A disturbing thought crossed my mind recently — happens a lot in these troubling times. What if Donald Trump had been born and was politically active in bygone years? What might he have said and done? Here are four scenarios, each with a brief introduction.
The Tea Act of May 1773, allowed the British East India Tea Company to sell tea from China without paying taxes at a time when the colonies were increasingly taxed by the Townshend Acts of 1767-68 on goods imported from England. As a statement of defiance and protest, colonists (some dressed as Native Americans) destroyed an entire shipment of tea by the East Indian Tea Company. What would Donald Trump, as a member of the Massachusetts Bay Colony government, have said about this incident?
“‘No taxation without representation,’ they shouted. Outrageous, I tell you. Outrageous! Imposing taxes is the king’s right. Hoodlums, thugs, they dumped over 300 chests of tea overboard and dare call themselves Sons of Liberty. I have a better name. Traitors! All of them guilty of treason. The scoundrels must be rounded up by the King’s soldiers and promptly executed, starting with that disgusting wretch Samuel Adams. Hang them, hang them now, I say, from the tallest trees in Boston. Let them swing in the wind for all to see what awaits treasonous behavior. The worst of them speak of independence. Sheer madness. Without the guiding hand of our sovereign the colonies would collapse, good Christian people once again at the mercy of heathen savages. What we need in Massachusetts — in all the colonies — is an iron fist of order and obedience. Loyalists must control the streets, crush the traitors now and forever! Long live the king, I say. Long live King George!”
The Seneca Falls Women’s Rights Convention took place in July 1848. Based on the Declaration of Independence, a Declaration of Rights and Sentiments was presented and signed by 68 women and 32 men. The first sentence of the second paragraph set the tone, stating, “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men and women are created equal …” The first of 16 sentiments noted that men had denied women the vote. How would New York state representative Donald Trump have reacted to this declaration?
“Can you imagine anything more insane than men and women are equal? Blasphemy, I tell ya — against the laws of God and nature. Give women the vote? Preposterous! Everyone knows females are incapable of rational thought — too stupid to be involved in politics. You ever seen the women at those equality demonstrations? Most are fat and ugly, none more so than that cow Elizabeth Cady Stanton. No doubt these equality hags are in league with the devil. Remember the Salem witch trials and what happened to those vile creatures? What the she-devils need is a good … a good man to care for ’em. But most of these disgusting old crones don’t want a man, if you know what I mean. Crazy man-hating spinsters, got nothin’ better to do then spout equality, ‘We want the vote’ nonsense. Go home and clean the house, tend the garden, cook dinner — make babies. And above all, obey your man, if you can find one. Do what God put you on this earth for, and keep your ungrateful, un-American mouths shut.”
After the initial surge of Civil War enlistments diminished significantly, both the Confederacy and the Union turned to a draft, the former in 1862 and the latter in 1863. The draft law in the North allowed a man conscripted to pay a $300 commutation fee (an enormous amount of money) that exempted him from service during that specific draft lottery. The second option was to find and pay a substitute who would exempt a draftee from military service for the duration of the war. What would New York City businessman Donald Trump have done if he had been drafted?
“I did that man a good turn, a very big favor. Gave him $250 and a half-lame horse to take my place in the army. Lots of money for an illiterate potato eater just off the boat from Ireland. He was pleased, but his wife, furious, begged him not to do it. He was killed a few months later. Better him than me. But his family won’t go hungry, at least not for a while. And they can be grateful, very grateful for my kindness. A wonderful law allowing for substitutions. Everyone has their duty, their role in this fight. The common man — let’s be honest, the expendable man — on the battlefield, and patriotic, highly intelligent businessmen like me to produce war materials, at a healthy profit, of course. Someone left a box of female undergarments at my door with a note saying if I was going to run from a fight like a woman, I should start dressing like one. Ignorant peasant. Against my better judgment I’ll offer the war widow a job cleaning toilets with the colored women. How long before we’re overrun by Italians, Poles, Greeks and Chinamen? They’re more disgusting than the stinking Irish. Damn immigrants, they’ll ruin this country.”
In “Hitler’s American Friends,” historian Bradley Hart notes how many Americans in the 1930s considered fascism and anti-Semitism either highly attractive or unobjectionable. The German American Bund was a pro-Nazi, German-American organization that attacked the FDR administration, Jewish-American groups, communism and “Moscow-directed” trade unions. It’s April 1939, and Republican Donald Trump is campaigning to capture his party’s nomination and challenge FDR in 1940.
“Four more years of Roosevelt and this country will be destroyed. FDR and his alphabet soup of government-run, communist programs — the CCC, WPA, CWA, FHA — will turn us into another godless Russia. What this country needs is a strong leader, strong in mind and body. We need an ironed-willed man like Hitler or Mussolini, someone to defend capitalism and halt the spread of Soviet communism. My friends, I am that man. But a victory won’t be easy. FDR has powerful allies, starting with the ever-lying, evil press. Journalists and editors bought and paid for by Jews are the most dangerous people in America and must be stopped, locked up. Hundreds of newspapers shut down. Only then will Americans learn the truth, and I will provide that truth. Last week a woman approached me, fell to her knees, weeping tears of joy. ‘You are the one,’ she cried, ‘the chosen one. God told me so.’ That saintly woman is correct; I am the chosen one, the man ordained by the good Lord to save this great nation, lead us to the promised land of earthly prosperity — defeat the liberals, atheists, sodomites and communists. With you at my side, brothers and sisters, with God’s blessings and guidance to protect us, we cannot, will not fail. A new day, a great day is near. Praise the Lord! And vote.”
Different times, same Donald Trump: an arrogant, lying, hypocritical, heartless, greedy, ignorant, manipulative, racist, sexist, draft-dodging coward.
George J. Bryjak lives in Bloomingdale and is retired after 24 years of teaching sociology at the University of San Diego.
“Boston Tea Party” (accessed 2020) History, www.history.com
Bradley, T. (2018) “Hitler’s American Friends: The Third Reich’s Supporters in the United States,” St. Martin’s/Thomas Dunne Books: New York
McPherson, J. (1988 ) “Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era,” Oxford University Press: New York
“Seneca Falls Convention” (accessed 2020) History, www.history.com
“Women’s Rights — Declaration of Sentiments” (accessed 2020) National Parks Service, www.nps.gov