As surely everyone in the developed world knows at this point, Donald Trump was elected the 45th president of the United States in an upset on Tuesday, leading to a series of protests (and riots) in retaliation. Now that Trump is imminently headed toward Pennsylvanian Avenue, some are questioning how he will handle his business.
Currently, there is no formal legislation dictating how the president’s previous business interests are handled upon inauguration. Some elects choose to continue to play an active role in their outside ventures while in office, such as Barack Obama and his book royalties and LBJ with his broadcasting corporations. Others choose to relinquish their assets to a blind trust, or an individual/firm that takes responsibility for executive actions of the enterprises for the duration of tenure. When control is given to a blind trust, the owner who surrendered power of has no knowledge or say of the actions taken.
It seems that Donald Trump has taken the latter of these two options; Trump Inc. will be handed to his children Don, Ivanka, and Eric. This seems to be a smart idea on the president-to-be’s part, for many have noted that maintaining control would lead to serious conflicts of interest, and his ability to separate himself from the business that he treasures so much helps to solidify the narrative that he is all in for the presidency. Some, however, are still dissatisfied with the measures being taken, claiming that there are not nearly enough degrees of separation between him and trustees (as they’re his children) and that some of his properties (namely his luxury D.C. Hotel) lease from the government, making him the head of both sides of the transaction.
From a rhetorical standpoint, Trump’s soft attempt at separation supports the liberal narrative that he is in office for selfish gain and could drive the preexisting gap between the parties further apart (which is hard to imagine), but also manages to support the conservative claim that he is willing to part with his business in order to focus on the presidency. The fact of the matter is, however, that nothing illegal occurs even if Trump plays a hand in his business while in office. Trump hasn’t had any problems with upsetting the liberal population even during the candidacy, and now that he’s elected, I doubt he will start.
On a side note: wow what a roller coaster of an election, right?
In this election, there has been a lot of discussion pertaining special interests that both candidates may have outside of the US government. Clinton has recently come under fire (again) for alleged pay-for-play operations favoring those that make “charitable” donations to the Clinton Foundation. Trump’s outside interests, on the other hand, are inseparable from his self-praised corporate mastery; many of his investments are linked to foreign countries’ professional and political elite.
Although Trump’s business transactions are not new information, many are beginning to question whether or not his corporate affiliations will affect diplomacy between nations in the event of his election. Those who are concerned about his foreign relations cite the Scottish resort debacle (which led to him suing the Scottish government and effectively caused homeowners in the surrounding area to despise him) and the countless allegations of failed payments within the nation as indicators of his insolence. If these negative trends continue into his other business ventures, it could be incredibly bad for US operations, namely in high stress places places like Syria, where Trump and Turkey’s Dogan (who is responsible for attacking US backed Kurds forces) share assets in a media conglomerate. Are these corporate interests affecting Trump’s chances at the oval office?
Any answer to this question is obviously speculative. While some cite this as one of the factors in their hesitancy to side with Trump, the previous interactions that Trump has with foreign officials may be just a large an asset as they are a hindrance. I personally feel that, with most things that have potential positive and negative ramifications, the perception depends on the presentation. If Trump’s campaign were to address these points and attempt to frame them in a positive light, as an in and direct, healthy relationship with bureaucrats that could affect the future of the United States’ success, it could be a serious advantage. It especially could be seen as a leg up on Clinton, whose Benghazi foreign policy blunder has been dominating the media and haunted her campaign. Truth be told, however, this only way this will really come into play is if the investigation of the Clinton Foundation seriously incriminates her, which is unlikely to happen within the next five days.
The third and final debate in the 2016 Presidential Election was arguably the most coherent debate of the series. Both parties raised legitimate concerns about the opposition while still maintaining a degree of dignity and composure. Trump accosted Clinton for her inability to bring about change over the last 30 years in regard to trade, her minority pandering, and her foreign policy blunders in the Middle East. In retaliation, Clinton attacked Trump’s tax cuts for the wealthy (calling them “trickle-down economics on steroids”), his disgusting attitude towards women, and, most notably (other than his declaration he may not accept the results of the election), the way in which he conducts his business.
