If Trump Had Run for President In 1936 – PART II


By Ernest Kearney – The pundits proclaimed the ski lifts in Hell must be working overtime, for Donald Trump had won the Republican nomination for president when a great many Americans had rejected the statesman for a huckster.

For his vice-presidential running mate, Trump passed over the familiar faces of the party and picked the famous aviator Charles Lindbergh.

Lindbergh brought with him the America First organization, a group of ring wing isolationists who were suspected of being financed by Nazi Germany.

Asked if he any qualms that rumors of Nazi backing might be true, Trump shrugged it off, remarking he was sure there were fine people on both sides.

Lindbergh used his acceptance speech to denounce FDR as a warmonger while laboring to show himself as the outsider —

I’m not a politician, and have never wanted to be one. But when I saw the trouble our country was in, I knew I couldn’t stand by and watch any longer. Our country has been so good to me, I love our country, I felt I had to act.

He wanted his base to see him as one of them, someone who had overcome hardship to become a self-made man —

You know, I was dealt a lot of bad hands…. It has not been easy for me. I started off in Brooklyn.

But when reporters kept pressuring him about the help he received from his millionaire father, Trump shouted back —

My father gave me a small loan of a million dollars.

There was surprise among many of the old-time politicians over the devotion Trump’s supporters had for him despite all his stumbles and numerous revelations. They had no comprehension of the allure the appearance of power holds for those who feel helpless.

We are Americans,he proclaimed while promising them, “And the future belongs to us.

They believed him, and their faith —as faith tends to do— blinded them to all his flaws.

Power corrupts the few, while weakness corrupts the many.

The majority of religious conservatives endorsed Trump, none more ardently than Father Charles Coughlin, the right wing Detroit radio personality whose hatred of FDR, Jews and Russians was well known. He was the most vocal supporter of Trump’s wall.

When reporters questioned Trump as to his religious views, he was quick to answer,

I say God is the ultimate…. I’m going to treat my religion, which is Christian, with great respect and care.

Initially Trump, perhaps intimidated by his patrician bearing, was war of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. So instead of attacking the president he began with derogatory statements about Roosevelt’s Scottish Terrier Fala.

A canine as they call it,” he said mockingly of the Democrats. “I call it a dog.

The crowd at the rally roared with laughter at Trump derided Roosevelt as “stupid” for owning such a mutt.

Goofy… Unbelievable! Am I right?” he shouted out.

The next night, speaking at a dinner held by the International Teamsters Union, FDR delivered his response which was broadcast by the nation’s radio networks –

I am accustomed to hearing malicious falsehoods about myself,” he intoned. “But I think I have a right to resent, to object, to libelous statements about my dog.

The nation agreed. It was the first setback for Trump.

Some newspapers even criticized Trump for calling FDR “stupid,” writing that out of loyalty to the country the office of the Presidency shouldn’t be, thusly, insulted.

At his next rally, Trump denied the charges to supporters.

I think loyalty to the country, loyalty to the United States is important. I mean it depends on how you define loyalty.

The crowd nodded in agreement.

I don’t feel I insult people. I try and get to the facts and I don’t feel I insult people.” Puffing up he boasted, I went to an Ivy League school. I’m highly educated. I know words. I have the best words, I have the best, but there is no better word than stupid. Right…? What’s the point of having great knowledge and keeping them all to yourself?

The mistake many people made, even very smart ones, perhaps even FDR, was in thinking that it was Donald Trump who was stupid.

True, he wasn’t well-educated, well-read or wise, but neither was he stupid.

Donald Trump possessed a predator’s cunning, and a predator’s greatest strengths; he could sense the weakness of others, and he knew an unexpected attack held the most advantage.

So once more Trump threw the nation completely off balance with the wackiest of all his wacky accusations: that President Roosevelt was not an American citizen, and had, in fact, been born in Pucklechurch, South Gloucestershire England!

