If you’ve been on the internet this past week, you’ve no doubt seen Colin Kaepernick’s powerful Nike ad. You’ve also seen the disgusting backlash to the ad. Conservatives angry that Nike is doing what NFL teams refuse to (hiring Colin Kaepernick) have decided that destroying all of their property is the only logical recourse.
As a budding right-wing culture warrior with no political principles beyond “my daddy is the best,” Donald Trump Jr. has joined them in their outrage. He posted a “fixed” Kaepernick meme to his Instagram account suggesting his billionaire father is “sacrificing everything” for his beliefs.
“There, fixed it for you. #maga,” the caption reads. Hope he got the “attaboy” from dear daddy that he so desperately wants!
The idea that Donald Trump is somehow “sacrificing” something to be president is a pretty common trope on the right. It’s also dead wrong. Republicans like to say that because Trump is filthy rich, he doesn’t have to be president. He could be living the good life, scamming investors and contractors and doing shady real estate deals—like in the old days! He just loves his country so much, the story goes, that he’s willing to give all that up in order to “make America great again.”
What this story omits are the many ways Trump is profiting from his own presidency. By not placing his business into a blind trust, Trump stands to make money from the decisions he makes as president. Indeed, he doubled membership fees at his Mar-A-Lago resort soon after he won the election. He also visits there often, which promotional material for the club was careful to note to lure wealthy would-be power players eager to have the president’s ear.
Visiting foreign dignitaries, well aware that Trump is susceptible to flattery (and apparently bribery), routinely book rooms and host events at his D.C. hotel. Earlier this year, the government of Qatar spent $6.5 million on a condo in Trump World Tower a couple weeks after a judge tossed a lawsuit alleging Trump was violating the “emolument’s clause” of the Constitution, which says that a president cannot receive material benefits while in office.
Speaking of Qatar, after the Kushner family failed to ink a deal with the Middle Eastern country in 2017, the Trump administration supported a Saudi-led blockade of the country (ostensibly a U.S. ally). Middle Eastern relations are part of Jared Kushner’s White House ridiculously broad White House portfolio, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has reportedly boasted he has the Trump son-in-law “in his pocket.” That same prince recently went on a lavish spending spree at another Trump property, making the hotel profitable for the first time in years.
Obviously, the list of these transparently corrupt abuses goes on, but there is one note of truth in Don Jr.’s thirsty meme: Donald Trump has definitely (and unwillingly) sacrificed the lack of legal scrutiny he benefitted from prior to assuming office. Robert Mueller’s investigation has already reached Trump’s shady business dealings, and multiple Trump confidants have flipped on the president to cooperate. If the Democrats win back the House in the 2018 midterm elections, they too will investigate Trump’s corruption.
If he had only stayed a slimy real estate tycoon (or a laughable reality TV buffoon), Trump might have lived a long life and taken his many alleged crimes to his grave. Unfortunately for him, and all of us, he did not.