Introduction
Part 1/5

Each of us can all recall times when our country was “great.” When we achieved unimaginable feats of engineering and technology. When we fought--and won--wars for moral reasons. When we passed laws that admitted our shortcomings and dedicated ourselves to righting our wrongs. When we worked together with our neighbors to make the world a better place and when our leaders sought to unite us, however imperfectly. The President’s primary argument for a second term is that he has made America great, and that he must remain in power to keep America great.

Over the next two weeks, however, we will show that Donald Trump’s America was never great. We will argue that this administration has eroded our nation’s healthcare infrastructure and deepened economic inequality. We will argue that the President’s foreign policy has failed to achieve its goals, and that our adversaries are stronger today than they were in 2016. And, perhaps most significantly, we will argue that the President’s leadership has undermined the most important ingredient to national greatness: a united population.

Healthcare
Part 2/5

As we’ve mentioned, it’s easy to remember when the United States was ‘great’. From winning the Revolutionary War against a military juggernaut in the United Kingdom to defeating the USSR in the Space Race, the United States has found itself exemplifying greatness. For a country as ‘great’ as the United States is, we lag far behind many other world leaders when it comes to providing healthcare for our citizens. President Trump has condemned the Affordable Care Act and ran on the platform of repealing and replacing the ACA with “Healthcare Reform to Make America Great Again.” It’s been nearly 4 years now. Has our nation’s healthcare been made ‘great’ again?

Let’s start with the Affordable Care Act, signed into law by President Obama in 2010. According to Reuters, nearly 24 million Americans are insured thanks to the plan as of 2019. Over 70 million Americans are enrolled in the ACA-based Medicaid program according to Statista. Trump, in his never ending war against the common man, continues to urge the Supreme Court to strike down the plan, most recently on June 26, 2020, in the teeth of a pandemic that the nation was unprepared for. This gross negligence — to take healthcare away from people with no plan in place — is inexcusable. Let’s take a look at President Trump’s thin record on healthcare. Since Trump took office:

  • the rate of uninsured US Adults has risen every quarter;
  • transgender health protections have been rolled back (under the Health Care Nondiscrimination Regulation in the ACA);
  • Republicans blocked Medicare expansion, meaning thousands will go insured during the Covid-19 outbreak (a disease that disproportionately affects minorities in the US).

Trump has talked for four years of how Trumpcare would be ‘bigger and better’ than the ACA ever was. It’s been four years. There is no new plan, only newly uninsured and unprotected Americans. Why is universal healthcare such an outlandish topic of discussion when democracies around the world offer it?

It’s simple: Trump does not care about your healthcare. He never has. He only wants to undo what Obama started and it does not matter the lives lost in the process.

Economy
Part 3/5

It’s no secret that, before COVID-19, many of the metrics used to assess the economy were in the green. GDP growth was positive, unemployment was low, jobs were being created, and wages were increasing. Obviously, this is all good, but it still leaves us wondering: is this better than other presidents? Is this as good as we were promised?

Trump promised that he would be “the greatest jobs president that God ever created.” Trump so far has had a monthly gain of 191,000 jobs, compared to Obama’s 217,000 per month in the 4 years previous to Trump’s presidency. Trump promised a GDP growth rate of 4% to 6%, but we have only seen a growth of 2.4%, 2.9%, and 2.3% from 2017 to 2019, compared to Obama’s 2.5%, 2.9%, and 1.6% from 2014 to 2016. Trump promised to reduce the US’s trade deficit, yet it increased by $121 billion or 24%, comparing 2019 with 2016. Lastly, Trump promised to eliminate the US debt over eight years in office. That’s a bit of a bold claim, but even if it was just hyperbole and he just meant that he would decrease the deficit to 0, Trump has increased the debt from $19.9 trillion to $23 trillion, the fastest increase in the debt of any president.

Furthermore, who benefits from Trump’s growth? Two years after Trump’s tax cut, it has been seen that 60% of the tax savings have gone to the top 20% of income earners. Tax revenues from corporations have dropped 31% in the first year of the cut, debunking Trump’s claim that the tax cut would pay for itself. Instead, records were set in the amount of money that companies were spending for stock buybacks, money that these companies stated would instead be spent on worker raises and bonuses. After the passage of the tax cuts, it should be clear whose side Trump is on.

In conclusion, before this year, most economists would agree that the economy was doing well. But, most economists would also agree that Trump was dealt a pretty good hand. Obviously, all of this analysis ignores the reality of COVID-19 and how devastating that has been, but that will be looked at separately. This is all just enough to wonder where our economy would be headed with anyone else as president.

