DONALD TRUMP has risked an international incident, reversing four decades of US policy with China by engaging with the president of Taiwan. Why did he do this? To lobby for the hotels he wants his company to develop in the Taiwanese city of Taoyuan. This one monumental blunder perfectly encapsulates why his egregious conflicts of interest represent a major threat to the security of the United States. It also demonstrates, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that his own economic interests are more important to him than his duties as president.
This brings to mind a study of 2016 voters published by the Brookings Institution. Trump may have won the Electoral College (for now), but Hillary Clinton captured not only the popular vote, but also the economic one. As Jim Tankersley of the Washington Post explains, “According to the Brookings analysis, the less-than-500 counties that Clinton won nationwide combined to generate 64 percent of America’s economic activity in 2015. The more-than-2,600 counties that Trump won combined to generate 36 percent of the country’s economic activity last year.
“Clinton, in other words, carried nearly two-thirds of the American economy.”
Meanwhile, when the Green Party announced its plans to initiate a recount in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, Jill Stein raised some four million dollars in two days.
Taken together, what these three items tell us is that:
- Donald Trump is motivated primarily by money,
- Supporters of Hillary Clinton have much, much more money than Trump’s voters, and
- Supporters of Hillary Clinton are willing to spend said money if it means the horror of a Trump presidency is avoided.
This begs the question: How much money would it take for Donald Trump to step down?
Sixty-five million people voted for Hillary Clinton. If each of those voters contributed $20 to a GoFundMe campaign for this purpose, that would come to $1.3 billion. That’s roughly one third of his net worth, per Forbes magazine—probably enough to make good with the Bank of China and the Russians. Would enough green to get him out of the red and back in black persuade Trump to turn the keys over to Mike Pence?
I have no idea if a severance package/buyout of this magnitude, given to a president-elect of these United States, is even legal. On the other hand, Trump violated the Logan Act by speaking to the president of Taiwan, and will violate the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution the day he’s sworn in, to say nothing of his embargo-breaking with respect to Cuba—and I won’t even mention the allegations of statutory rape and sexual assault—so maybe legality here is a matter of degree.
In corporate America, a world with which Trump is presumably familiar, this sort of thing is a commonplace. Underperforming CEO is given a “golden parachute” to hasten his or her departure—he might ask his old chum Carly Fiorina how this works. Think of the $1.3 billion not as a bribe, but as the world’s largest golden parachute.
Would the optics be good if Trump took the money? Of course not. But Trump’s greed overwhelms his defective sense of good optics, or of right and wrong. He’s going to exploit the American people for his own gain regardless; let’s have him do it up front, in the open, and dismiss him before he does any lasting damage to the country and the world (as he’s already doing by doubling down on his reckless critique of China via Twitter). His fawning fans will hail his keen business acumen no matter what he does (“Trump Cajoles Libtards Into Record Buyout”). And he’ll figure out a way to spin it that makes him appear heroic, as he managed with the laughably awful Carrier deal. Probably he’ll promise it to some vague charity and then never pony up. Whatever, I don’t care, as long as he leaves.
This essay began life as pure satire, my own little “Modest Proposal.” Now that I’ve reached the penultimate paragraph, however, I’m not so sure we shouldn’t try this for real and let it play out. Trump’s campaign itself, after all, began life as satire, did it not?
Would Donald Trump accept the largest golden parachute of all time to step down? I think we owe it to humanity to find out. So here’s the GoFundMe campaign (which apparently has a limit of $999,999,999 on campaign goals). January 20 is coming. Let’s offer the “deal artist” the deal of a lifetime.