It’s 5:57 am, and Donald Trump is poised to become the next President of the United States. I, like the majority of people I know, was not prepared for this scenario. FiveThirtyEight cautiously told me there would be a Hillary Clinton victory, and outlets like The New York Times’ Upshot and The Huffington Post forecasted the night with almost absolute certainty.
Polls aside, I had faith in the American people. After two years of watching a blatantly racist, misogynistic bigot rise to power, it was time to show the world that our country was not full of similarly flawed individuals. Instead, we followed in the footsteps of Brexiteers and made a horrifically irreversible decision.
I sympathise with voters who supported Trump because he promised them a better America. There is no doubt that our political system is flawed, consumed as it is by gridlock and partisanship. Trump lured in disillusioned voters by promising a return to traditional values, and supporters’ faith in this promise overwhelmed the controversy surrounding their candidate.
I am less sympathetic towards those who had such faith in the dream of a new America that they overlooked the accusations of sexual assault, plethora of racist comments and general disbelief that surrounded everything Trump said.
However, as one of my close friends explained, he and his family prioritised political concerns over Trump’s character. Regardless of whether they agreed with Trump’s divisive opinions, they were going to vote for him over someone whose platform was anathema to everything they believed in.
As I see it, the problem with this view (and the blind faith of supporters who truly believe Trump is going to make America great again) is that almost all of Trump’s campaign promises are dangerously flawed. Once you take away the political platforms on which many Trump voters built their support, you are left with an unqualified, irrational demagogue who is unfit to lead a country.
My perspective on Trump’s platform stems from my summer internship at a personal finance publication in Washington, DC. I was assigned to write an article comparing Clinton and Trump’s views on key financial issues and spent several weeks investigating both candidates’ platforms. Eventually, I compiled a 100-page document detailing everything from tax plans to views on healthcare and global trade.
What immediately struck me was the sheer lack of structure that characterised Trump’s campaign. His official website only listed about six policy areas (as you might expect, they revolved around his beloved wall, his ridiculous plan to cut taxes and reduce federal revenue by trillions of dollars, and his hatred of the Affordable Care Act). Finding a clear position on other topics proved almost impossible because of Trump’s tendency to vacillate.
The information I did find highlighted Trump’s shocking incompetence. His initial tax plan, which has since been revised, featured giant cuts across the board. Everyone wants to pay less taxes, right? Unfortunately, a decrease in taxes equates to a decrease in government revenue. In fact, the Tax Policy Center estimated that Trump’s policies would reduce federal revenue by $9.5 trillion over the next decade and increase the national debt by almost 80 per cent of GDP by 2036. Comparatively, Clinton’s plan would increase federal revenue by $1.1 trillion over the next decade.
[pullquote]In almost every realm of public policy, Trump’s rousing rhetoric is just that: rhetoric. The plans he has proposed to fix our supposedly broken nation reveal a knowledge of economics worse than a high school AP economics student.[/pullquote]
In the realm of global trade, Trump proposed placing significant tariffs on Mexico and China. As Moody Analytics pointed out, this would invite retaliatory tariffs and eventually drive all of the countries involved into recession.
You don’t even want to get me started on immigration. Remember Trump’s plan to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants? The American Action Forum found that it would cost $400 billion, and that’s only if deportations were stretched out over 20 years. If mass deportation won’t work, you can always count on the wall, right? Trump estimated that construction would cost about $10 to $12 billion, but experts interviewed by The New York Times cited a figure closer to $26 billion. This isn’t even factoring in yearly maintenance costs and the logistical nightmare of organising workers to build a massive wall.
I could continue listing examples of Trump’s ridiculous proposals, but I think you get the idea. In almost every realm of public policy, Trump’s rousing rhetoric is just that: rhetoric. The plans he has proposed to fix our supposedly broken nation reveal a knowledge of economics worse than a high school AP economics student. Trump’s proposals entail massive spending increases with few (and evasive) plans to increase federal revenue. At the end of his term, the likely outcome is an enormous rise in debt, widespread economic instability and a country viewed as a joke by the rest of the world.
If Trump’s disgusting social views were not enough to discourage supporters, I would’ve hoped that his actual policy flaws would do the job. How can you justify voting for someone who is not only a vile human being, but an ineffectual, ill-informed politician? If your only reason for supporting Trump was because you thought his platform would create a stronger America, you are wrong. Just look at the numbers.
Yesterday morning, I woke up ready to celebrate the election of the US’ first female president. I supported Clinton not just because she is the alternative to Trump, but because she is a qualified, effective politician with decisive plans. Instead of benefitting from these plans, our country is about to welcome the most unqualified president-elect in history. Congratulations, America. As Bette Davis said in All About Eve, “Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.”