In the summer of 2015, when Donald Trump first decided to run for president, I knew very little about him. I was aware of his famous catchphrase, “you’re fired,” and his cameo in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. I also understood that most people thought he was an asshole. Oh, I also was familiar with his toupe. No further research was needed before 2015.
Over the next several months, I came to understand Trump a lot more as he campaigned on a narcissistic, bigoted, and hateful platform. I listened to soundbites of his speeches and I felt déjà vu. When he spoke of the wall between Mexico and the United States, such a hair-brained scheme that it seemed like it had to have been a joke, it became apparent why I knew him: Donald Trump was my dad. Not my literal dad, but Trump acted, spoke, and thought exactly like my dad did when he was alive. Building a wall between Mexico and the United States was exactly something he would propose. If my dad had a wealthy father who gave him access to unlimited cash and power expressly so he could squander it all away on parties and failed investments, I’m confident my dad could’ve run for president and won. Unfortunately, my grandfather drove a cab for most of his life, so my dad was destined to aim for a much more moderate level of success.
If given the opportunity to become the most powerful leader of the world, I'm certain my dad would, also, have insisted on throwing parades in his honor and spend most of his time talking about how fantastic of a president he was without actually doing any work to substantiate the claim. When we were younger, he would routinely stage re-enactments of the crucifixion and would loudly declare "I AM GOD" and in a whisper add the disclaimer "of this house," lest the lord be eavesdropping on his tirade. Both Trump and my dad are all about the pomp and circumstance. The louder and flashier the appreciation of their beauty and greatness, the better. Just don't ask them to do anything to actually earn it.
Both native New Yorkers, my dad stood tall under the banner “great businessman” much like Trump does. Trump and my dad, also, had similar concepts of what constitutes “good business.” My dad opened an insurance agency fifty years ago with one guiding concept that would assure his success: “location, location, location.” He decided that the best place to open one was across the street from the DMV. He set up the agency, put a bell on top of it (which he claimed was a historic mission bell to get publicity), and then proceeded to sleep until noon every day while my mom ran the business. His instincts were right. His location was so ideal that, within a decade, other insurance agencies piggy-backed onto his success. While Trump sleeps a lot less than my dad did, my dad ran his business the same way Trump runs his. When my dad wasn’t sleeping until noon or putting in two hours of work a day in at his office, he was losing money on the stock market and scheming to defraud the system of money. No matter how good of advice he got, he always ignored it and went with his instincts, which ended up costing him a lot of money.
My dad was, also, just as litigious as Trump is. When my sister Sarah married a lawyer, his eyes lit up with delight. He immediately got to work on making every one of his lawsuit fantasies a reality. He took everyone to task, including the people who constructed a curb that he once tripped over. Although Trump has participated in more lawsuits than my dad, given the difference in finances, I’d imagine their litigations were comparable.
My dad, like Trump, believed in tokenism to negate any accusations that he was a racist. At a campaign rally in Nothern California, Trump said: “where’s my African American” about a man named Gregory Cheadle who was at his rally. My dad, also, had a token black friend. If he said something racist, which he always would, he’d pull out a picture of his black “son” Dwayne. He was a man he met at a bar and became good friends with. He called him “son” because he sounded much less racist than if he were just a friend.
Another trick used by Trump and my dad to detract attention away from their fatal flaws is gaslighting. This is the process by which one manipulates another person into questioning his or her concept of truth or reality. Trump does this by calling African Nations “shithole countries” in front of numerous witnesses and immediately denying it. My dad gaslit us by giving us only fictional accounts of his life and boldface assertions that his perceptions of reality are the only true ones. Whenever my siblings and I brought up our grievances with our childhood, he would deny that any of it had happened. His insistence would lead me to wonder whether the things I remembered happening were real. My dad even one time convinced me I was drunk one night in high school when I hadn’t had anything to drink. Sure, I was drunk most of high school, but that night I happened to be sober. He stood so firm, though, that I started to wonder whether I was drunk despite not having anything to drink. My dad and Trump's insistence that falsehoods are truths is probably one of the more aggravating commonalities between Trump and my dad.
While they gaslight us, Trump eats and my dad ate absolute garbage and call(ed) it health food. Trump has a heart condition as my dad did. Did they both give up junk food and start exercising more after they were diagnosed? Nope. Trump took up golf and my dad would go to the YMCA sometimes to spend five minutes using an upper body ergometer (still wearing his jeans and dress shoes, no need for workout clothes here). Also, they continued to eat at fast food restaurants with slight modifications to their orders. Trump eats a Filet O’ Fish without bread (you know, cause Atkins etc..). My dad would order a Chicken Fajita Pita without cheese from Jack in the Box. This along with some medications, they believed, is/was enough to keep heart disease at bay.
For Trump and my dad, spin is everything. When hundreds of thousands of women took to the streets to protest Trump, he tweeted, “Beautiful weather all over our great country, a perfect day for all Women to March. Get out there now to celebrate the historic milestones and unprecedented economic success and wealth creation that has taken place over the last 12 months. Lowest female unemployment in 18 years!” Women all across the country screamed in frustration as they found their vehement protest fell on deaf ears. My dad would act similarly whenever my siblings and I would yell at him. He’d laugh and say, “my dear, look how much you love me." His insistence that we were expressing affection would further enrage us, and we'd yell louder. He would laugh some more and tell us that he loved us.
At the end of the day, there’s one infuriating truth that ties both these men together. For most of my life, I waited for some apology from my dad; some kind of acknowledgment that what he did during his life was hurtful. That apology never ended up coming. So, for all of the world who is waiting with bated breath for Donald Trump’s grand apology, take a bit of advice from someone who watched the trajectory of his doppelganger's life: he’ll die before he ever apologizes.