Sources and references:

https://www.factcheck.org/2020/01/trumps-numbers-january-2020-update/
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-45827430
https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/02/20/fewer-americans-view-deficit-reduction-as-a-top-priority-as-the-nations-red-ink-increases/
https://www.epi.org/publication/state-of-american-wages-2018/
https://www.factcheck.org/2020/02/factchecking-the-state-of-the-union-3/
https://thehill.com/opinion/white-house/496132-the-economy-slowed-under-trump-his-inept-pandemic-response-ensured-its
https://www.thebalance.com/trump-plans-to-reduce-national-debt-4114401
https://www.epi.org/publication/state-of-american-wages-2018/
https://www.npr.org/2019/12/20/789540931/2-years-later-trump-tax-cuts-have-failed-to-deliver-on-gops-promises

Foreign Policy
Part 4/5

President Trump’s foreign policy has failed to achieve its goals, and our adversaries — North Korea, Iran, China, and Russia — are stronger today than they were when the President took office. Trump is pursuing a “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran and North Korea to force the regimes to give up their nuclear programs. In both cases, the US has enacted strict sanctions regimes. In Iran, US sanctions target Iranian oil, elites, and state finances in an effort to end the regime’s nuclear and missile programs. In North Korea, US sanctions target the financial, diplomatic, energy, and trade sectors, and executive orders have enabled sanctions against any third party working with North Korea. Sanctions are intended to bring about rapid denuclearization and an end to the regime’s missile program. In both cases, sanctions are paired with Twitter threats, military displays, and, in the case of North Korea, a series of face-to-face meetings between Trump and Kim Jong Un.

By no measure has “maximum pressure” succeeded in either Iran or North Korea. Rather, North Korea and Iran have advanced their programs on Trump’s watch, and are stronger today than they were on January 20, 2016. Since May 2018, when Trump withdrew the US from the Iran nuclear deal negotiated by the Obama administration, Iran has:

  • Increased its stockpile of weapons-grade nuclear material by 723%;
  • Significantly expanded its capacity to produce enriched uranium and plutonium;
  • Attacked US forces in Iraq with a barrage of ballistic missiles.

Since “maximum pressure” was applied to North Korea, the regime has:

  • Tested 43 ballistic missiles;
  • Test detonated a thermonuclear device;
  • Announced that it will mass produce warheads and missiles.

While not clearly documented, it is at least possible to piece together the Administration’s various statements and actions into the “maximum pressure” campaign. There is, however, little such coherence in Trump’s China policy, and even less in his Russia policy. With regard to China, Trump has paired heavy tariffs with “tough” talk in an effort to stop China from “raping” or “ripping off” the US. In short, Trump has launched a trade war with China, the goals of which are broad, including ending chronic trade deficits, delivering a new trade deal, and bringing manufacturing jobs back to the US. Toward Russia, the administration has shown no clear policy goals or tools, oscillating between praising Vladimir Putin and implementing targeted sanctions.

Trump’s China policy has failed to deliver results. And the administration has failed to check the nefarious actions of either China or Russia. Since the President took office:

  • The US-China trade deficit initially increased, before decreasing to its original size;
  • US exports to China have fallen every year since 2017, and manufacturing jobs have not returned;
  • China has continued its nefarious cyber activities, all but taken over Hong Kong, and continued to militarize the South China Sea;
  • Russia continues its illegal occupation of Crimea;
  • Russia continues to use its cyber capabilities to interfere in US elections;
  • Russia has allegedly paid bounties to the Taliban in exchange for the killing of US soldiers.

As with the “maximum pressure” campaign, Trump’s muddled China and Russia policies have failed to achieve their goals, and have allowed both revisionist powers to continue to gain strength. The President’s foreign policy is a lot of tough talk, with little to no actual results.

Sources and references:

