It’s not often that American presidents publicly praise international trade wars, which is probably why this overnight tweet from Donald Trump was seen as important across the globe.
“When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win. Example, when we are down $100 billion with a certain country and they get cute, don’t trade anymore-we win big. It’s easy!”
It’s important to understand that Donald Trump lacks any kind of meaningful understanding of what trade deficits are and what they mean. Trade wars are not, in fact, “good,” and this president’s economic illiteracy remains a serious national threat.
But for me, the two most important words in the presidential missive were actually the last two: “It’s easy!”
As a candidate for the nation’s highest office, despite lacking any experience in government or public service, Donald Trump repeatedly assured voters that every challenge had a simple solution, and the only reason policymakers hadn’t yet implemented these easy solutions is that the nation was run by idiots. Elect Trump, he said, and he’d “make possible every dream you’ve ever dreamed.”
Implicit in the promise was the belief in child-like simplicity. ISIS? Trump would bomb the terrorists, they’d die, and that would be that. Corruption? He’d “drain the swamp.” Health care? He’d cover everyone, offering better insurance for less money.
If you had a complex problem, Trump had an easy solution that could fit on a bumper sticker. After all, “it’s easy.”
After the election, effectively nothing changed. Indeed, Trump continues to respond to deeply intricate challenges like he’s the blowhard at the end of the bar who’s convinced he knows the solution to every problem. Opiods? Let’s just execute drug dealers. Immigration? Let’s just built a wall.
At his White House discussion with senators this week about gun violence, Trump said about proposed solutions, “I don’t understand why this hasn’t happened. For the last 20 years, nothing’s happened.” He was being entirely literal: the president really doesn’t understand, largely because he hasn’t followed the debate and doesn’t take the time to get up to speed on the basics.
The comments came a week after Trump argued that arming school teachers would prevent school shootings. “Problem solved,” he wrote on Twitter.
Except, responsible adults know that solving problems with overly simplified, knee-jerk ideas nearly always leads to failure. Our amateur president, however, continues to struggle with the complexities of his responsibilities, either unable or unwilling to recognize nuanced solutions.
Issues like international trade are incredibly difficult, and yet, there’s Trump, not only assuring the public that “trade wars are good,” but also insisting that winning is “easy.”
The sooner the president removes that word from his vocabulary, the better off we’ll be.