How Long Will Some People Believe?

It’s been four years since Donald Trump promised that he’d provide a cheaper and better national health program. So far as anyone can tell, such a program has never even been drafted, but he’s still promising.

He promised to bring coal back. He didn’t deliver on that, either, because he knew, as does every resource economist with any ability, that it’s economically infeasible, in addition to being environmentally disastrous.

He promised that by last April, Covid-19 would be gone, like a miracle. Since that promise, some 200,000 Americans have died, and case numbers are increasing. In addition, a recent study suggests that deaths due to Covid-19 have been undercounted.

He promised a great new wall that Mexico would pay for. Mexico didn’t pay for it, and of the 194 miles “built” only three miles were new. The other 191 miles were to strengthen the existing wall.

Trump promised to deport every single one of the 11 million illegal immigrants. He’s actually deported fewer illegals than former President Obama.

Trump promised to build an infrastructure second to none. There’s been no progress on that, either, and no real effort.

He was going to bring back manufacturing. That hasn’t happened.

Trump vowed to eliminate wasteful spending in every federal department. That was just lip service. He also vowed to eliminate the federal debt in eight years. Even before the onset of Coviod-19, the federal debt increased under Trump.

He said he wouldn’t take vacations, but he’s played far more golf than Obama, whom he criticized for golfing too much.

He said he’d eliminate the carried interest provision of the tax code that allowed financial moguls to avoid billions in taxes. He not only didn’t do that, but he passed a tax bill where most of the benefits went to millionaires.

He promised to ban foreign lobbyists from raising and spending money on American elections, but did nothing,

I’m not saying Trump didn’t keep all his promises. There were some that he did. He promised to raise import tariffs, which he did, and which increased the price of imported goods, as well as the price of American manufactured goods that use imported parts or components.

In 2016, he ran on a platform of steep tax cuts, increased defense and veterans spending, and no major changes to Social Security and Medicare. As a result, between those promises and Covid-19 expenditures, the president has enacted a total of $6.6 trillion in new borrowing, a total amount of debt now likely to exceed the size of the economy in 2021.

He’s also kept promises to roll back environmental regulations and to remove the U.S. from the Paris climate accord. He also kept promises to be tougher on all forms of immigration, with the result that families seeking to immigrate – both legally and illegally – were ripped apart and children separated from their parents, and often placed in cages.

In summary, between the promises Trump failed to keep and those he did keep, as a nation, we’re poorer (except for the very rich), less healthy, suffer more air pollution, and continue to have a deteriorating infrastructure… not to mention deteriorating relations with allies.

So why do so many people still support Trump?

9 thoughts on “How Long Will Some People Believe?”

  1. Michael Creek says:

    You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.

  2. Martin Sinclair says:

    I’m part way through “Deer Hunting with Jesus” which was written during GWB’s second term, partly as an “explanation” to those wondering how it happened. Frequent moments of black humour aside, it can be profoundly depressing because the account rings so true to what we see today.

    So far, the thesis seems to be that those of a liberal socio-political leaning don’t really understand and tend to ignore/pity/look down on the “working (poor) class” and don’t make any real effort to understand what drives them. Speaking as someone who’s happy to be classed as a moderate liberal, it’s discomforting to recognise aspects of myself in this. Add to that a truly disturbing grass-roots level of lying and misrepresentation by the local power brokers and it’s small wonder that it would take a miracle to get them to vote Democrat.

    One caveat though – I can’t help thinking about the evolution of the “Southern Strategy” which, over the course of three or four elections, turned great swathes of the South from being reliably Democratic Party supporters to rusted-on Republicans. To me, this suggests that the driver is self-interest ( or, less politely, venality ). If this is true, Trump’s supporters could well be irredeemably lost to the next snake-oil salesman that comes along

  3. Postagoras says:

    Trump got elected following the Republican strategy of running for office “against the Government”. It’s a clever strategy, and obviously has a ton of appeal.
    As you’ve pointed out many times in your books, governing well means that most people are somewhat dissatisfied, since no one gets everything they want. This Republican strategy milks that dissatisfaction.
    It’s a clever strategy because when campaign promises are not fulfilled, it’s “because of the swamp”. It’s because of (imaginary) smug government elites working against the valiant forces of change.
    Any opposing commentary is quickly characterized as more smug elitism, or simply ignored because “explanations” lose against sound bites.

  4. Dedorah Weitz says:

    It’s amazing to me that Trump continues to get rid of our Constitution and democracy, while showing his rabid love to be a dictator and people don’t seem to give a second thought to any of these warning signs. Where are our Congress members who were voted in to keep our democracy safe? Trump has gotten rid of many of our safeguards, he lies with every breath he takes, and he has encouraged violence and pitted people against each other openly. Is this not very scary to anybody out there?? Is “party” stronger than freedom? Once it’s gone, it’s gone. Please take a couple minutes to think what that would feel like for you and your family for the rest of your lives.

  5. Tom says:

    “Where are our Congress members who were voted in to keep our democracy safe?”

    We are a nation governed by ‘the people’ until such time as our votes do not get counted.

    “Traditionally in the United States, education has been primarily the responsibility of parents and local and state government. The U.S. Constitution says nothing about education, and therefore, according to the 10th Amendment, the role of the federal government is limited.” Therefor what students learn in school about the US Government and governance, and their individual responsibility, is up to the “community”. If one does not know anything about a subject one can be fooled some of the time, and perhaps even all of the time.

    We shall see.

  6. Tim says:

    @Tom. Is there a national curriculum or does each state set its own syllabus?

    Here in England we have the former which has caused annoyance when it changes – whether to bring it up to date to address modern social concerns or to include/exclude parts of English history, probably for the same reasons.

    1. Tom says:

      “While there is no national curriculum in the United States, states, school districts and national associations do require or recommend that certain standards be used to guide school instruction.”

      That is the best answer I can find. From my experience with higher education; standards are recommended/set by non-governmental national professional entities.

      LEM and others can give you a more certain answer.

    2. Alan says:

      After consulting with several friends of mine who are teachers, it came down to much as was previously stated: each state makes up their own requirements to graduate. These requirements often come from a statewide standardized test, but they are also influenced by what colleges expect of their freshman entries.

      Generally, and each state is a little different, the core education is required to be: 4 classes of English, 3 in sciences, 3 in mathematics, 2 of a foreign language, 3 of social sciences and 2 of physical education. There are a variety of elective classes that most schools encourage students to take.

      According to my teacher friends, what drives the curriculum is what students need to get into college, the state minimums as set by local laws, and what is required to pass standardized testing so that the school system can continue to receive federal funding.

      1. Tom says:

        Thank you Alan.

        “… what drives the curriculum is what students need to get into college, the state minimums as set by local laws, and what is required to pass standardized testing so that the school system can continue to receive federal funding.”

        Which brings up the question; what is ‘Education’ and specifically what is the purpose of ‘Public Education’?

        One would have thought this to be of prime interest to those governing a nation. Even if only from an economic point of view.

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