I have people that have been studying [FDR’s birth certificate] and they cannot believe what they’re finding… I would like to have him show his birth certificate….if he can’t, if he wasn’t born in this country, which is a real possibility…then he has pulled one of the great cons in the history of politics.

An extremely credible source,” he asserted to his open-mouthed listeners, “has called my office and told me that the President’s birth certificate is a fraud.

At every rally, at every stump speech Trump restated the accusation. Again and again and again he iterated the charge, hammering, repeatedly, on about his “people” and “what they’re finding.

Oddly, nobody ever seemed to notice that he never identified who these “people” were, or revealed to the public what exactly they were “finding.

Roosevelt paid Trump scant attention. Though he knew repetition could bestow legitimacy on the baldest lie, he was, nevertheless, confident that no one would give credence to such an asinine fabrication.

This was a mistake. Roosevelt was unable to grasp, that anyone who had invested their self-esteem in Donald Trump’s success, weren’t about to be mislead by facts.

From an Elk’s Hall in Detroit, Trump lashed out at the few newspapers that questioned his allegation. An accusation required proof, they insisted, and an extraordinary accusation needed extraordinary proof. This was a standard principle of law, they noted.

Trump did not address the issue of proof, nor did he dare engage in a methodical process to demonstrate the validity of his premise. What he resorted to was the intellectual equivalent of the three-card monte scam.

You cannot just have a standard,” Trump clamored incredulously to the packed venue. “You cannot just say that we have a blanket standard all over the world … you can’t have a blanket standard. You may say … it sounds nice to say, ‘I have a blanket standard; here’s what it is’ … But you know … it won’t be a blanket standard.

He has proof, Trump assured his audience, and this proof is “tremendous.” “Phenomenal proof. “Really, tremendous, phenomenal” proof that Roosevelt’s “crooked” birth certificate was “totally not good and bad.

Now that the public had lost track of the “queen,” it was time for his misdirect: “Believe me, I have great respect for the news, and great respect for freedom of the press and all of that.” Then, offhandedly, he conceded, that “freedom of the press” was “…maybe overrated.

His proof was perfect, he stressed to his audience.

A lot of people tell me,” he assured them, that they’d never seen more perfect proof than his proof, that’s how perfect it is. “You never heard nobody”, he emphasized, say that the newspapers’ proof was “perfect.

Voices called out from the crowd affirming, no they never had.

Trump suddenly demanded that the newspapers should show him some proof showing that he didn’t have any proof.

Voices shouted from the crowd in agreement, yeah, that’s right: “Show us the proof, yeah!

Trump raised his hand and pointed a finger back towards the rear of the hall to an area designated for the press. All the eyes suddenly turned on those journalists clustered there. “They don’t respect us. They’re laughing at us!

A cataract of “boos” broke from the crowd.

I like the truth,” Trump lamented. “I’m actually a very honest guy…. They are evil people, the press, the media, they are bad people, and nobody, nobody lies like they do.

He shook his head in disgust, as all those in the hall joined in the booing.

They say things that are fabrication – you know….fabricated stories made up, these were fabrications. Out of nowhere…. Because they have no sources, they just make them up when there are none.

The booing grew.

He branded it, “Fake news!

Fake news,” and the booing grew until it was deafening.

Over the following week reporters demanded to know what evidence Trump had to verify that journalists fabricated stories. Trump responded flatly, “The news is fake, because so much of the news is fake.

Now as he campaigned, Trump started his every speech by calling for FDR to release his birth certificate for the country to see. When reporters sought to know the sources, that Trump maintained corroborated his claims about the president’s citizenship, they were ignored.

On the night he spoke at the Los Angeles Shiner’s Auditorium packed to capacity by his supporters Trump bellowed,

Our current president came out of nowhere. Came out of nowhere. In fact, I’ll go a step further: The people that went to school with him, they never saw him, they don’t know who he is. It’s crazy.

After his Los Angeles appearance, a number of newspapers and popular magazines like The Saturday Evening Post, Scribner’s Monthly and Collier’s featured articles with interviews and testimonies of classmates and instructors who vividly remembered “Franklin” at Harvard.

