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Sun. July 14, 2024
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Around the World, Across the Political Spectrum

Misinformation and Misconduct: Trump’s Enduring Impact on American Politics

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As the 2024 presidential election approaches, it is essential to critically examine the dangers Donald Trump still represents. His falsehoods about the economy, misrepresenting the state of inflation and job growth, sow confusion and undermine public trust in economic data. On abortion, Trump’s shifting stance and misinformation fuel polarization, impacting women's rights, and healthcare access. His denial of the January 6 insurrection downplays a significant threat to democracy, encouraging extremist behaviors. Furthermore, the hush money scandal reveals a disregard for ethical governance and legal standards, raising concerns about his commitment to transparency and accountability.

Lies About the Economy

Trump frequently misrepresents economic data to paint a misleadingly positive picture of his tenure. He often attributes economic successes to his policies while ignoring structural factors and long-term trends that predate his administration. For example, Trump claimed that his tax cuts were the largest in history, and that his administration had the greatest economy in history, which is false. His tax cuts are the fourth largest since 1940, where he created twice as much debt ($8.4tn) than Biden ($4.3tn).[1] In addition, while job growth and stock market performance were robust during parts of his presidency, he glosses over the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic fallout. The pandemic triggered a significant recession during his presidency, forcing the government to borrow $3.1 trillion to stabilize the economy.[2] Also, even though the economy grew around 2.67%, it is by far not the 4% achieved during Clinton.[3] Additionally, even though commodities like gas lowered to $1.77 a gallon, it was mainly due to the lockdown when few people were driving.[4]

Misleading Claims on Abortion

Trump's stance on abortion has been inconsistent and often driven by political expediency. Initially a supporter of abortion rights, he shifted to a staunchly anti-abortion position to appeal to his conservative base. His rhetoric has included false claims about late-term abortions and misleading statements intended to inflame public sentiment. These tactics not only misinform the public but also polarize the debate, making it harder to reach consensus on women's health issues and reproductive rights. More specifically, Trump explained that everybody was “happy” for his overturn of Roe v. Wade, saying that ‘everybody wanted it brought back” to the states, and going as far as alluding that the Founding Fathers would approve of this decision.[5] It is important to note that people were not, in fact happy. As the Pew Research Center showed, around 47% of the women interviewed disapprove of the Supreme Court’s decision, with 52% of men.[6] Moreover, Trump favors late-term abortions, which largely nonsense. As Katherine Kraschel – an assistant professor of law and health at Northwestern University – explained, the referring to a “late-term” abortion “isn’t a thing” since “it has no basis in medicine of science.”[7]

Denial of January 6 Insurrection

Trump’s persistent denial and downplaying of the January 6 insurrection pose a grave threat to democratic institutions. By describing the event as a peaceful protest and defending the actions of the rioters, he undermines the gravity of the attack on the Capitol, even adding that “those charged will somehow be found one day to be innocent.[8] Trump further added that those members of Congress that investigated the events of January 6 could face criminal charges.[9] Even when it comes to his willingness to accept the results of the 2024 election, Trump starkly said that “if it’s fair and legal ad good election, absolutely,” which is not an absolute “yes.” [10] This revisionist narrative not only disrespects the rule of law but also emboldens extremist groups who view his words as validation of their actions. His stance obstructs efforts to hold perpetrators accountable and prevents meaningful dialogue on safeguarding democratic processes.

Hush Money Scandal

The hush money payments made to silence allegations of extramarital affairs reveal serious ethical and legal concerns. These payments, intended to influence the outcome of the 2016 election by concealing damaging information, suggest a willingness to flout campaign finance laws and ethical norms. The scandal raises questions about Trump’s integrity and his respect for the law. It highlights a pattern of behavior that prioritizes personal and political gain over transparency and accountability, undermining public trust in leadership. A political leader, like a president, is expected to adhere to high ethical standards and maintain transparency, which is definitely not the case.

Misrepresentation and Vilification of Immigrants

Trump's rhetoric frequently portrays immigrants as criminals and economic threats, despite studies showing that immigrants contribute positively to the economy and have lower crime rates than native-born citizens. For example, Trump mentioned that since Biden is allowing “millions of people are pouring into our country” and use Social Security, that Biden is destroying Social Security, which is false.[11] Undocumented workers actually pay taxes that help to fund Social Security.[12] Also, in the words of the Congressional Budget Office, “most unauthorized immigrants are prohibited from receiving many of the benefits that the federal government provides through Social Security and such need-based programs as food stamps, Medicaid… and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.”[13] Trump also claims that illegal immigrants are taking all the jobs, which is also false.[14] As per the correlation between illegal immigrants and crime, this is also misleading. While there have been cases of illegal immigrants killing Americans, this does not represent a broader trend. For example, a study done by Ran Abramitzky, a Standford economist, explained that this has not been the case in America for the last 140 years.[15] In fact, the incarceration rate of white Americans is much higher than undocumented immigrants.[16]

Iuri M. Piovezan received his Masters of Arts in Political Science from Villanova University and a Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies from Temple University. Currently, he is a J.D. student at Rutgers University.

 


[1] “FACT FOCUS: Here’s a Look at Some of the False Claims Made During Biden and Trump’s First Debate,” APNews, June 28, 2024, https://apnews.com/article/fact-check-misinformation-election-debate-trump-biden-577507522762aa10f6ee5be3a0ced2bb#

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] “Debate Takeaways: Trump Confident, Even When Wrong, Biden Halting, Even with Facts on His Side,” APNews, June 28, 2024, https://apnews.com/article/debate-trump-biden-presidential-campaign-44e71c900a1c4af2bed93041fdfe923d.

[6] “Majority of Public Disapproves of Supreme Court’s Decision To Overturn Roe v. Wade,” Pew Research Center, July 6, 2022, https://www.pewresearch.org/politics/2022/07/06/majority-of-public-disapproves-of-supreme-courts-decision-to-overturn-roe-v-wade/#:~:text=More than twice as many,set their own abortion policies..

[7] Carter Sherman, “The Abortion Myths Republicans are Recycling to Reframe a Losing Issue,The Guardian, September 27, 2024, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/sep/27/abortion-myths-republicans.

[8] “Debate Takeaways: Trump Confident, Even When Wrong, Biden Halting, Even with Facts on His Side,” APNews, June 28, 2024, https://apnews.com/article/debate-trump-biden-presidential-campaign-44e71c900a1c4af2bed93041fdfe923d.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] “Debate Fact Check: Biden and Trump on the Economy, Immigration and Foreign Policy,” The New York Times, June 28, 2024, https://www.nytimes.com/live/2024/06/27/us/biden-trump-debate-fact-check.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Krysten Crawford, “The Mythical Tie Between Immigration and Crime,” Institute for Economic Policy Research, July 21, 2023, https://siepr.stanford.edu/news/mythical-tie-between-immigration-and-crime

[16] Ibid.

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