Did you ever wonder why Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan took such root among the Republican base? Did it symbolize a return to an age when wages were higher and jobs more secure? Or was it coded racial language designed to signal a rollback to a time when people of color (and women) knew their place? In the soul-searching and recrimination among Democrats after Hillary Clinton’s defeat, both theories have their champions.

Trump officially filed his reelection campaign with the FEC on January 20, 2017, the day of his inauguration.[19][20][21][22] Trump launched his reelection campaign earlier in his presidency than his predecessors did. Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush and Ronald Reagan all declared their candidacies for reelection in the third year of their presidencies.[23][24] Trump filed the papers for his reelection campaign approximately 47 months prior to the date of the election.[23] In contrast, both Reagan and George H. W. Bush filed approximately twelve months, George W. Bush filed approximately eighteen, and both Clinton and Obama filed approximately nineteen months prior to the date of the election.[23]
And yet in recent years it has become a commonplace of Republicans and Democrats alike. In other words, as the country has become politically shakier, the rhetoric about its greatness has only escalated in an American version of “the lady doth protest too much.” Such descriptors have become the political equivalent of litmus tests: You couldn’t be president or much of anything else without eternally testifying to your unwavering belief in American greatness.

It's unpatriotic to suggest that America was ever not great. But for the majority of Americans, American greatness doesn't exist at a calcified point in history. The greatness comes in the striving, in the fact that over and over in the course of the American project, a handful of citizens of an immensely imperfect nation have demanded, "do better," until eventually history bends and we do indeed do better. Greatness isn't something we find "again"; greatness is in the progress, in the moving forward. Donald Trump's promise he'll make us great again is an insult to that legacy of self-examination and of betterment. And when you peel back the rhetoric and face the reality, what he pledges to return us to wasn't actually so great at all. 
On May 9, 2017, Trump dismissed FBI Director James Comey. He first attributed this action to recommendations from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein,[709] which criticized Comey's conduct in the investigation about Hillary Clinton's emails.[710] On May 11, Trump stated that he was concerned with the ongoing "Russia thing"[711] and that he had intended to fire Comey earlier, regardless of DoJ advice.[712]

Trump's paternal grandfather, Frederick Trump, first immigrated to the United States in 1885 at the age of 16 and became a citizen in 1892.[20] He amassed a fortune operating boomtown restaurants and boarding houses in the Seattle area and the Klondike region of Canada during its gold rush.[20] On a visit to Kallstadt, he met Elisabeth Christ and married her in 1902. The couple permanently settled in New York in 1905.[21] Frederick died from influenza during the 1918 pandemic.[22]

Trump's paternal grandfather, Frederick Trump, first immigrated to the United States in 1885 at the age of 16 and became a citizen in 1892.[20] He amassed a fortune operating boomtown restaurants and boarding houses in the Seattle area and the Klondike region of Canada during its gold rush.[20] On a visit to Kallstadt, he met Elisabeth Christ and married her in 1902. The couple permanently settled in New York in 1905.[21] Frederick died from influenza during the 1918 pandemic.[22]
Trump supports a broad interpretation of the Second Amendment and says he is opposed to gun control in general,[561][562] although his views have shifted over time.[563] Trump opposes legalizing recreational marijuana but supports legalizing medical marijuana.[564] He favors capital punishment,[565][566] as well as the use of waterboarding and "a hell of a lot worse" methods.[567][568]

The Center for Public Integrity published an analysis of 2017 first-quarter federal campaign spending records which revealed that two Super PACs supporting Trump, Great America PAC and Committee to Defend the President, had spent a combined $1.32 million on the 2020 election campaign.[2] Ted Harvey serves as the chairman of the Committee to Defend the President. Eric L. Beach and Ed Rollins serve as co-chairmen of Great America PAC.[2] Both PACs have previously been accused by the FEC of poorly maintaining financial records, and had been threatened with penalties.[2] The Center for Public Integrity also found that several other pro-Trump PACs had already been founded in 2017, but most of them had yet to be very active. One such PAC was America First Action, which was founded by the CEO of a political consulting firm for which Trump's 2020 campaign treasurer is the senior vice president.[2]


