Donald Trump fueled his presidential bid with one central idea: that he alone cared about the American working class. He alone understood their struggle. He alone would fight for honest, hard-working Average Joe. To the coal miner, the construction worker, the truck driver, Trump was a savior – a knight in shining armor, come to kick Wall Street out of the White House and bring back good middle-class jobs from wherever they ran off to. He wasn’t like these Washington elites, only worried about lining their own pockets and making their billionaire banker friends even richer at the expense of American taxpayers. Trump wasn’t like those phony corporate fat-cats – Trump was one of us.
I’ll just leave this here…
I’m sorry to burst the comforting bubble of Trump-mania, but here’s the hard truth: Donald Trump is not one of us. He is nothing like us, and he never was. He does not care about us, and he never did. Donald J. Trump was born a millionaire and handed countless advantages most of us could never dream of. In his privileged lifetime, he lied, bullied, and boasted his way into business success (unless you count all the failure), often by screwing over honest, hard-working tradesmen and small business owners… you know, people like us. For decades, Donald Trump has lived a life of gold-plated excess, secure in his lavish Manhattan tower far above the common peasants. His friends and associates are billionaires, Wall Street bankers, and industry tycoons. He travels the world at will on his private jet. His kids go to $47,000-a-year private schools. Is this sounding like your life? Sure doesn’t sound like mine. I repeat: Donald Trump is not one of us, and he never was.
Before I continue, I want to make a couple of things clear: first, I say “one of us,” not “one of you,” because I come from a blue-collar, red-state background myself. I was born and raised in a small south-Georgia town of about 15,000 people. My dad was an auto mechanic for 40+ years, turning wrenches in the sweltering shop my Grandpa opened in the 1940s when he got back from the war. My mom was a social worker and substitute teacher, doing noble work for little pay. I have three siblings and we all four grew up in a trailer on a farm outside of town, well below the poverty line although we didn’t know it at the time. I know the life of blue-collar families in out-of-the-way places. I know how it feels to be marginalized, ignored by politicians, and denied the advantages of the wealthy and powerful. I know the anger of being stuck and hopeless, the feeling that the system is rigged and there’s no way up or out. I understand how people like us could be desperate for a savior – someone to take a sledgehammer to the carefully guarded structures of corporate greed and political cronyism, and maybe, just maybe, finally give the rest of us a fighting chance to succeed.
That desperation is all it took. Donald Trump saw middle-class America’s frustration and anger, and the consummate con man smelled blood. The billionaire with the solid gold ego knew he could feed his narcissism endlessly with the cheers of adoring crowds, and all he had to do was tell them what they wanted to hear. So he splashed on some cologne, straightened his red power tie, and descended the gilded stairs to greet his conquest, armed with his best pickup lines: drain the swamp, lock up the corrupt politicians, get Wall Street out of Washington, I care about you! Sure, they were tired, transparent lines, but Trump’s target was drunk on the adrenaline of rallies and rhetoric. He knew we’d fall for it in the end, because we wanted it to be true.
Of course, the morning after brought some unpleasant realities crashing home. After winning the electoral vote in the 2016 election, Trump started backtracking on his campaign promises faster than a one-night stand explaining why he actually couldn’t meet for lunch like he said because, see, there’s this big meeting he forgot about… Remember the chants of “drain the swamp?” Remember how Trump was going to kick Goldman Sachs back across the Potomac and free politics from evil corporate influence? Yeah, about that… the swamp is currently being flooded. Take a look at the backgrounds of the people Trump has hired to be in his closest circle, including heads of the Departments of Commerce and the Treasury:
- Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin: 2nd-generation partner at Goldman Sachs, Dune Capital Management, OneWest Bank, etc.
- Chief Strategist Steve Bannon: banker at Goldman Sachs.
- Transition adviser Anthony Scaramucci: banker at Goldman Sachs, SkyBridge Capital.
- Commerce Secretary nominee Wilbur Ross: billionaire investor and Rothschild & Co. banker.
- Possible budget director Gary Cohn: current COO and President of Goldman Sachs.
When you add to this the glaringly obvious fact that Donald Trump never, ever, does anything that isn’t to the benefit of Donald Trump, the unfortunate picture becomes clear: you’ve been had. He fooled you. Trump promised you the moon, got you caught up in the feverish excitement of his rallies, and sold you a vision of himself as a blue-collar champion who only cared about your needs. Now that he got what he was after, it’s back to his same old ways – stuffing his pockets and enriching his billionaire buddies, high-fiving the fellas in his infamous locker room, preening in the mirror and leaving his tacky little fingerprints everywhere. He probably doesn’t even remember your name by now.
But don’t beat yourself up. We all get tricked from time to time, mostly when we’re feeling especially vulnerable. But there’s hope, and as they say, revenge is a dish best served cold. Here’s what you do: first, accept what happened and acknowledge that Donald Trump used you. Don’t defend him – it’s tempting to save face by sticking up for the guy who tricked you, but it’s not worth lying to yourself. Second, resolve that you will never let it happen again. Third, spend the next four years living the best life you can – get in shape, advance your career, volunteer more, work on your own happiness and forge better relationships with the people in your life. Then, when you see Donald on the street in 2020 and he tries once again to charm his way into your good graces, you can look him square in the eye and tell him to go peddle his lies and false promises somewhere else. Because the fact is, we – America – are just too good for Donald Trump.