Perspectives: Harding vs. Trump

Warren G. Harding vs. Donald J. Trump

“The man who has no sense of history, is like a man who has no ears or eyes” said Adolf Hitler, at some point briefly before invading Russia in the dead of Winter. While he may not have followed his own advice to a “T,” it is important to look at the past to understand the present and the future. In the 2016 election cycle, the Republican party has nominated Donald J. Trump as their candidate, an extraordinary figure who resembles Warren G. Harding in more ways than one. “But Warren Harding was a terrible president!” you say. Huh that’s weird.

One of Trump’s first big media splashes occurred in October of 2015, when he said “It has not been easy for me, it has not been easy for me. And you know I started off in Brooklyn, my father gave me a small loan of a million dollars.” He received much criticism for this statement, as a million dollar loan is no small thing. Interestingly, Warren Harding also received a loan from his father, and he used these funds to start a newspaper. As I’m just presenting facts here, I won’t draw the strange similarity between this behavior, and that “Money-borrowing” behavior attributed to a “tyrant-in-the-making” in Plato’s Republic, Book IX.

A startling similarity between the two men and their success is their method of business. Andrew Sinclair, one of Harding’s biographers, said “The success of Harding with the Star [The newspaper which he started with his father’s finances] was certainly in the model of Horatio Alger. He started with nothing, and though working, stalling, bluffing, withholding payments, borrowing back wages, boasting, and manipulating, he turned a dying rag into a powerful small- town newspaper.” I’m confident that I don’t need to list off any of Trump’s manipulative business tactics, but just for fun, here’s the link to an Atlantic article on the many scandals he has been involved in for some time: scandals/474726/. It’s a good thing that someone’s business tactics don’t carry over into the way they behave as a president, or Donald Trump would be a terrible president, as was evidenced by Harding.

On foreign policy, Trump and Harding differ in many areas, but luckily for this article, Trump and Harding share very similar “America is just for white people” sentiments. Donald Trump has subtly hinted several times that he is against the immigration of Muslims, and Harding was against the legal entry of Italians and Eastern-European Jews. I mean, racism can be ok, so maybe this is a weaker argument. You decide.

Trump has received significant media coverage for his many sexually explicit remarks and general inappropriateness. One of my favorite quotes from him is “If Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her.” Since his crude nature is largely known, I’ll refrain from any more quotes, and instead give you some Harding quotes. Here’s one of my favorite sections of one of Harding’s love poems to his mistress:

“If I had you today, I’d kiss and fondle you into my arms and hold you there until you said, ‘Warren, oh, Warren,’ in a benediction of blissful joy rather like that encore discovered in Montreal. Did you?”
And that’s just a very small sampling. Please do Google the rest of that poem, and be horrified for hours. Related to their sexual inappropriateness, Trump and Harding had multiple sexual partners, and were rather immoral characters. But that’s none of my business. After all, we discovered with Bill Clinton that a President’s character has nothing to do with his ability to rule.

Lastly and most importantly, I want to briefly look at why Warren G. Harding was elected. Malcolm Gladwell, in Blink, his book on first impressions, describes something called the “Warren Harding error.” Essentially, Warren Harding looked presidential, and he was then elected President. He just looked like a President. Sinclair, Harding’s biographer, said (about Harding) “Much of his success had to do with his good looks, affability, enthusiasm, and persistence.” Trump changed his name from Drumpf, and one of his many “likable” qualities is his ability to speak his mind and appear in charge. These are not qualities necessary in a Presidential candidate, but the American people seem to think so. Indeed, the way Trump carries himself is very presidential. In fact, it reminds me a lot of the ways Harding carried himself.

This article is purely for fun, and should in no way show the reader that Trump eerily shares many terrible qualities with one of the worst presidents of all time.