I wasn’t going to write about Donald Trump this week. To be honest, having written hundreds of articles and columns about him in recent years, I’d like never to have to write about him again. But with Trump running for president for a third time and leading the pack of a dozen GOP candidates, that isn’t an option. In fact, writing about Trump more — not less — is a necessity.
It means repeating the facts of who Donald Trump is, what he’s done, who he’s harmed and why he represents a clear and present danger to the country as a whole, but also to historically marginalized communities and groups specifically, notably people of color, women, LGBTQ+ people and immigrants. It means trying to convince Trump followers to take another path. It means trying to stop this dangerous ideologue who told Sean Hannity on Fox News July 18 that he wanted to be a dictator like China’s Xi Jinping.
It’s essential to counter the narratives that have normalized Trump since he came down the escalator in 2015 and announced his candidacy, while spewing racist invective and a passel of lies about the country and Barack Obama as his rationale for running.
It’s not 2015, though. Trump is not a merely a vaguely known celebrity New York City real-estate tycoon with a hit TV show and a third wife. It’s 2023 and Trump has been revealed as a corrupt, narcissistic felon who tried to overthrow the government and is currently under indictment and headed to several trials in 2024.
Trump is still the same racist he revealed himself to be when he came down that escalator and talked about Mexican rapists and drug dealers. But Trump expanded his repertoire of bigotry and hate throughout his presidency, becoming the most anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-woman president in U.S. history.
Trump also presided over the worst global pandemic in a century. His anti-science attitudes and rhetoric — supported by Vice President Mike Pence, his Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams and others in FDA and CDC — are roundly perceived as exacerbating the crisis and causing more deaths from COVID-19. In 2020, journalist Bob Woodward revealed taped discussions with Trump from early in the pandemic where Trump stated unequivocally that he was deliberately hiding the truth about the pandemic.
“This is deadly stuff,” he told Woodward. Recounting a conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping, Trump told Woodward on Feb. 7, 2020 that the coronavirus is “more deadly than your, you know, your — even your strenuous flus.”
It wouldn’t be Trump’s only lie, though it contributed to the deaths of more than a million Americans and also bolstered the anti-masking, anti-vaccine craze that continues to contribute to deaths from COVID even as the disease has been declared “over” by the Biden administration.
Yet last month, there were still a few thousand deaths a week from COVID. A map of the pandemic reiterates what most of us on the left already know: the more red the state, the fewer vaccines and more deaths from the disease.
For women and LGBTQ+ people, all the things that Hillary Clinton warned about as she ran against Trump in 2016 have come true. Trump stacked the courts nationwide, making it hard for women, people of color and LGBTQ+ people to gain traction.
On Dec. 22, 2015, Hillary Clinton tweeted, “A Republican president could nominate as many as 4 Supreme Court justices. Why that should terrify you:” along with a now-broken link to her campaign website.
It should have terrified people enough to keep them from staying home or voting third party, but it didn’t. And now there are three Trump appointees on the Supreme Court and the conservative six-justice majority has overturned Roe v. Wade, threatened to overturn Obergefell and last month codified discrimination against LGBTQ+ people.
It could all happen again. Inexplicably, Republican voters continue to rank Trump at just below 50% — a full 30 points above his next closest rival, the equally odious Ron DeSantis.
More concerning is the plethora of third party groups and candidates attempting to push Joe Biden out — which would result in a win for Trump, not any third party candidate. Biden also faces a threat of votes being siphoned away by anti-LGBTQ+ conspiracy theorist Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s vanity run as a Democratic challenger to Biden.
Several years ago, in a news story that was a timeline of Trump’s anti-LGBTQ+ actions, I wrote: “When Presidential candidate Donald Trump chose religious extremist and avowed homophobe Mike Pence as his running mate instead of moderate former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, it was a signal of the anti-LGBTQ governance to come. Four years later, President Trump has signed executive orders against LGBTQ people and nominated dozens of anti-LGBTQ judges — including three Supreme Court justices — to lifetime appointments. Trump and Pence have catered to and made promises to evangelical Christians that have promoted so-called ‘religious freedom’ laws that allow discrimination against LGBTQ people on ‘religious’ grounds.’”
That story was published before the Jan. 6 insurrection, before we knew about the fake electors scheme in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Georgia, before we knew about the stolen classified documents, before we knew about the phone calls to secretaries of state trying to find more votes.
It was before we knew that Trump was able to rally troops to storm the Capitol and sit back and watch as it unfolded on his TV, as the crowd of thousands rampaged through the Capitol calling to “hang Mike Pence” and “get Nancy [Pelosi].”
It was before we knew that Trump was more dangerous defeated — even though Hillary Clinton had warned about this, too.
In recent weeks, Trump has seen the criminal justice system closing in on him. He’s under indictment in two cases and has just received a target letter from Special Prosecutor Jack Smith. Trump disclosed on July 18 that he had received the letter. Trump said it gave him “just days to decide whether to testify before the grand jury” investigating the case, which is a federal investigation into his efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election.
The target letter cites three federal statutes related to the deprivation of rights, conspiracy to defraud the U.S., and tampering with a witness.
On July 19, a judge denied Trump’s request for new trial in the E. Jean Carroll case, dismissing Trump’s attempts to overturn his conviction in the sexual battery and defamation case he lost in May.
So Trump heads into 2024 with at least two, and as many as four, trials commencing against him. Trump was a dangerous president and he’s stoked violence and hate since he left office. What do we think will happen if he is re-elected in 2024? And can he be stopped?