Opinion: The Party of Broken Promises


Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

The Republican Party opened their convention last week by painting itself as the only remaining defender of “The Land of Promise”: This tagline was also used to praise President Donald Trump as a leader who has fulfilled his original campaign promises. The idea that President Trump has honored his word could not be further from the truth: since Trump’s inauguration in 2017, small businesses have struggled, troops have remained overseas, and infrastructure construction has stagnated. Trump’s disastrous presidency deserves a thorough examination as he seeks reelection.

Contrary to what the RNC’s lineup of token small business-owning speakers claimed this week, many Trump policies have favored the affluent over small business owners. Tax cuts advertised as assisting small business owners were far more beneficial to the uber-wealthy; these cuts also impaired Obamacare and other social services that helped middle class Americans. As the COVID-19 pandemic devastated small businesses, Trump touted emergency PPP loans as a safety net for small businesses. Instead, these lendings went disproportionately to big businesses and chain franchises.

At the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Trump insisted that he would “never send our (soldiers) into battle unless necessary,” especially in the Middle East. Trump may have brought some soldiers home from Iran and Afghanistan, but his foreign policy dealings have deteriorated nuclear treaties and teased the possibility of intervention in Iran and North Korea. Trump’s military promises have been fulfilled in the short term, but they will likely exact long-term damage.

Trump’s 2016 campaign promises included a pledge to renovate and construct national infrastructure like roads, bridges, and federal buildings. These plans, which would supposedly be funded in a series of “infrastructure weeks,” were intended to increase national efficiency and create new jobs. However, each infrastructure week in the last three years has been derailed by controversy at the White House, resulting in limited construction across the country. Only in 2020, with another election looming, has Trump shown any real interest in revitalizing the nation’s infrastructure.

Most infamously, Trump guaranteed that the federal government would erect a “big, beautiful wall” along the country’s southern border in order to prevent unlawful immigration from Mexico. The border wall, which has not been built in any meaningful capacity, has caused more problems than solutions: just this week, former Trump advisor Steve Bannon was arrested on charges of fraud in connection to “We Build the Wall,” a private fundraiser to assist wall construction.

Trump’s promise to “drain the swamp,” a slogan collectively referring to liberal politicians and government officials whom he lambasted as deceitful and hypocritical deep-state operatives, now appears to be his most outrageous lie. Hypocrisy has been one of the only constants in the Trump White House, and it has never been more brazen than it was at the Republican National Convention this week. After four years of deceit, corruption, and ineptitude from the Trump administration, it seemed unlikely that the Republican National Convention could further clarify the correct choice in November’s elections, but it did.

Conservative speakers placed special emphasis on Republicans’ defense of “equal opportunity,” a not-so-subtle attack on affirmative action practices. Their speeches repeatedly praised school choice laws, which allow parents to choose between multiple options for their children’s education. While school choice may provide greater opportunity for some, they also limit possibilities for others; fewer students means fewer public funds in neighborhood public schools, and young students who do not have the individual agency to take advantage of school choice are left behind in failing systems.

Trump now touts the same “law and order” rhetoric formerly employed by Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan. His recent speeches characterize cities like Portland and Chicago as full of “lawless anarchists” in an attempt to convince suburban voters that the country requires authoritative leadership to quell violence. The consequences of previous “law and order” presidents still linger in American cities today: Nixon’s “War on Drugs” instigated America’s mass incarceration crisis, and Reagan’s massive tax cuts and enabling of drug trading inside Black and Brown neighborhoods devastated socioeconomically marginalized communities. Trump uses “law and order” as a dog whistle to prejudiced white voters who have been indoctrinated with fear of Black Americans.

Rather than defending the constitutionally protected right to peaceably assemble, Trump and other Republican officials around the nation have vilified and prosecuted Americans protesting against systemic injustice. He has demeaned peaceful protesters as “thugs” and “looters,” seeking to obscure their motives and distract from the systemic injustice that precipitated their protests. It is now apparent that when Republicans promised to defend the constitution, they were lying through their teeth to the American people. 

Perhaps the most egregious instance of hypocrisy from the RNC was Pam Bondi’s speech decrying Joe Biden’s “nepotism” toward his son Hunter. Bondi’s speech wholly ignored the extent to which family members of prominent White House officials have benefitted from his presidency. Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner are both senior advisors at the White House and reported over $36 million in income in 2019; Rudy Giuliani’s son works as a “sports liaison” for the Trump administration; Donald Trump Jr. has profited massively from international business deals under the Trump family name.

The 2020 Presidential Election is a political election, but it also serves as a moral referendum for the American people. President Trump is dishonest, overpromising, and totalitarian; he is the wrong president for the contemporary United States. Now that the Senate has turned a blind eye to even his worst offenses, the American people are the only entity that can remove him from the presidency. The Republican National Convention is another reminder that this November, all Americans will share responsibility in voting President Trump and his allies out of office.