Donald Trump Is All The Worst Parts Of Thomas Jefferson Part 2

continued from Part 1

The Worst Qualities of Thomas Jefferson, Which Donald Trump Magnifies

1. Racism

When Thomas Jefferson wrote that all men are created equal, he meant white men. As a slaveholder his entire life, he often lamented slavery but did nothing to address the problem – both because it might have hurt his popularity and ability to effect other change, and because he held unquestionably racist views. In some ways he invented racism by attaching a bogus scientific rationale for it, claiming among other things that blacks were less intelligent and smelled worse than whites, and that they mated with orangutans. This may be part of why he never freed his slaves, even though his Virginia neighbors (like George Washington) did.

Trump’s racism and bigotry is well-documented. He was sued twice for discriminating against blacks, has called Mexican immigrants rapists and drug dealers, declared that a judge was unfit to try a case against him because he was Mexican, and consistently believes that all African-Americans live in hellish inner-cities.

His major entry into politics is also based on racism, although many would disagree. For anyone familiar with modern racism, it’s hard to consider Trump’s birtherism as anything else. Trump waged a years-long crusade to delegitimize the first black president by questioning his place of birth, even after Obama released his long form birth certificate. Trump rose to political prominence in the United States based on a racist lie.

Jefferson’s legacy will always be tainted by slavery because his actions advocated it even though his rhetoric denounced it, but his legacy includes much more than this significant blight.

The full role of racism and white nationalism – of hate – in Trump’s legacy remains to be seen, but much of the damage is already done. Trump effectively showed Americans that hate is a virtue. He told us our problems were because of others. Immigrants. Mexicans. Muslims. He used scapegoats to incite fear and anger among throngs of chanting followers at rallies, and what’s worse is that he convinced millions of people there was nothing wrong with that.

2. Trouble With Women

Thomas Jefferson was the first president to have sex scandals. The most infamous and despicable was his relationship with his slave, Sally Hemings, with whom he fathered six children. As his property, Sally Hemings could not have consented to their relationship.

Jefferson also went after multiple married women including his best friend’s wife, Elizabeth Walker. He once feigned sickness at a party so he could sneak into her bedroom uninvited. He later admitted this indiscretion by saying it was “an incorrect thing to do” and attested that Elizabeth had always honorably refused him.

Like Jefferson, Donald is no stranger to going after married women, except he’s not one for apologies or anything resembling honor. The lecher who bragged about leering at beauty pageant contestants in their dressing rooms also bragged about using his stardom to commit sexual assault. 

His first wife, Ivana, accused him of brutally assaulting and raping her following a painful scalp reduction surgery. His lawyers got a statement from her clarifying that claim – she “felt violated” but did not want her words “to be interpreted in a literal or criminal sense.” So one might say that he brutally and figuratively, but totally legally, raped her. Since then at least a dozen women have accused him of sexual assault.

Donald Trump’s problem with women extends beyond physical assault to a mindset of sexism which is rampant and reprehensible. When confronted with this, Trump said, “Nobody has more respect for women than I do. Nobody.” 

What he considers respect for women is, at best, objectification. Women exist to please and serve men, and it is not their place to challenge men. If they understand this and do their duty arousing him, he considers them beautiful – nice pieces of ass. If they step outside their role, they are ugly fat pigs. They are nasty.

3. Fatherhood

I wouldn't question Jefferson's love and adoration for his children and grandchildren (the ones he didn't keep as slaves, anyway), but his parenting style left much to be desired.

When he went to France to serve as minister, he left his 2-year-old and 6-year-old daughters behind. It was only after his youngest died of whooping cough that he sent for his oldest, who didn't want to leave her aunt and had to be tricked into getting on the ship to Europe.

He also gave some pretty gross beauty advice to her when she was 11: “A lady who has been seen as a sloven or a slut in the morning, will never efface the impression she then made with all the dress and pageantry she can afterwards involve herself in. Nothing is so disgusting to our sex as a want of cleanliness and delicacy of yours.”

Trump’s daughters also grew up with their father as a distant figure, even when he lived in the same house. He has said he won’t put kids to bed, change their diapers, or take them to the park. "I won’t do anything to take care of them,” he has said. “I’ll supply funds and she’ll take care of the kids.”

Maybe that minimal role in their upbringing prevented him from bonded with them enough to identify with them as kin, and that’s why he treats them like he treats all women – as existing solely for the sexual pleasure of men.

He doesn't mind if you call his daughter Ivanka "a piece of ass. He has often said that if she weren't his daughter, he might be dating her. "You know who’s one of the great beauties of the world, according to everybody?" he once asked. "And I helped create her. Ivanka...She’s got the best body." He once lamented, "If I weren't happily married and, ya know, her father...”