Life Magazine printed a two-page enlargement of a photo from his time at Harvard, showing the youthful Roosevelt among the 20 students who “staffed” the school paper, The Crimson, when he was its editor.

Trump was interviewed by George Denny on his radio show America’s Town Hall Meeting of the Air, on which Denny confronted him about the accusation’s over FDR’s citizenship, and quoted from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, St Louis Star and New York Times on the absence of any corroborating evidence.

As was Trump’s style, he avoided the question by attacking.

We will rise above the lies,” he insisted with firmness to Denny, “the smears the ludicrous slanders from ludicrous and very, very dishonest reporters…. I don’t mind being criticized. I’ll never, ever complain. I like it when people talk about me. As long as it is positive.

Then Trump merely repeated his accusation,

The fact is, if you’re not born in the United States, you cannot be president. He is having a hard time — trying to get away from this issue…a lot of facts are emerging.”

No one —ever— was shown the “lot of facts” Trump maintained he possessed.

In desperation, the Democratic Party bosses pressured FDR into releasing his birth certificate, and nearly every major American news and entertainment daily featured the document above the fold on the front page of their morning editions. This, many hoped, would put an end to the matter.

The next day, campaigning in St. Louis, Trump didn’t repeat his usual demand for Roosevelt to produce his birth certificate. Now he demanded FDR produce his “real birth certificate.

At the White House, FDR and Eleanor were listening on the Oval Office radio to Trump’s speech.

What the deuce,” a frustrated FDR groused, “does he mean my real birth certificate?

Eleanor slipped a side-long squint at her husband to silently convey by “real birth certificate,” Trump meant the one showing FDR’s birthplace as “Pucklechurch, South Gloucestershire, UK,”

As Trump stumped from city to city haranguing the ever-growing crowds, his lies became more and more egregious:

The murder rate in the United States is the worst, the highest it’s been in 45 years!

Untrue, it was the lowest it had been in years.

Our Gross National Domestic Product, a sign of strength, right? But not for us. It was below zero. Whoever heard of this?

Nobody! Because not only was it untrue, it was impossible.

Like an orange coiffured Humpty Dumpty, “facts” were what Trump said they were.

Trump invented facts and numbers without any basis of truth to them.

Speaking of the unemployment rate he said, “I’ve seen numbers of 24 percent — I actually saw a number of 42 percent unemployment. 42 percent. 5.3 percent unemployment — that is the biggest joke there is in this country. … The unemployment rate is probably 20 percent, but I will tell you, you have some great economists that will tell you it’s a 30, 32. And the highest I’ve heard so far is 42 percent.

Which was it some reporters wanted to know “42 percent?” “20 percent?” “30?

And where did Trump read these “numbers” and who were these “great
” he referenced?

One reporter was finally driven to cry out: “What does he mean when he says words?

During the months of the presidential campaign, Roosevelt offered the voters explanations for the depression.

Trump told his supporters what they wanted to hear, which was who to blame. He told the masses that now flocked to his rallies that the lawmakers in Washington couldn’t end the depression because they were morons.

They were “crooked, not good.” They were “disgusting, dishonest, sad…. We have losers. We have people that don’t have it. We have people that are morally corrupt. We have people that are selling this country down the drain.

FDR proposed solutions.

Trump would just bellow to his supporters, “I will be the greatest jobs president that God ever created.

FDR constantly spoke of the issues facing the nation.

Trump only spoke of the issues he’d invented:

Our enemies are getting stronger and stronger by the way, and we as a country are getting weaker.”
Our country is in serious trouble. We don’t have victories anymore. We used to have victories, but we don’t have them.

His favorite was the threat of refugees entering the country from Europe:

America has enough problems without allowing people to come in, who in many cases, or in some cases, are looking to do tremendous destruction…. Likewise, tremendous infectious disease is pouring across the border.”

When it was pointed out to him many were Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazis, Trump brushed it aside,

They’re not sending their best. They’re bringing those problems….they’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.

