How will future historians rate the Donald Trump presidency? It now looks as though he will rank either immediately above or below James Buchanan, who stood by idly while the South seceded from the Union and our nation was plunged into a bloody civil war. A case could be made for either Trump or Buchanan as the worst president we have ever had.
Ranking Donald Trump’s Presidency
But even after three years of Donald Trump’s presidency, it did not seem likely that he would be considered one of the worst presidents. Indeed, it was conceivable that he would not have even been ranked in the bottom ten.
Trump enjoyed comparing himself with Abraham Lincoln, perhaps making him the only the only American who held that opinion. Even heavyweight boxing champion Mohammed Ali, who liked to proclaim himself “the greatest,” never compared himself to the Great Emancipator.
Three years into Trump’s term, our economy – although not “the greatest in history,” was in its eleventh year of uninterrupted expansion – an all-time record – and his reelection prospects looked quite bright. But then came COVID.
Although he had been made well aware of the imminent outbreak of this deadly pandemic in January of last year, he wasted precious weeks issuing pollyannaish reassurances that the virus would soon disappear “into thin air” with the warmer weather.
Meeting this challenge would have been one of the finest moments of the American presidency. Instead, largely to placate his most avid supporters, he sabotaged the efforts of federal agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases to stop the spread of the pandemic. And Trump’s disgusting treatment of Dr. Anthony Fauci, while promoting his own cockamamie COVID treatment schemes, sabotaged the work of our nation’s leading epidemiologist.
Failure To Deal With The Pandemic
On a personal level, Trump discouraged Americans from wearing masks and social distancing, as well as tracing people who were in direct contact with those who were infected and requiring those infected to self-quarantine. He also opposed the shutting down of schools and businesses to avert the spreading of the virus. He even held indoor social events at the White House as well as giant political rallies that turned into super-spreaders, leaving in their wake thousands of infected attendees.
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During the Second World War, the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, promised only “blood, sweat and tears.” But our self-proclaimed “wartime president” tried to curry favor with his ardent followers by telling them that they could just continue living normal lives. Wearing masks and social distancing were for sissies – not real men.
Trump’s utter failure to deal with the pandemic would not only destroy his reelection prospects, but bring to the surface his totalitarian political instincts including urging Republican controlled states to pass voter suppression laws and overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election.
By continually questioning the legitimacy of our elections, he has managed to sow doubt among tens of millions of voters about the likelihood of fair elections. Were he to have returned to the White House, he might well have finished the job and completely destroyed our democratic system of government.
The Capitol Hill
Trump’s role in stirring up masses of his followers in an attempt to prevent Congress from certifying the results of the 2020 presidential election was the worst single thing he did to destroy our democracy. Leading an insurrection was not only a treasonable offense, but surely the worst day of a failed presidency.
When future historians study Trump’s presidency, they will surely hold him largely responsible not only for the COVID-related deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans and the undermining our democratic form of government, but also for the promotion of white supremacy, his opposition to taking measures to combat global warming, his trade war with China, and the damage he did to our relationship with many other nations, especially our NATO allies.
What was especially remarkable was the depth of depravity that Trump demonstrated again in again in his dealings with political allies and enemies alike. Perhaps the most outrageous example was not disclosing his testing positively for COVID last fall, days before his first presidential debate with Democratic candidate Joe Biden.
During that time, he hosted crowded White House events, while neither social distancing nor wearing a face mask, cheerfully carrying out his role as super-spreader in chief. Not wanting to have the debate canceled, he knowingly put the lives of hundreds of people at risk.
The tragedy of the Trump presidency is really two-fold. Much of the damage he did to our nation is not only impossible to measure, but may be irreversible. Now let’s consider the damage that our sociopath -in-chief did to himself.
Putting aside his own ineptitude, what brought down Trump’s presidency – not to mention his place in history – was the COVID pandemic. Much of the tragedy of his presidency was his disastrous handling of our nation’s response to this challenge. So, watch it James Buchanan: You may be losing your place in history to an even bigger presidential failure.