When his daughter Tiffany was a baby, he was asked what attributes she had of her parents. He responded, "She's got Marla's legs. We don't know whether or not she's got this part yet," he said, making a big-bosomed gesture. He could have named anything about her, but he went to his default and objectifyied his baby daughter because one day she would grow into a woman.

Trump is a disturbing, disgusting, and demeaning example of fatherhood.

4. Money Troubles 

Thomas Jefferson was a bona fide shopaholic who spent beyond his means and had so much debt that he had trouble getting loans. Biographer David McCullough said Jefferson kept meticulous records of every purchase and expenditure but “it was as if somehow he could never bring himself to add up the columns.” On his farm, “he never in his life added up the profit and loss for any year, and perhaps for the reason that there was almost never any profit.” 

Trump has similar problems with debt, even though both he and Jefferson benefited from free labor – Jefferson by owning over 600 slaves, and Trump by not paying his contractors. Six of Trump’s companies have filed for bankruptcy and his companies have over $700 billion dollars in debt that we know of.

Trump’s problem with money is much more profound than debt. For him, wealth is his defining characteristic. It’s the most important thing to him, and the only thing he wouldn’t let comedians make fun of in his 2011 Comedy Central roast. His hair, his weight, his wives, his failed business, his sexual attraction to his daughter – all of those areas were fair game he said, but do not joke that he has less money than he claims.

His actual money situation is unclear because he refuses to release his taxes and he makes up his net worth based on how he's feeling. We actually know far more about Thomas Jefferson's finances than we do Donald Trump's, and there’s a good reason for that. Much of Trump’s income comes from licensing his name to properties he does not own, like the Trump SoHo. His name is a brand, and it has value because it is associated with great wealth. If that wealth were to be questioned, then the actual value of the brand could go down. He’s like a pecuniary Rumpelstiltskin – if you say his true net worth, his brand shrivels up.

It seems unlikely than any oath of office would supersede the allegiance he has already pledged to his brand.
5. Deceit

Many founding fathers are rightly considered honest men. Thomas Jefferson is not one of them.

As secretary of state, Jefferson actively worked to undermine the government he served by secretly founding a party to oppose President Washington's policies. He even started a newspaper to smear the Federalists and got the government to pay for it by hooking up its editor with a questionable state department job as a translator.

Then as John Adams's vice-president, he secretly authored the Kentucky Resolution, a bill giving states the right to nullify any federal laws they deemed unconstitutional. It was an insidious idea, threatening the very nation he helped found, and laying the groundwork for the south's secession and the Civil War.

Jefferson at least tried to hide his duplicity, and in some cases it wasn't until years after his death that the full extent of his machinations were known. Donald Trump's deceit is flagrant. Politifact determined that he is lying 85% of the time, especially about immigration, crime rates, and the condition of our cities. He lies to scare people so they believe he alone can protect them. He lies to attain and maintain power.

As despicable as Jefferson's actions were, they were in service of what he thought was best for the country. Trump's deceit is in service of his own ego, and his desire to retaliate against dissent. It doesn’t matter to him if something is true or not, as long as his most ardent followers believe it. If a reporter or a union boss says something he doesn’t like, he tweets about it. The subjects of those tweets soon find themselves on the receiving end of death threats. Donald Trump cannot be trusted with money, women, or words, so it may be wishful thinking to believe he can be trusted with his ability to weaponize fanatic supporters.
One of Thomas Jefferson's most admirable moments was during his first inauguration when he tried to pull a fractious nation together by saying (too softly for anyone to hear), “We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists.”

Bridging that divide will be harder for Trump, who refers to his political opponents as his “enemies.”

Donald Trump could learn a lot from Thomas Jefferson as he takes on the presidency, but I doubt he will because he’s never read a biography of a president. In the course of his 34,000+ tweets, however, Donald Trump has quoted Jefferson twice: 
Of course, Thomas Jefferson never said either one of them. 

The first quote comes from the diary of Polish writer Witold Gomborwicz, published in 1988.

The second is from an 1860 biography of Andrew Jackson. Historian Daniel Feller said the biographer, whose full quote was actually “Desperate courage makes one a majority,” was no fan of Jackson’s. In fact, he thought of him as “a headstrong ignoramus whose desperate courage overrode other men’s good sense.” Interesting.

In Trump’s case, "desperate courage" still doesn't really apply. Desperate bravado is more fitting. That’s something the White House has seen before, but it will never be filled with more of it than when Donald Trump dines alone.
Back to Part 1

Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham, Jefferson and the Rights of Man by Dumas Malone, Jefferson: A Revealing Biography by Page Smith, John Adams by David McCullough

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