In 1999, Trump filed an exploratory committee to seek the nomination of the Reform Party for the 2000 presidential election.[354][355] A July 1999 poll matching him against likely Republican nominee George W. Bush and likely Democratic nominee Al Gore showed Trump with seven percent support.[356] Trump eventually dropped out of the race, but still went on to win the Reform Party primaries in California and Michigan.[357][358] After his run, Trump left the party due to the involvement of David Duke, Pat Buchanan, and Lenora Fulani.[354] Trump also considered running for president in 2004.[359] In 2005, Trump said that he voted for George W. Bush.[360] In 2008, he endorsed Republican John McCain for president.[361]


The United States remains a vastly unequal country, with significant gaps between what men and women earn (gaps that grow wider for women of color); with revolting numbers of black men imprisoned, often for nonviolent crimes and often locked away in for-profit prisons where their incarceration monetarily benefits wealthy shareholders; with wholly inadequate or totally nonexistent social services that are the norm among our economic peer countries: paid parental leave, housing for the poor, affordable high-quality health care. The gulf between the richest and the poorest people in this country is getting larger.
In 1987 Trump spent almost $100,000 (equivalent to $215,407 in 2017) to place full-page advertisements in three major newspapers, proclaiming that "America should stop paying to defend countries that can afford to defend themselves."[350] The advertisements also advocated for "reducing the budget deficit, working for peace in Central America, and speeding up nuclear disarmament negotiations with the Soviet Union."[351] After rumors of a presidential run, Trump was invited by Democratic senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, House Speaker Jim Wright of Texas, and Arkansas congressman Beryl Anthony Jr., to host a fundraising dinner for Democratic Congressional candidates and to switch parties. Anthony told The New York Times that "the message Trump has been preaching is a Democratic message." Asked whether the rumors were true, Trump denied being a candidate, but said, "I believe that if I did run for President, I'd win."[351] According to a Gallup poll in December 1988, Trump was the tenth most admired man in America.[352][353]
At two years into his term the base of support he grew to support his candidacy stands almost unmoved from his inauguration at 87%. The only President in the modern era that bests him was George W. Bush in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. His support is largely based upon promises kept in numbers of areas but his particularly aggressive appointments of judges in the appellate system, as well as the Supreme Court of The United States have already secured pro-life, and pro-religious liberties wins. If he does not have the chance to place another appointment to the Supreme Court before the 2018 mid-terms, this becomes an especially effective campaign focus for 2020. The difference then will be that he has a record of delivering on this promise to demonstrate—whereas in 2016 never-Trumpers never believed he’d fulfill this promise. But proving people wrong has been one of President Trump’s most endearing features since gaining office.

Donald Trump, in other words, is the first person to run openly and without apology on a platform of American decline. Think about that for a moment. “Make America Great Again!” is indeed an admission in the form of a boast. As he tells his audiences repeatedly, America, the formerly great, is today a punching bag for China, Mexico… well, you know the pitch. You don’t have to agree with him on the specifics. What’s interesting is the overall vision of a country lacking in its former greatness.
Honduran migrants, who were taking part in a caravan heading to the US, board a bus to return to Honduras, in Ciudad Tecun Uman, Guatemala, on Oct. 20, 2018. Some 220 Honduran migrants were returning to their country and some 130 were waiting at a shelter Saturday, according to a police source, while thousands who forced their way through Guatemala's northwestern border and flooded onto a bridge leading to Mexico, were waiting at the border in the hope of continuing their journey. Johan Ordonez, AFP/Getty Images
Since then, a cottage industry of spreadsheet-diving journalists has worked itself into a lather trying to peg his real net worth. But without tax returns to go on, it’s really anybody’s guess. Despite the all-caps figures Trump has dispensed, most estimates from the established financial-media outlets have been lower, FAR LOWER. Forbes put his net worth at $4.5 billion. Fortune postulated $3.7 billion, and later upped it to $3.9 billion. Bloomberg guessed it was “closer to $2.9 billion.”
She says the buyers are located in both China and abroad and she doesn’t know if they are affiliated with Trump’s official campaign or the Republican Party. Her factory has been making Trump banners since the time his tag line as a candidate was “Make America Great Again”, highlighting an irony of his hardline on trade with China. “Sales have been great ever since 2015,” she said.
But for most people in the United States, life is better than it has ever been. We have more rights, fewer obstacles, and greater opportunity than generations past. For the most part, we live longer, healthier lives. Fewer of our children die; fewer go hungry; more are literate and thriving. Equality is also not a zero-sum game, and gains by women and minority groups have not come at a proportionate negative cost to white men.
Think of this as part of a post-Vietnam Reagan reboot, a time when the United States in Rambo-esque fashion was quite literally muscling up and over-arming in a major way. Reagan presided over “the biggest peacetime defense build-up in history” against what, referencing Star Wars, he called an “evil empire”—the Soviet Union. In those years, he also worked to rid the country of what was then termed “the Vietnam Syndrome” in part by rebranding that war a “noble cause.” In a time when loss and decline were much on the American brain, he dismissed them both, even as he set the country on a path toward the present moment of 1 percent dysfunction in a country that no longer invests fully in its own infrastructure, whose wages are stagnant, whose poor are a growth industry, whose wealth now flows eternally upward in a political environment awash in the money of the ultra-wealthy, and whose over-armed military continues to pursue a path of endless failure in the Greater Middle East.
His political positions have been described as populist,[398][399][400] and some of his views cross party lines. For example, his economic campaign plan calls for large reductions in income taxes and deregulation,[401] consistent with Republican Party policies, along with significant infrastructure investment,[402] usually considered a Democratic Party policy.[403][404] According to political writer Jack Shafer, Trump may be a "fairly conventional American populist when it comes to his policy views", but he attracts free media attention, sometimes by making outrageous comments.[405][406]

