Trump isn’t the Worst President Ever
It’s become a common consensus that Trump is the worst president in the history of the United States. He sure did a lot to earn that absolutist critique, but it’s not really true.
This country has had many horrible presidents. It was founded by a gang of rich white men who wanted to preserve their right to own other humans, exterminate others, and increase their fortunes unfettered by taxes or inconvenient laws, then cynically and hypocritically dressed up their selfishness for power and capital as a fight for freedom and liberty. Hard to call any president, or person, who owned slaves, good. Or anyone responsible for committing genocide against a whole continent of people. Washington, Jefferson, Jackson, many of the founders and first presidents were slave owning genocidal scumbags. Whatever else they may have done, whether positive or spun that way through revisionist propaganda, they did evil acts for selfish ends. Yes, Trump did evil acts during his presidency and prior life, but it would be disingenuous to say what he did was worse than his early predecessors.
So far as we know, Trump has not owned slaves. There’s a decent chance he’s killed people, or rather had people killed, and he arguably killed hundreds of thousands by neglect and proxy during his presidency, but we don’t have evidence of him committing a literal murder, let alone taking a direct part in a genocide. He has definitely committed sexual assault and rape, almost certainly including against children. But you could make a safe bet that virtually every slave owner was a rapist, and likely a child rapist. Jefferson famously owned a sex slave from the time she was fourteen. Our nation’s history is littered and lousy with slave-owning rapists. Trump, however, didn’t literally own his victims and perpetuate an institution of ownership and rape lasting their lifetimes, so far as we know.
A lot of horribleness in our nation’s past is attributed to, or ignored because of, context and relativism. The laws and the beliefs of powerful white men did not prohibit slavery or rape, even of children. These were not considered bad or wrong things by those with the power to legally make those decisions. That does not mean that they were not evil acts and institutions. They were, as were the beliefs and arguments in favor of them. Sure, it’s easier to say that today when it is the largely accepted societal norm. But that does not mean that it wasn’t true then. There were always those opposed to such evils. The argument of hindsight and moral relativism is a weak one. We can’t pretend that these men were naive to the evil they perpetrated, particularly when we have evidence of the awareness of their guilt. Early presidential biographies often discuss how men like Washington and Jefferson “struggled with the question of slavery.” They were aware of the horrors of it, that it was evil, that it was wrong, but it didn’t stop them from owning hundreds of people. They knew it was wrong, and did it anyway.
And however hard one wants to push the argument of moral relativism, in any time or context it is disgusting and wrong for a forty-four year old man (Jefferson) to own and rape a fourteen year old girl (Hemings).
But none of that is the point here. This isn’t about bashing the rich, genocidal, slave owning, rapist crackers who founded the country. And let’s not get too caught up with them, because there were plenty more rapists and murderers and war criminals and otherwise horrible presidents who followed them. There were some gradual improvements along the way, but every president has done at least some horrible shit. This does not mean that Trump wasn’t absolutely horrible. The point, however, is first that he has a lot of company, and second that we can’t declare he’s the worst ever when there could, and likely will, be worse to come.
We cannot look only to the past and we cannot act as though evil has been vanquished. There were evil men leading the country before Trump and there will be evil men leading it after. And hey, because the rightwing has semi-coopted feminism, we may have horrible women presidents as well. Riding the wave of Trump’s belly-flop, we’ve seen a rise of even more overtly racist, sexist, and otherwise bigoted scumbags rising to national prominence and power.
Trump was a monstrous wannabe fascist dictator who did horrible damage to this country and instigated several half-assed coups against it and its government, but he lacked the strength and cajones to follow through. The fascists, nazis, and other monsters that follow him may have more courage and conviction. They will look at the despicable things he did, and all the worst actions of presidents who came before, and they’ll say that it wasn’t enough. They will push, go further, and do far worse.
Trump is not the worst, because the worst is yet to come, and we have to be prepared for it
Note: This was written some time ago. I am aware that the present tense used for this title (“is” rather than “was”) is incorrect and arguably misleading, on account of that “worst is yet to come in the future” spin.
I hope this is the last thing I ever write about the Deranged Turd.