For this election cycle, Republican candidate Donald Trump's hinges on one of his main selling points: that he is the “change” candidate. Nevermind the positive change we’ve already seen over the past 8 years--from the United States’ groundbreaking involvement in the global fight against climate change, to the national legislation that legalized marriage for same-sex couples. The real change is yet to come--that is, only under a Trump administration, as the Republican presidential nominee Mike Pence made sure to firmly reiterate during the Republican National Convention in the late summer months.
But as a reasonably skeptical citizen, every American should be questioning whether Donald J. Trump can deliver on his promise. This year’s election cycle was preceded by a recession, an increase in global terrorism and decreasing public faith in the government as well as the democracy as a whole. And this particular presidential run only continued this trend due to a steady emergence of half-truths, ranging from e-mail server handlings to candidate federal income tax reporting. With this kind of aura, it is no surprise the American people remain circumspect towards future claims coming out of both major party leaders--and rightfully so.
Sure, Donald Trump says he can bring change to an entire nation well over a quarter-billion people. But perhaps a valid question is, can he show that he has brought change to at least one person: himself?
The scorecard leading up to now isn’t great evidence that he has. Earlier last month, the Washington Post released a video from 2005 where Trump provides first-hand testimonies of what we would call sexual assault, including kissing women without consent and grabbing their genitals. And this is was just one many documentations of Donald Trump’s mindset towards women--we also have known the Republican presidential candidate to compare marriage to a woman to “creating a building”. And who can forget his never-ending feud with Rosie O’Donnell, including when he referred to the actress/comedian as “a slob”?
Donald Trump can say whatever he wants as he comes under fire for these remarks years down the road. But despite whatever excuse or apology that he has to offer, the facts are there: the person you hear in these accounts is the past Donald Trump, unfiltered, unabridged and true to his word.
And what do we have to compare that to? Fast forward to the current decade, where Trump’s position in the political limelight has allowed us to get a better look into his thoughts and behavior, while also giving the businessman the opportunity to redefine himself and his values. And yet, we see the same narrative: in the span of five months, we have seen this man demonstrate a range of offensive rhetoric towards Muslims, Hispanics and Latinos, Black-Americans, the disabled, and POWs, just to name a few. And of course, he has not forgotten to take aim at women during this election season--perhaps for the nostalgia factor? His more recent transgressions include a series of nasty tweets directed at former Miss Universe winner Alicia Machado, insinuating that Fox News reporter Megyn Kelly’s questioning at the first Republican presidential race debate was as a result of her being on her period, and--maybe the Twitter-sphere’s favorite--a formal debate exchange with a particular “nasty woman”.
So is there any change seen between the Donald Trump of Past and Present? Perhaps. Maybe we could say that the “new” DJT has broadened his horizons, now willing to aim his ammunition towards just about any demographic (well, they did tell him to be more inclusive, didn’t they?). But overall, there has been no change. We still get the same over-privileged cis white male who feels that his opinion is superior to all others, and thinks that he can say or do anything and escape unscathed.
Granted, the election is still not set in stone, and there is a possibility Donald Trump could get into the White House and make the substantive change he’s been boasting about. But if we believe that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior, should the American people be convinced that the same-old Trump can bring change to our entire nation? And if we are, are we excited about what that change is going to look like?