessions turned up the dial on mass incarceration. He instituted a policy to cage brown children and separated them from their families, and like Trump, lied about it when the details started to come out.
His second Attorney General (Bill Barr) used federal troops to attack citizens who dared protest the murder of unarmed Black men by police and made sure no federal charges were filed against the officers that killed them. He made it known that the rule of law was a one-way street. A week after Barr resigned, Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen announced no charges against the officers who shot and killed twelve-year-old Tamir Rice in a city park. Rice was shot within two seconds of the officers arriving. The Justice Department statement said they “didn’t condone the shooting, but there was no crime.”
Trump’s final ninety days in office were spent trying to suppress the votes of minority voters. His lawyers tried to throw out entirely the votes of predominantly Black cities like Detroit, Atlanta, and Philadelphia, for no other reason than he lost. He made claims of fraud that he introduced no evidence for in court. He openly appealed to white voters to “save our country,” which he repeated before sending a mob to attack the Capitol. It was initially reported that some in the mob wanted to capture and assassinate some of Trump’s political enemies. Federal prosecutors later reversed that statement saying there “was no proof” at this time. Rioters were found with zip ties like those used by police for handcuffs, Molotov cocktails, and guns that are illegal on the Capitol grounds; make your own judgment.
Trump has a few Black friends; it’s true. They are universally celebrities he’s mingled with over the years, or in Herschel Walker's case, Trump was literally his owner when he played for the USFL’s New Jersey Generals. That didn’t keep him from refusing to rent to Black people in New York, having their applications marked “C for colored” to deny them later. He took out a full-page ad in the New York Times demanding the deaths of the Central Park Five, who were later found innocent of the brutal rape and beating of a white woman. Even after they were cleared by DNA evidence, Trump continued to claim they were guilty. Trump said all Black people are from “shithole countries” and advised some American-born Black politicians to “go back to their country.” Trump only divides and never unites; that will be his legacy.
The days since Trump has been banned from Twitter and Facebook have been relatively peaceful. The news is still all Trump all the time, as much of the last four years. There’s no doubt he’ll go out with a bang and not a whimper. Internet chatter suggests potentially violent protests at all fifty state capitols. Trump will have the satisfaction of getting the last laugh at his inauguration crowd larger than Joe Biden’s. Due to the coronavirus and security provisions necessitated by Trump followers, the Biden inaugural will still be outdoors but almost empty of people. We’ll see what damage is done in his name as his white supremacist following has only grown after their show of force at the Capitol.
Not that it’s any better, but Trump’s legacy as a promoter of white supremacy and a divider will soon be distracted from as a huge number of civil and criminal cases are litigated against him. Trump is the first American President to have been impeached twice and maybe the first to go to jail. It couldn’t happen to a more appropriate guy.