The main points made by Clinton were that, in spite of Trump’s vehement opposition to exporting jobs and using foreign resources in production, Trump Inc. has shifted jobs to 12 different countries and uses Chinese steel in the production of many of their buildings. This was especially damning as this point was made directly after he expressed his desires to regulate trade in favor of US production.
Although many speculated that Clinton would refrain from an offensive during this debate, both came out swinging. The implication of Clinton’s ad hominem attack is more significant than one might think. The cornerstone of Trump’s economic strategy has been that he plans on bringing manufacturing jobs, namely auto-production jobs, back to the United States. When Clinton directly acknowledged that his business’ actions fail to live up to his own standard, a dissonance was created; the validity of his argument was impeded because his actions and his plans do not align.
The implications of this misalignment produce a lack of trust within (mostly undecided) voters’ minds. The apparent irony in a decline in Trump’s trustworthiness is that, throughout the campaign, he has attempted to frame Hillary as untrustworthy. Now, it appears, that Trump has put himself in a position where he is seen as unstable, untrustworthy, and unable to accept defeat.
When Trump announced that he was going to run for candidacy in June, many people speculated that it was more of a business move than it was a legitimate attempt at a campaign. Although this notion has fallen into the background as election season has progressed, the conversation surrounding Trump’s business has not. In fact, Trump’s business savvy has become one of the cornerstones of his campaign, as noted by profound quotes such as, “Here’s good news, I’m very rich.”
Recently, however, it has come to light that Trump’s venture into the political realm may be hindering the growth of his brand, stagnating the development of his golf courses, hotels, and various other properties. With these developments in mind, in addition to the several other losses that have come to light during this campaign, it has occurred to many that the foundation of Trump’s candidacy may be invalid. The rhetoric surrounding Trump’s business endeavors has obviously been skewed by both parties. The left wing pushes that Trump is a flop and the right wing asserts that he is a business leviathan. These massive differences in the perception of Trump, Inc. can be interpreted as a version of Bernstein’s corporate dissonance.
In essence, corporate dissonance is the difference between the way in which a business says that it runs and the way in which it actually runs. The ramifications of Trump’s businesses being in the red not only include his net profits being down, but his image as a candidate and as a mogul being diminished as well. This campaign may prove to be a detrimental move for Trump in regards to both politics and business alike, as he is down in both business development and the poles.
In a strange chain of events, one of the largest controversies in the sea of controversies that is the 2016 Presidential Election has been quelled. A group or individual from within the Trump organization sent The New York Times a letter containing excerpts of Trump’s tax returns. Trump’s vehement refusal to release his records (which makes him the first GOP candidate to do so since Nixon nine election cycles ago) led many to question the legitimacy of his business practices, and more detrimentally, of his tycoon-esque persona. After this leak, it is evident that these concerns were pretty realistic.
According to the leaked documents, Trump’s supposed avoidance of income tax (that he believes ‘makes him smart’) is the byproduct of an almost $1 billion (nine zeros!) loss in 1995 when he was attempting to open a casino. This serious of a loss apparently constitutes a break from income tax for twenty years and thus we have the logic behind his choice to withhold the information.
Does it Matter?
At the end of the day, the most important question to ask in light of the slew of scandals that have been occurring is, “Who cares?”. In short, my opinion is a resounding ‘no one’. Trump’s lack of success in the business world and his reliance on his father’s bailouts isn’t new information; it has been readily available for those who seek it out for some time now. At this point in the race, Clinton and Trump have their core supporters. Another example of a failed business is not going to hurt Trump just as another batch of released emails is not going to affect Hillary. If anything, I feel that Trump’s biggest concerns should be his inability to perform in debates or refrain from witching-hour Twitter rants. Trump’s business is the last of his worries; his inherent instability and perceived lack of intelligence will be his downfall long before his corporate savviness comes into play.
NOTE: This was supposed to be posted on Thursday Oct. 6th, but there were problems with WordPress.