During the campaign, Trump’s opponents spent a lot of time and energy digging up embarrassing comments the candidate had made over the years. Usually it was sexist stuff, sexual stuff, or comments about the attractiveness of his own daughter. The conclusion: Trump is a sleazeball.
Perhaps people should have been looking for something a bit darker.
In an unearthed New York Times transcript from 2009, WNYC art critic Deborah Solomon asks Trump about what he thinks about the phrase “all men are created equal” – what many consider the very cornerstone of American democracy. Trump wasn’t a big fan. Instead, Trump expresses support for the theory that there are superior genetics that enable certain people to thrive and others to fail.
TRUMP: It’s not just wanting to be a champion, you need certain ingredients. They say all men are created equal. It doesn’t get any more famous bus, is it true?
If “all men are created equal” is the cornerstone of American democracy. “Genetic superiority” is the cornerstone of Nazi fascism. Something that, as writer Brian Buetler points out, creates quite a few problems when coupled with Trump’s history of racism.
The new president is a genetic determinist AND a racist—two things that have never created problems in combination. https://t.co/sYbOrPQKxy
— Brian Beutler (@brianbeutler) January 17, 2017
But it’s when Solomon follows up with Trump one what he thinks about the phrase “all men are created equal” that things get truly bonkers.
TRUMP: It’s not true. Some people are born very smart, some people are born not so smart. Some people are born very beautiful and some people are not so you can’t say that’re all created equal.
SOLOMON: They’re entitled to equal treatment under the law. I think that’s what the statement means. It doesn’t mean everybody has the same endowments.
TRUMP: That’s correct. The phrase is used often so much and it’s a very confusing phrase to a lot of people.
To summarize: Donald Trump does not understand that when the Founding Fathers wrote that all men were created equal they meant under the law. He thought they literally meant “exactly the same in every way.” He then pretends this is a “very confusing phrase to a lot of people” to cover for the fact that he is literally the only one confused by this simple distinction. He was born “not so smart” as he might say.
This is not the first sign that Trump believes that some people (specifically himself and his family) come from superior stock. He frequently cites his own genetic superiority when referring to his success. When he was asked recently to name a hero he looks up to, he couldn’t come up with any. He said that his own skills as a businessman come from a “natural trait” and that you “either have it or you don’t.”
In a CNN interview, Trump was singing the same tune:
“I think I was born with a drive for success. I had a father who was successful. He was a builder in Brooklyn and Queens. And he was successful and, you know, I have a certain gene. I’m a gene believer. Hey, when you connect two racehorses, you usually end up with a fast horse. And I really was, you know, I had a good gene pool from the standpoint of that.”
The disturbing way Trump talks about his own genes even got an entire write-up at Mother Jones with the author concluding that when it comes to Trump’s worldview:
…you need good genes, Trump-type genes, to succeed and score big in this not-everyone-is-created-equal world. In that case, there’s not much point in trying to teach inferior Trump wannabes to be like the superior Trump, unless your aim is to redistribute wealth—from them to you. But, in keeping with Trump’s elitist belief in the power of genes, this setup might be called financial Darwinism.
Ironically, Trump’s supporters voted for him under the belief that Trump would make them as rich as he is. It’s a lie that Trump explicitly told them. He had (secret) plans to help every American achieve a life of opulence. It was the same pitch he used to sell his Trump University “tuition” to the gullible – and the same pitch that would eventually lead to him settling a fraud case for $25 million.
Featured image via Angelo Merendino/Getty Images