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Today I Learned: Trump formed a Presidential Campaign for the 2000 election

January 8, 2018

In one of his latest Twitter rants Don bragged about winning the presidency on his first try, going a step further to suggest that this serves as some evidence of his genius, But he sought the nomination of the Reform Party, a Conservative third party founded by Ross Perot in the 90s, for the 2000 Presidential Election and withdrew once he realized he couldn't win. We're talking numerous TV appearances as a candidate, policy proposals, participating in 2 primaries, and conducting campaign events in 3 states. That qualifies as a fairly solid "try", does it not? Either way, that wouldn’t be a compelling piece of evidence for "genius" considering the vast majority of Presidents secured the win on their first try, but I digress.


Trump 2000 was a brief and forgettable campaign but after some research there are some interesting parallels to today’s administration worth sharing. He left the Republican party in 1999 to join the Reform Party, citing the GOP as too far right. That’s the very same extreme populism, arguably worse today, he used and abused to get elected. All of Don's political shifts stark, their origins either unclear or nonlinear. From pushing for universal healthcare to whatever the GOP plan is now and blasting his main rival, Pat Buchanan, as a Hitler lover, only to be labeled a Nazi sympathizer 18 years later...do scripts really flip like this?


His entire political history only speaks to the fleeting nature of calls for political consistency; it matters until it doesn’t. Everyone changes over time, it would be strange if the changing nature of the country and the world didn’t warrant some level of adaptation from politicians. But Don’s been all over the place with no real commitment, except of course to the preservation of his brand and his relevance. Don is an opportunist. He re-registered as Democrat in 2001, citing the economy doing better under Democrats as his main reason. He registered as a Republican once more 8 years later in 2009 and then again as an Independent in 2011.


I said he used populism, he expertly but somewhat cruelly took advantage the misguided and misunderstood fears and frustrations of the white working class to ensure his victory. A victory some aren’t even sure he wanted other than to prove he could do it, for the validation and the vanity of it all. In his 2000 book, The America We Deserve, Don prefaced his stance on healthcare with "I’m a conservative on most issues but a liberal on this one [...] we should not hear so many stories of families ruined by health care expenses”. Referencing the Canadian system, he highlighted how Canadians live longer, healthier lives and ultimately proposed that “we need, as a nation, to reexamine the single-payer plan, as many individual states are doing."

If that isn’t interesting enough, get ready for the Trump 2000 tax plan. It was reminiscent of now empty campaign promises to actually help the middle class and hit the wealthy hard. He proposed a one time 14% net worth tax on trusts and assets valued at over 10 million dollars, almost exclusive to the top 1% of the population. The money collected would be used to completely wipe out the nearly 6 trillion dollar national debt of the time. The resulting 200 billion a year in interest payments saved would then be used to fund tax cuts for everyone else and keep social security afloat.


Given it was so short lived, there’s not much else out there regarding the policies and agenda of the Trump 2000 campaign, at least not in so much detail. There’s another important bit though, and perhaps the most meaningful parallel drawn out of this little rabbit hole; the fact that it was all viewed as a joke back then too. The policy, the campaign, all of it was confirmed by the experts as rife with projections of negative impacts on the economy, impossible proposals, risks to national security, the results of an unacceptable simplification of complex political issues. The conclusion was the same then as it is now: Don has no idea what he’s talking about. One might categorize a few Trump 2000 positions as fairly liberal, but they’re not, they’re just...words. Rooted in a profound and staggering lack of understanding, or care, for the necessary complexity of legislation that would persist 20 years into the future.


That’s the only thing consistent about Don. He knows the words, but not what they mean. That’s why what we’ve ended up with is like nothing proposed during the campaign, for better or worse, it’s all been hit with the harsh realities of the political process that continue to elude his comprehension.


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