While Donald Trump left office with the lowest approval ratings ever, I don’t think the Capitol riot should be his legacy. He’s got other losses to chalk, too.
There’s no greater insult than “loser” in the Trump vocabulary, which is remarkable because losing is one of Trump’s greatest talents. From his failed marriages to his failed businesses, multiple bankruptcies and sundered friendships, the man has failed upwards with exceptional success over his joyless lifetime.
And that run of quality failure characterised his presidency too, from his nonexistent wall on the southern border to the non-repeal of Obamacare to the badly botched pandemic he continually declared was both cynically overstated and about to end. But we should have guessed that would be the results since the losing started, ironically enough, with his greatest success.
Let’s skip through some of the man’s greatest losses, shall we?
Loss #1: The Popular Vote, 2016
Trump won the election with almost 63 million votes to Hillary Clinton’s almost 66 million, in one of the few elections where the victor wasn’t the person with the most votes, thanks to the way the US electoral system works.
Still, that early humiliation did make him obsessed with size, from insisting that his inauguration had the largest turnout ever despite photographic evidence to the contrary to spending literally months denying that he had tiny, tiny hands.
This, it turned out, was the high water mark.
Loss #2: The House, 2018
The Republicans found themselves in the rare and wonderful situation of holding the presidency and control of the House and the Senate, meaning they could pass whatever legislation they fancied. Yet they pushed through far less new law than expected, in part because the Commander in Chief didn’t seem especially bothered about that “governing” malarkey.
But then in the 2018 midterms, the Democrats wrested 41 seats from the Republicans, giving them control of the chamber and forcing the president and the Republicans to negotiate with them if they wanted to get anything much done.
And Trump handled the situation with grace and digni… kidding! Nah, he ordered the Senate to force the House to approve spending on the Border Wall (you know, the one Mexico was supposedly going to pay for? That one) by refusing to approve normal governmental spending, forcing the government into a 35-day shutdown during which all public employees had the choice of standing down or working for free.
This, he presumably thought, would win hearts and minds. Spoiler: it did not.
Loss #3: The popular vote, the electoral college and the Presidency, 2020
Thanks in large part to his administration’s utterly inept handling of the COVID-19 pandemic which is currently on track to claim half a million American lives, Trump clearly had an inkling that he wasn’t going to win re-election and therefore focussed mainly on claiming that the system was corrupt and he would be fraudulently robbed of his rightful victory.
And a shockingly large number of people bought this obvious bullshittery, but thankfully an even larger number of them voted instead for Joe Biden and the Democratic Party to the point where it wasn’t even especially close. Trump polled 74 million votes to Biden’s 81 million, the highest number of ballots cast in any US election in history.
The Democrats did go backwards in the House, losing nine seats but maintaining their majority, and failed to win control of the Senate – at least, until it was established that two of the senate seats in Georgia were won by less than a percentage point and therefore, as per the state’s election laws, forced two run off elections to be held early in the new year.
Loss #4: The Senate, 2021
While the Republicans were desperately trying to hang on to the seats of two of their admittedly most dreadful Senators, Trump was casting enough doubt on the electoral system to convince a small but important percentage of Georgia voters not to bother. And with their non-help, the Democrats managed to win both seats for Raphael Warnock (by a wide margin) and Jon Ossoff (by a relatively close one).
That handed the Democrats a working majority in the Senate with the seats at 50-50 Republican/Democrat, giving Vice President Kamala Harris the casting vote in the event of a tie.
Loss #5: The Republican Establishment, 2021
After handing the Senate to the new administration Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell started the stampede away from Trump, but it took a riot in the Capitol convinced all but the most hardcore MAGA heads that it was time to do a serious pivot away from a chap who was cool with overthrowing American democracy to placate his own ego.
Trump had been ramping up his “election done got stole!” rhetoric in the lead up to his Stop The Steal rally ahead of the ratification of the electoral college votes in the Capitol on January 6. His followers, thus inflamed, then ransacked the houses of Congress. Five people died as a result and over a hundred rioters are now facing charges after doing things like roaming the halls of the Senate with zip ties looking for Democrats to kidnap.
Many predicted that Trump would attempt to pardon them, but he didn’t remotely bother. Instead, with social media bans in place, he chickened out of attending the Biden inauguration and fled to Florida instead. You know, like a true leader.
He did hold himself a special farewell, which was attended by zero of the key Republicans who instead went to Biden’s inauguration.
But then, to add insult to political injury, came the hardest losses of all.
Loss #6: Deutsche Bank and The Proud Boys, 2021
With Trump keeping his head down and leaving his supporters to twist in the wind, the group who were perhaps his most vocal supporters – white supremacy-adjacent women-fearers The Proud Boys – decided that maybe their former Emperor was a simp cuck after all.
“Trump will go down as a total failure,” they wrote in private messages leaked to the New York Times, including orders not to attend any future Trump or Republican rallies. Which is a real shame, because how else will they meet women who won’t immediately take out AVOs against them?
And while question marks remain about a number of Trump’s personal debts coming due in the next 18 months, Deutsche Bank – one of the few financial institutions still willing to lend to him – have announced that they are no longer doing business with Trump or his businesses, which could make those repayment negotiations extra-spicy!
And it’s only January of a year that will contain the senate impeachment trial that could make Trump the first president in history to be (retroactively) stripped of office, not to mention a slew of state, federal and local lawsuits coming down the pipeline.
And sure, it’s easy – and fun! – to point out Trump’s many many many many losses. But in his defence, he’s winning as nobody has ever been winning before.
At least, at being a loser.