• Nathan Max

America's Worst President


Photo Credit: Erik S. Lesser/EPA. Donald Trump combines all the worst traits of the 43 presidents who preceded him.

Donald Trump has truly distinguished himself for all the wrong reasons.


It usually takes a few decades for historians to accurately assess the lasting impact of a presidential administration and properly classify its place in the annals. But it is difficult to envision a scenario in which Trump isn’t considered the worst.


Somehow, some way, Donald Trump has managed to combine all the worst traits of the 43 men who preceded him, without possessing any redeeming qualities.


There have been other scandal-ridden administrations. Richard Nixon resigned over Watergate. Warren Harding has been forever tainted by the Teapot Dome Scandal. And Ulysses S. Grant’s administration struggled with malfeasance among his political appointees.


But Donald Trump has been far worse than them all. None of those men endured the endless stream of scandal that has become the hallmark of the Trump administration. None of them leaned on a foreign adversary to win their election, or then brazenly sought assistance from other countries four years later.


Woodrow Wilson is generally considered one this country’s more effective leaders, but his response to the 1918-19 Spanish Flu pandemic failed spectacularly. Why? Because he downplayed the crisis, just like Trump. As a result, 675,000 Americans died in a country that had approximately one-third today’s population.


And, just like Trump, Wilson’s blasé attitude toward the pandemic led to him catching the virus.


But, again, Trump is worse. Wilson never traveled around the county to stage large gatherings of unmasked supporters in close quarters. Wilson failed to stop the spread of the virus. Trump appears to be intentionally infecting as many people as possible as a matter of policy.


The pre-Civil War one-term triumvirate of James Buchanan, Franklin Pierce and Millard Fillmore are considered three of the least effective presidents in U.S. history, because they did nothing as the nation hurtled toward horrific conflict. But, unlike those men, Trump is inciting civil unrest. He is downright encouraging it.


Much like Trump, Herbert Hoover inherited a booming economy, only to have it crash during his tenure. His response to the crisis made the situation worse and plunged the nation into the Great Depression.


As our once-strong economy has cratered because of the mismanaged pandemic, the Trump White House has failed to negotiate a second stimulus package that could keep Americans in their homes. He has proposed eliminating the payroll tax, a move that would destroy Social Security by 2023. Trump wants to return to a pre-FDR world, in which the rich run roughshod over the poor, and it’s every man for himself.


Donald Trump’s response to Hurricane Maria in 2017 has been just as bad, if not worse, as George W. Bush’s response to Hurricane Katrina. And Bush didn’t rub it in by shooting jumpers with paper towels to desperate Louisianans, like Trump did in Puerto Rico.


Trump isn’t even the first president accused of sexual assault. Grover Cleveland, the only man to serve in the office twice, was also accused of rape. But only by one woman. Trump has left a lengthy trail of alleged sexual improprieties in his wake.


And what of the president’s racism? There have been many bigots to hold the Oval Office, but Trump rivals the worst of the worst. To be fair, the president’s abhorrent child-separation policy isn’t quite as bad as Andrew Jackson’s treatment of Native Americans, highlighted by the Trail of Tears fiasco. Trump’s conduct toward migrants is, however, as repugnant as World War II-era Japanese-American internment camps, set up by the otherwise blemishless Franklin Delano Roosevelt.


When Trump took office, the prevailing wisdom was that our institutions would be strong enough to withstand him for four years. They haven’t been.


Everything Donald Trump does makes our lives worse. It has been, and continues to be, a national disgrace. He has managed to combine the worst characteristics of every president who preceded him, without any of the positives to offset the evil.


If he is elected to another four years in office, this unmitigated disaster will only get worse.

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