TRUMP’S LEGACY: Corruption, Misogyny, Racism
As Trump heads to the UK for his first official state visit, praising Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage, his history of corruption, misogyny, and racism will follow him overseas.
Trump’s history of corruption is far too extensive to document here, but even in the short time since he took office, he has built quite a legacy of self-dealing and shady business practices.
A recent review of filings made with the Federal Election Committee (FEC) found that Republican candidates and campaign committees have spent more than $4 million at Trump-owned properties since he was inaugurated in 2017.
That’s just a drop in the bucket, though.
According to the activist group Public Citizen, Trump has collected more than $15 million from government agencies and political organisations including the Pentagon, the National Security Council, and the Republican National Committee. This money, much of which came from the pockets of taxpayers, was spent at Trump’s restaurants, golf resorts, and luxury hotels.
This isn’t simply misspeaking — this is who Trump is.
Ethics watchdogs say many of these payments may violate the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, while an even greater concern is that Trump’s hotels have become a conduit for foreign money and backdoor lobbying.
In perhaps the most striking example, Trump’s family business has taken at least $250,000 in hotel fees alone from the Saudi Government during his presidency – and, coincidentally, his stance on Saudi Arabia has taken a 180-degree turn since he was a candidate, when he regularly talked tough about the Gulf nation. Today, he and his family are cosy with the Saudi royal family.
Trump has also used the office of the presidency to enrich himself through business deals and loans with China, construction projects in Argentina, building licenses in India, and many other shady financial deals that show a pattern of putting his personal interests before the public interest.
Trump’s misogyny was no secret when he announced his intentions to run for the presidency, and it has only become more blatant since he hit the campaign trail and took office as President.
Like his corruption and his racism, Trump’s legacy of misogyny is far too extensive to catalogue in a single article – or even an entire issue – but, I’ll attempt to provide a glimpse into how Trump’s misogyny has shaped his decisions as a man and, ultimately, as President.
Trump has repeatedly made it clear that he values women based on their sex appeal and physical appearance. In 2004, long before he was a presidential candidate, Trump admitted in his book How to Get Rich that the success of female contestants on his TV show The Apprentice was “dependent on their sex appeal”. Not long after becoming President, he showed that he still holds these same beliefs when – with the whole world watching – he awkwardly commented on the “physical shape” of Brigitte Macron, the first lady of France.
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This belief system explains why he so frequently invokes women’s appearance in his insults against them. Like a classic misogynist, Trump assumes that women, too, prioritise physical appearance above all else, and thus he believes that taking digs at the way a woman looks is the ultimate insult.
During his 2016 presidential campaign, he tried to discredit Carly Fiorina, his then-opponent in the Republican presidential primary, by sneering, “Look at that face! Would anyone vote for that?”
After becoming the GOP nominee, Trump launched one of the most sexist campaigns in modern American history. During the campaign, he referred to his opponent, Hillary Clinton, as a “nasty woman” and wrote in a tweet that if she couldn’t “satisfy” her husband, she couldn’t satisfy America – a reference to Bill Clinton’s extra-marital affair with Monica Lewinsky. In Trump’s mind, Hillary Clinton’s experience as a former senator and Secretary of State was worth nothing if she didn’t have the sex appeal he desired.
During his presidency, Trump has repeatedly been accused of silencing women with whom he has had extra-marital affairs, including the adult film star Stormy Daniels. When Daniels lost a defamation lawsuit against Trump, he celebrated in a tweet in which he referred to her as “horseface”.
Trump also infamously mocked the physical appearance of Dr Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who accused now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of sexually assaulting her when they were in high school. That same week, he lobbed an insult at a female reporter during a press conference, telling her: “I know you’re not thinking, you never do”.
Trump’s misogyny has also manifested as policy. One of the first actions Trump took as President was reinstating and dramatically expanding the “Global Gag Rule”, also known as the “Mexico City Policy”, which was first enacted by President Ronald Reagan but later repealed by President Barack Obama. The rule prohibits international organisations receiving US global health assistance from providing information, referrals, or services for legal abortion or advocating for access to abortion services in their country – even if they do it with their own money. The policy severely restricts access to healthcare for women in need, resulting in increased rates of unintended pregnancy, pregnancy complications, and maternal mortality.
The Trump administration has also rolled back the clock on women’s rights and reproductive rights at home, taking actions to imperil birth control coverage, restrict abortion access, eliminate funding for evidence-based sex education and pregnancy prevention programmes, cut federal funding for Planned Parenthood, make it harder for victims of campus sexual assault to get justice, and slash the United States Agency for International Development’s family planning budget, among other things.
Despite Trump’s claims of being the “least racist person that you’ve ever encountered”, his life tells quite a different story.
While his racist comments and support for white supremacists have made headlines in recent years, his legacy of racism goes back more than four decades. The list below is nowhere near complete, but it provides a brief look at the racism that has defined much of Trump’s adult life:
- In 1973, the US Department of Justice – under the leadership of the Nixon administration – sued the Trump Management Corporation for violating the Fair Housing Act after a federal investigation found evidence that Trump had refused to rent to black tenants and lied to black applicants about whether apartments were available.
- In 1980, Trump was accused of racial discrimination by a former employee who alleged that “[w]hen Donald and [then-wife] Ivana came to the casino, the bosses would order all the black people off the floor… They put us all in the back”.
- In 1992, the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino was ordered to pay a $200,000 fine after it was caught transferring black and women dealers off tables in order to appease a racist high-rolling gambler.
- In 2004, Trump fired Kevin Allen, a black contestant on The Apprentice for being too educated. The next year, he pitched an idea for a new season of the show that involved “creating a team of successful African Americans versus a team of successful whites”.
- In 2011, Trump launched the so-called “birther” conspiracy theory, alleging that Barack Obama – the first Black president in American history – was not actually born in the US. Though Trump has stopped talking about the conspiracy theory in public, he reportedly still brings it up in private conversations.
This laid the groundwork for Trump’s campaign, which was one of the most racist presidential campaigns in modern American history. He infamously launched his bid by calling Mexicans “rapists” who are “bringing crime” and “bringing drugs” into the country. Much of his campaign was built on his proposal to construct a physical wall to keep Mexican immigrants out of America.
Throughout his campaign and into his presidency, Trump has repeatedly refused or hesitated to condemn white supremacists who express support for him and his policies, and he has frequently shared tweets from known white supremacists and neo-Nazis.
Trump responded by suggesting that the women making the allegations weren’t attractive enough to sexually assault.
After a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville resulted in the death of anti-racist protester Heather Heyer in August 2017, Trump repeatedly said that “many sides” and “both sides” were to blame for the violence – assigning moral equivalence to violent white supremacists and the counter-protestors who showed up to oppose their racism. Trump also said there were “some very fine people” among the white supremacists.
This pattern has continued throughout Trump’s presidency. He once referred to the entirety of Africa as a “shithole”, mocked the horrific act of ethnic cleansing known as the Trail of Tears, celebrated the pro-slavery Confederacy, and made dehumanising immigrants a routine act at his rallies and speeches. This isn’t simply misspeaking — this is who Trump is.