By Senator Lena C. Taylor
In June 2015, when Donald Trump came down his likely overvalued escalator, he gave what would be the first of many rambling and disconnected speeches. In his presidential bid announcement, he was clearly detached from reality as he promised to make Mexico pay to build a border wall. He told Americans that “I’m really rich…that’s the kind of thinking you need for this country. It sounds crass, it’s not crass.”
That fateful day, he went on to say the U.S. “We have the opposite thinking. We have losers. We have people that don’t have it. We have people that are morally corrupt.” It was at that time that we were getting a lesson in “projection.” This term, when applied to an individual, refers to unconsciously taking unwanted emotions or traits you don’t like about yourself and attributing them to someone else. This man was attempting to make himself great, not the country. The loser was not us and it wasn’t our morals that were in question.
Of course, we would later learn that Trump was financially struggling. American banks weren’t eager to do business with him and his numerous bankruptcies, likely didn’t help. Yet, he claimed he was rich.
In my lifetime and in my role as a legislator, I have come to learn that “rich” means different things to different people. Money isn’t always the benchmark. Family, career, community, faith, and health are other markers used to gauge their wealth. However, even in factoring in those other indicators, Trump has proved to be deficient and corrupt. I won’t rehash his greatest hits, but they have been a rich.
Rich in fraud, rich in lies, rich in division, rich in hate, rich in distrust and richly bankrupt of decency.
I want to be clear, we all fall short of perfect. When it comes to elected officials, we have seen one scandal after another and outright abuses of the public trust. We have seen power corrupt and greed supersede service to others. Yet, the behavior of Donald Trump is a whole other ball game. Frankly, it’s also one we can’t afford to lose.
As elected officials, we are entrusted with making decisions for the welfare of others. We make policy that will impact the lives of residents. We spend each dime understanding it is not our own. We dispense resources knowing that those need count on us for their very existence. We are here to level the playing field and build one where none exists. We are public servants.
However, the script has flipped. The residents are serving a politician. Under the guise of patriotism, Trump supporters have been encouraged to commit fraud (fake electors), tell lies (there was election fraud), spew hate (the Proud Boys), sew distrust (fake news claims, when the truth is inconvenient) and lack decency (threats and acts of violence) in expressing political differences. I guess Trump is rich, after all. He is richly immersed in changing the role of an elected official and helping to morally bankrupt the constituency he serves.