Trump's language on the tape was described by the media as "vulgar", "sexist", and descriptive of sexual assault. The incident prompted him to make his first public apology during the campaign,[464][465] and caused outrage across the political spectrum,[466][467] with many Republicans withdrawing their endorsements of his candidacy and some urging him to quit the race.[468] Subsequently, at least 15 women[469] came forward with new accusations of sexual misconduct, including unwanted kissing and groping, resulting in widespread media coverage.[470][471] In his two public statements in response to the controversy, Trump alleged that former President Bill Clinton had "abused women" and that Hillary had bullied her husband's victims.[472]


Timothy Naftali, a presidential historian and former director of the Richard Nixon Library, said there is no precedent for a sitting president to wade so early into his next campaign while publicly handicapping the other party's primary race. Yet Trump was swept into office believing in the power of branding, and his time in the White House has only reinforced the feeling.

Trump has been the subject of comedians, flash cartoon artists, and online caricature artists. He has been parodied regularly on Saturday Night Live by Phil Hartman, Darrell Hammond, and Alec Baldwin, and in South Park as Mr. Garrison. The Simpsons episode "Bart to the Future", written during his 2000 campaign for the Reform party, anticipated a future Trump presidency. A dedicated parody series called The President Show debuted in April 2017 on Comedy Central, while another one called Our Cartoon President debuted on Showtime in February 2018.[333]
Trump has a history of making racially controversial remarks and taking actions that are perceived as racially motivated.[284] In 1975, he settled a 1973 Department of Justice lawsuit that alleged housing discrimination against black renters.[106][285][286] He was accused of racism for insisting that a group of black and Latino teenagers were guilty of raping a white woman in the 1989 Central Park jogger attack, even after they were exonerated by DNA evidence in 2002. He continued to maintain this position as late as 2016.[287]
“The Most Important Election of Our Lives.” That's my new column, and you hear it every time, but this year really is the most important contest in decades (or at least since 2016). Truth and accountability are on the ballot, and since that's the driving force for all of us at MoJo, I am going to make an ask: Will you pitch in $5 a month to support our kick-ass and uncompromising journalism today?
Shortly after taking office, Trump put Iran 'on notice' following their ballistic missile tests on January 29, 2017.[640] In February 2018, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on Iran's 25 individuals and entities, which it said were but "initial steps", with Trump's National Security Advisor Michael T. Flynn adding that "the days of turning a blind eye to Iran's hostile and belligerent actions toward the United States and the world community are over."[641][642][643]
On September 16, 2011, Roger Stone, Trump's longtime political advisor and a veteran of Reagan's 1980 campaign, tweeted the slogan: "Make America Great Again --TRUMP HUCKABEE 2012 #nomormons".[12] Two months later, in December 2011, Trump made a statement in which he said he was unwilling to rule out running as a presidential candidate in the future, explaining "I must leave all of my options open because, above all else, we must make America great again".[13] Also in December 2011, he published a book using as a subtitle the similar phrase "Making America #1 Again" — which in a 2015 reissue would be changed to "Make America Great Again!"[14]
Donald John Trump was born on June 14, 1946 at the Jamaica Hospital Medical Center in the Queens borough of New York City. He is the son of Mary Trump (née Macleod) and Fred Trump, a real estate millionaire. His mother was a Scottish immigrant who initially worked as a maid. His father was born in New York, to German parents. From kindergarten ... See full bio »
One problem for Democrats going into 2020 is that Trump makes it almost impossible not to respond to his daily outrages. “He’s sucked all the oxygen out of the room,” Bannon says. “They’re in a Kafka-esque nightmare right now. There’s no exit. I just love it.” Democrats have yet to develop a cohesive message and a consensus about whether the best way to defeat Trump is from the left or the middle. Doug Jones and Conor Lamb ran as moderates in deep red Alabama and Pennsylvania. But Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s upset win in New York over Speaker-in-waiting Joe Crowley gives progressives an argument that the Bernie Sanders wing of the party is ascendant. Dan Pfeiffer told me the problem for Democrats is how to balance the need to drive the base while trying to win back working-class voters Trump peeled off in places like Michigan and Wisconsin. “We’re going to have to figure out how to get the Obama coalition that did not turn out, plus win back midwestern states while improving performance in rural states,” he said.

