Last week, Donald Trump made headlines (as he’s wont to do) by visiting the 9/11 Memorial in New York City. His supporters are trumpeting it as a wonderful visit to the recent historical centerpiece of the tragedy that rocked the world. They’re also very quick to point out that he donated $100,000 in his quick visit.
Let’s wipe away the press kowtowing and look at this for what it is. This is his first visit to a memorial that was opened nearly five years ago. That alone isn’t a big deal at all considering that he’s a very busy man and a celebrity that would draw potentially unwanted attention through his presence. What is a big deal is that he’s making a show of it and playing his voters for fools.
There are two primary hypocrisies at work, here:
- This is the most blatant form of political pandering that can possibly happen. Pandering is part of the game, but he’s railed against pandering in the recent past and shouldn’t have to use the most devastating terrorist attack on American soil to promote his political career. Why? Because he’s always been offensive and negative about everything associated with 9/11. Does anyone really believe that if the New York primary wasn’t next week, that he’d be making a stop now to honor the victims and their families?
- The other hypocrisy is that this is most likely his biggest personal charitable gift in years, perhaps ever. While his campaign loves to cheer about his $102 million in charitable giving over the years, the news that’s being swept under the rug is that he personally donated literally zero. That’s not his thing. He gets his rich friends to donate. He gives out free rounds of golf. He doesn’t stroke checks until the week before the New York primary.
$100,000 is a lot of money to most people, but to a billionaire like Trump it’s chump change. To put it into perspective, the average American made $50,756 last year. Trump claims to be worth $9 or $10 billion, but we’ll use the Forbes estimate of around $4 billion. $100,000 represents 0.0025% of his net worth. If the average American donated 0.0025% of their earnings ever year, they’d donate $1.27.
Don’t get me wrong – it’s a lot of money and a very generous gift for a worthy cause. However, the hypocrisy of pandering combined with his miserly donation record paints a poor picture of billionaire real estate mogul who wants to be President.
One more thing must be noted. His supporters like to echo his claim of being self-funded. He is not. He’s self-financed. He’s loaning his campaign money that will be paid back by his supporters’ donations. That’s why he has two big donate buttons on his website. That’s why he’s collected an estimated $10 million for his “self-funded” campaign. Every donated dollar goes back to Trump when the campaign is finished. When he is done, whether after winning or losing, his total “self-funding” will likely be under $300,000.
With nearly every move, Donald Trump creates two responses. One is the response of his rabid supporters who see him walking on water. The other is from the rest who are not listening to his siren call. Whether you see him as a hypocrite or savior is determined by your side of the fence.