https://www.state.gov/maximum-pressure-campaign-on-the-regime-in-iran/
https://www.heritage.org/defense/event/after-the-deal-new-iran-strategy
https://www.38north.org/2019/11/rnephew111519/
https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-president-trump-national-assembly-republic-korea-seoul-republic-korea/
https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/president-donald-j-trumps-summit-meeting-prime-minister-shinzo-abe/
https://www.state.gov/briefing-on-the-situation-on-the-korean-peninsula/
https://www.npr.org/2017/04/28/525766904/transcript-npr-interviews-secretary-of-state-rex-tillerson
https://docs.house.gov/meetings/FA/FA00/20180523/108353/HHRG-115-FA00-Wstate-PompeoM-20180523.pdf
https://qz.com/1107662/hr-mcmaster-is-making-war-with-north-korea-sound-inevitable/
https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/president-donald-j-trump-ending-united-states-participation-unacceptable-iran-deal/
https://www.iaea.org/sites/default/files/18/06/gov2018-24.pdf
https://apnews.com/40f58d4d8114a774c7771a68345d6b0f
https://www.iaea.org/sites/default/files/19/06/gov2019-21.pdf
https://www.iaea.org/sites/default/files/19/09/govinf2019-10.pdf
https://www.azernews.az/region/157272.html
https://apnews.com/bc0bbdeb85e34b3f92ba57b0f99f0516
https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-51028954
https://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/dprkchron
https://www.38north.org/2017/09/nuke090317/
https://www.ncnk.org/node/1427
https://www.politico.com/blogs/2016-gop-primary-live-updates-and-results/2016/05/trump-china-rape-america-222689
https://www.bbc.com/news/election-us-2016-35906493
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/business/wp/2018/03/02/trump-insists-trade-wars-are-good-and-easy-to-win-after-vowing-new-tariffs/
https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2019/03/13/donald-trump-vowed-fix-trade-deficits-record-high-editorials-debates/3083731002/
https://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/29/us/politics/donald-trump-trade-speech.html
https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/16/politics/donald-trump-vladimir-putin-summit/index.html
https://thehill.com/opinion/international/472534-trumps-russia-scorecard
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/05/business/economy/trump-trade.html
https://www.uschina.org/sites/default/files/2020_state_export_report_full_report_1.pdf
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/10/us/politics/coronavirus-china-cyber-hacking.html
https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2020/07/hong-kong-national-security-law-10-things-you-need-to-know/
https://www.the-american-interest.com/2020/07/17/the-end-of-chinas-peaceful-rise/
https://foreignbrief.com/daily-news/putin-to-visit-russian-occupied-crimea/
https://www.npr.org/2020/01/22/798186093/election-security-boss-threats-to-2020-are-now-broader-more-diverse
https://www.npr.org/2020/07/10/889476368/cited-in-many-operations-russias-gru-is-suspected-in-afghan-bounty-case

A Nation Divided
Part 5/5

At this point in our nation’s history it is easy to see that we are more divided than ever before. Gone are the days of unity and unbridled patriotism witnessed in the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks. Our nation was wounded and in mourning but we came together to lend support in any way possible. Gone is the togetherness seen after every major natural disaster that plagued cities and states across the country. Now, even in the midst of one of the biggest health crises in our history, our nation is divided.

The mentality behind discussions of almost any topic has become “us versus them.” It makes one stop to wonder how we have come to be so divisive. Former Defense Secretary James Mattis, a retired Marine general and military professional for 50 years, explained the source of this current divide, “Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people-does not even pretend to. Instead he tries to divide us.” Even before being elected, Donald Trump encouraged his supporters to believe that liberals, Democrats, and any one supporting progressive ideas were working to undermine our constitution, to destroy the fundamental ideas and beliefs of our founding fathers. He encourages his followers to adopt abusive phrases to make a mockery of his Democratic opponents and their supporters made apparent by his reposting of tweets from John K. Stahl which referred to Stacy Abrams as “Shamu” and labelled Hillary Clinton as “skank”. He consistently praises those who act or speak against liberal ideologies and marks Democrats as the enemy. He sits idly by as his supporters and congressmen make racist remarks and even contributes himself (referring to the coronavirus as the “Kung flu” at his June 2020 rally). Trump has promoted outright violence against Democrats which is evident from his sharing of a video from a supporter who says, “The only good Democrat is a dead Democrat.”

Through his numerous rallies, television appearances, and public statements Donald Trump has proven time and again that his goal is to divide us. The president gives preferential treatment to conservative media outlets providing them with carefully curated statements and interviews while deeming other media companies as “fake news” and “liars” when they raise questions about his practices and policies. Denying anyone the ability to fact-check and openly question the commander in chief allows strict control of the narrative and prohibits the public from knowing all of the facts and forming their own opinions.

The divide allowed President Trump to politicize the COVID crisis and undermine our national response. As a result, we’ve got the highest death toll of any country thus far. His inability to be a level-headed leader during such a critical time led to so many unnecessary deaths and their blood will forever be on his hands.

A true leader would not call for his supporters to belittle and abuse anyone that thinks differently. A true leader would not make an effort to frequently place blame on his opposing party. A true leader would not incite violence among the people he swore an oath to serve. A true leader would realize that a nation facing a crisis would only endure and survive through unity. Lincoln famously said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Can we stand four more years of Trump’s divisive politics?

Sources and references:

https://www.npr.org/2020/06/04/869262728/read-the-full-statement-from-jim-mattis
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2020/05/28/trump-retweets-video-saying-only-good-democrat-is-dead-democrat/
https://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/the-complete-listing-so-far-atrocities-1-796