On June 27, the president held a rally in Fargo, North Dakota, supporting Representative Kevin Cramer in his challenge to sitting Senator Heidi Heitkamp. President Trump also addressed, at the rally, the just-announced news of the retirement from the Supreme Court of Justice Anthony Kennedy. Cramer addressed the issue of abortion and Heitkamp's position on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act as his reason for entering the race. "'On behalf of the most forgotten people,' Mr. Cramer said to the president as both men took the stage to deafening applause, 'the unborn babies, thank you for standing for life.'"[236]


Trump has often referred to the press as "fake news media" and "the enemy of the people".[328] He has privately and publicly mused about taking away critical reporters' White House press credentials (despite, during his campaign, promising not to do so once he became president).[329] On his first day in office, Trump falsely accused journalists of understating the size of the crowd at his inauguration, and called the media "among the most dishonest human beings on earth".
Trump allies — projecting buoyancy about a race the president approaches with historically weak approval ratings — say the bombast reflects his confidence: Trump privately claims to be unimpressed with the Democratic crop, calling its major figures grossly unprepared for prime time and too liberal for the general electorate. Aides and allies said they expect the smattering of public broadsides to pick up significantly after the midterms.
Jump up ^ Johnson, Jenna. "Trump now says Muslim ban only applies to those from terrorism-heavy countries", Chicago Tribune (June 25, 2016): "[A] reporter asked Trump if [he] would be OK with a Muslim from Scotland coming into the United States and he said it 'wouldn't bother me.' Afterward, [spokeswoman] Hicks said in an email that Trump's ban would now just apply to Muslims in terror states ..."
On October 25, the president traveled to Texas for a fundraiser hosted by the Dallas County Republican Party for both the RNC and his reelection campaign.[218][217][220] The event was closed to the media. Mark Knoller noted, "By my count, this will be Pres Trump's 10th political fundraiser since taking office. 9 of 10 were closed to press coverage including today."[221]
If the next presidential election were held today, there's a decent chance that President Trump would be re-elected. Despite his litany of scandals and his abysmally low (yet stable) approval rating, he is benefiting enormously from a strong economy. The GDP experienced 4.2 percent growth in the second quarter of 2018, the unemployment rate is now at an 18-year low, and the stock market is booming. In perhaps the best news for Trump, one of the strongest indicators of an incumbent president's re-election prospects, consumer confidence, is at its highest level since 2000.
The reports gave rise to speculation that not only was the president’s re-election campaign itself ordering campaign items produced in China rather than in the U.S., but that they were attempting to mitigate against the increased costs that would come with the tariffs by pushing for the quick completion of those materials — moves that would provide a double dose of irony for a politician who has famously emphasized prioritizing American jobs and manufacturing.
On May 9, 2017, Trump dismissed FBI Director James Comey. He first attributed this action to recommendations from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein,[709] which criticized Comey's conduct in the investigation about Hillary Clinton's emails.[710] On May 11, Trump stated that he was concerned with the ongoing "Russia thing"[711] and that he had intended to fire Comey earlier, regardless of DoJ advice.[712]
Think of this as part of a post-Vietnam Reagan reboot, a time when the United States in Rambo-esque fashion was quite literally muscling up and over-arming in a major way. Reagan presided over “the biggest peacetime defense build-up in history” against what, referencing Star Wars, he called an “evil empire”—the Soviet Union. In those years, he also worked to rid the country of what was then termed “the Vietnam Syndrome” in part by rebranding that war a “noble cause.” In a time when loss and decline were much on the American brain, he dismissed them both, even as he set the country on a path toward the present moment of 1 percent dysfunction in a country that no longer invests fully in its own infrastructure, whose wages are stagnant, whose poor are a growth industry, whose wealth now flows eternally upward in a political environment awash in the money of the ultra-wealthy, and whose over-armed military continues to pursue a path of endless failure in the Greater Middle East.
