Donald represents the latest incarnation of the “great white hope” for majority Americans who want to make the country white again in rejection of Barack Obama. Without articulating one scintilla of policy, Donald Trump is atop the GOP rankings. His popularity will fade when substantive questions get asked and the cult of personality withers. Donald Trump’s argument for President is: “I am smart and rich; therefore, I should lead the United States.” He is an entertainer. Forbes Magazine has already questioned his $8.7 billion statement of wealth as fraudulent, saying it’s really $4.1 billion.
He is not self-made. His fortune began with Fred Trump’s real estate business and morphed into a Trump branding empire. He is no great economist. Not judging from the 1991 Bankruptcy action of his Trump Tower known as the Taj Mahal in New Jersey worth $3 billion, the 1992 Trump Plaza Bankruptcy for $550 million, the $1.8 billion Trump Hotels and Casinos failure or the 2009 Trump Entertainment bankruptcy. In each case, Trump took advantage of the corporate veil in Chapter 11 filings which allows businesses to operate while restructuring debt. There is nothing magical about this, only good lawyering and legal accounting. That makes him privileged, not smart. Using the veil of corporate protection, he avoided personal financial liability and loss.
Black and middle class folk don’t enjoy the pleasure of hiding behind the corporate veil to avoid personal liability. Individuals use most often Chapter 7 which allows forgiveness of debts or the reduction of debts by creditors at the expense of years of ruined credit. Blacks experience discrimination even in bankruptcy. Jean Braucher, Dov Cohen and Robert M. Lawless published an article entitled, “Race, Attorney Influence, and Bankruptcy Chapter Choice,” in the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, Forthcoming (2102), which demonstrated that lawyers in the bankruptcy business steer blacks toward Chapter 13 rather than Chapter 7 filings. Chapter 13 is harsher and requires debtors to dedicate surplus income to repayment of the debt. So, Trump, like all the other candidates for President, has used wealth to insulate himself from harm. Blacks and middle class people are tainted by debt. Trump is not smart, just protected by his economic class.
America should be outraged that only the wealthy can run for the Presidential office. Mitt Romney and Barack Obama spent more than $1 billion on the last Presidential election. Is that not a disgrace? Trump’s candidacy only reminds us of the growing economic disparity in America. Every major revolution in modern history has erupted when the gap between poor and rich became too untenable – the French Revolution (1789), the Russian Revolution (1917) and the Chinese Revolution of Chairman Mao (1949) were all, in some part, about wealth and class. America is not immune to the swing of history’s impartial pendulum.
Donald Trump represents the worst about America’s chase for the brass ring. According to former President Carter, we are willing to tolerate an oligarchy – an elite ruling class – rather than a true democracy. Trump’s popularity is a fantasy based on the idea that we could all emulate his success or that he is more intelligent. Yet, we ignore that political savvy and compromise rather than wealth rules Washington. That majority Americans stand in support of Donald Trump is, again, indicative of their entrenched hatred of the notion that a black male is President. Donald Trump is as much a fraud as Jim Jeffries against Jack Johnson. White America will continue to look for a champion to defeat the legacy of Barack Obama.
Dr. Jeffrey Dean Swain is the Dean of Campus Ministry at Florida Memorial University, an Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice, and an author.