Trying To Understand

We are still trying to understand how it is that voters in the United States decided to plunge into the abyss, giving the presidency to Donald Trump. Those who live in states making up the so-called “Blue Wall” of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Iowa, and Minnesota have for years undergone a deteriorating quality of life affecting the mortality rate due primarily to two factors: an increase in drug addiction and suicide.

Some news outlets have dusted off articles with interviews of people from these states (minus Wisconsin, since nobody imagined there could be so many disenchanted Democrats who would end up handing the state to Trump) whose stories were pushed aside during the campaign, in hindsight now explaining quite well the disillusion with their current lives and with their governing party.

What remains inexplicable is that the response was Trump. During the campaign, it was clear that Trump was an unstable individual; someone who could say one thing then change his mind right after. He is everything that he showed himself to be: misogynistic, intolerant of criticism, tolerant of racism and otherwise a conman [with] a long list of other misdoings.

But now during the transition, we have seen all of this and much more. The investigation he wanted of Hillary Clinton’s email usage pales with that of his own universities and how he sold courses to students given by instructors without the academic content they were promised. The investigation concluded with a fine of $25 million, to be paid by the president-elect. Unbelievable.

Trump also called his opponent “crooked” for her handling of international political relationships as secretary of state while also receiving donations for the Clinton Foundation.

But he didn’t only cast blame on Hillary, he also denounced some of the meetings and people he claimed had benefitted from underhandedness by the Clintons. One involves a Ukrainian businessman in the steel industry, Victor Pinchuk, from whom the Clinton Foundation received a donation of $8.6 million in 2012, according to Trump.

This has not been proven, but what is certain is that this same pro-Russian oligarch paid the Trump Foundation $150,000 for a 21-minute video that the now-president-elect shared on YouTube in September 2015 for the Yalta European Strategy Conference.

The payment made by Pinchuk was to the Foundation, not to Trump himself, because he could then avoid the associated tax. Remember that in the U.S., donations are tax-free. Two things in the Washington Post story are striking:

The first is the content of the video in which Trump says that Crimea should belong to Russia, contrary to what the United States and Europe have argued since Putin’s invasion of the Ukrainian peninsula. He talks about that, about Obama’s weakness, and how badly Europe and the U.S. have treated Russia.

The second is that this is not the only time Trump has taken payments that should have been paid directly to him or his business for services rendered, thereby paying tax on that income. Instead, these payments wound up in the account for his foundation. It is one thing to question a corporation for evading taxes and altogether another for a politician on the verge of becoming the next president of the United States.

But all this seems perfectly normal for Trump … and his supporters who see these misdeeds as but one more nuisance of his sordid past.

I still cannot grasp how this man successfully convinced the majority of the citizens in the states needed to win the Electoral College and with it, the presidency of the United States.

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