In 1995, Trump founded Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts (THCR), which assumed ownership of Trump Plaza, Trump Castle, and the Trump Casino in Gary, Indiana.[167] THCR purchased Taj Mahal in 1996 and underwent bankruptcy restructuring in 2004 and 2009, leaving Trump with 10 percent ownership in the Trump Taj Mahal and other Trump casino properties.[168] Trump remained chairman of THCR until 2009.[169]
Did you ever wonder why Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan took such root among the Republican base? Did it symbolize a return to an age when wages were higher and jobs more secure? Or was it coded racial language designed to signal a rollback to a time when people of color (and women) knew their place? In the soul-searching and recrimination among Democrats after Hillary Clinton’s defeat, both theories have their champions.
In December 2016, Time named Trump as its "Person of the Year".[342] In an interview on The Today Show, he said he was honored by the award, but he took issue with the magazine for referring to him as the "President of the Divided States of America."[343][344] In the same month, he was named Financial Times Person of the Year.[345] In December 2016, Forbes ranked Trump the second most powerful person in the world, after Vladimir Putin and before Angela Merkel.[346] In 2015, Robert Gordon University revoked the honorary Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) it had granted Trump in 2010, stating that "Mr. Trump has made a number of statements that are wholly incompatible with the ethos and values of the university."[347]
Joe Biden, a son of Scranton, Pa., appeals to the same working-class white voters who flocked to Mr. Trump in 2016. Some progressives no doubt look upon him fondly from his days as Barack Obama’s vice president. But Mr. Biden’s three-decades-long centrist Senate record, from his handling of Clarence Thomas’s confirmation hearing in 1991 to his vote for the 2005 bankruptcy bill, might make him a tough sell to today’s Democratic primary voters, not to mention the fact that he still has those centrist tendencies (he recently came out against a universal basic income). And he’ll turn 78 in November 2020.
After Donald Trump popularized the use of the phrase, the phrase and modifications of it became widely used to refer to his election campaign and his politics. Trump's primary opponents, Ted Cruz and Scott Walker, began using "Make America Great Again" in speeches, inciting Trump to send cease-and-desist letters to them. Trump claimed after the election that the hats "were copied, unfortunately. It was knocked off by 10 to one [...] but it was a slogan, and every time somebody buys one, that's an advertisement".[15] Cruz later sold hats featuring, "Make Trump Debate Again", in response to Trump's boycotting the Iowa January 28, 2016 debate.[29]

In November 2017, the Trump administration tightened the rules on trade with Cuba and individual visits to the county, undoing the Obama administration's loosening of restrictions. According to an administration official, the new rules were intended to hinder trade with businesses with ties to the Cuban military, intelligence and security services.[632]
Of course, don’t furl the flag or shut down those offshore accounts or start writing the complete history of American decline quite yet. After all, the United States still looms “lone” on an ever more chaotic planet. Its wealth remains stunning, its economic clout something to behold, its tycoons the envy of the Earth, and its military beyond compare when it comes to how much and how destructively, even if not how successfully. Still, make no mistake about it, Donald Trump is a harbinger, however bizarre, of a new American century in which this country will indeed no longer be (with a bow to Muhammad Ali) “the Greatest” or, for all but a shrinking crew, exceptional.
When Mike Fleiss, the creator of “The Bachelor” and “Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire?” helped pioneer reality television in the early 2000s, he quickly realized that for any show to work, the audience needed to feel invested. “Whenever you’re developing one of these shows, you have to find stakes — true love or a million dollars,” Mr. Fleiss said.
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