And for his invented threat, he invented a solution:

“I will build a great wall,” he proclaimed, “And nobody does walls better than me…. I will build the best wall, the biggest, the strongest, not penetrable, they won’t be crawling over it, like giving it a little jump and they’re over the wall.

Troy had a wall to keep Helen behind.
Davy Crockett had a wall to keep Santa Anna back.
Hadrian had a wall to keep the Scots out of Scotland.
The Great Wall hid China from the world.
The Maginot Line was a wall to keep Germans out of France.
Walls are simple solutions that appeal to the simple-minded.

We’re going to build a wall, folks. We’re going to build a wall. That wall will go up so fast, your head will spin.” The Atlantic sea wall he envisioned, to stop these Illegals, while running the length of America’s eastern coast, would be “Very inexpensive. Mark my words.

He confidently assured his listeners he would get Poland to pay for the wall.


But Trump succeeded in constructing one wall that worked very successfully.

He relentlessly brayed “Fake news.”

He denounced his critics as “crooked,” “lying,” “dishonest,” “unfair.

I have a running war with the media,” he announced at all of his rallies. “They are the most dishonest people human beings on earth.

He told them, “The press has become so dishonest that if we don’t talk about, we are doing a tremendous disservice to the American people. Tremendous disservice. We have to talk to find out what’s going on, because the press honestly is out of control. The level of dishonesty is out of control.

At one rally he had a proposal:

They shouldn’t be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody’s name. Let their name be put out there. Let their name be put out.

Besides fighting with the press, Trump, by persistently insisting how smart he was, also waged an unrelenting battle against the blatantly obvious.

Some thought he ranted so often about how “smart” he was because his supporters needed constant reminding. Others thought he did so to convince himself.

I’m very smart. My life has proven that I’m smart,” he modestly proclaimed. “I’m a thinker, and I have been a thinker. … I’m a very deep thinker.

Sorry losers and haters, but my IQ is one of the highest—and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure, it’s not your fault.” He admitted, “The day I realized it can be smart to be shallow was, for me, a deep experience.

He howled to supporters, “We need a president who isn’t the laughingstock of the whole world!

As the election neared, Trump gave a last interview to the Chicago Tribune. Its editor, Robert R. McCormick was implacably anti-New Deal and anti-Roosevelt. His papers backing of Trump was rabid, to say the least. Three months prior to polling day, the Tribune carried a headline that read, ”Only 97 days left to save your country!” He also ordered his switchboard operators to connect to all incoming calls with, “Chicago Tribune – Mr. Roosevelt is a Communist.”’

Trump’s interview was a rambling affair. It began with his assuring his base—

I’ve had a life of success and I’ve had a life of victory…. I know where I’ve been, and I know how to get the country to where people really want to see it.”

He proclaimed profoundly, “In life you have to rely on the past, and that’s called history.

He praised his supporters—

They say I have the most loyal people. Where I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters, ok? It’s like incredible….. Nobody has ever had crowds like Trump has had.

Finally he ended the interview with this promise—

America will never ever be the same.

Those words caused many who read them to shudder, fearing he would be right.
At all his political rallies Trump promised to roll-back all of FDR’s New Deal programs.

He promised on his first day in office to end the Great Depression and it would be easy because he was so smart.

I will give you everything,” he promised the mobs that gathered at his rallies. “I’m the only one.

And his supporters cheered, for they put in Trump all the faith they had lost in themselves.

As the election drew closer, few believed Trump would win the Presidency.
A majority of his supporters, with the “lost cause” part of their mindset, even expected his defeat.

But apparently one person in particular expected a loss and it was the candidate himself—

It’s not my fault I didn’t see the stop sign; they didn’t put it where I was looking.”
He only beat me because my jockstrap was too tight.
My check wouldn’t have bounced if he hadn’t put it in the bank so fast.”
I didn’t hit the pedestrian. They got in the way of my car.

There’s an old saying, “The girl who can’t dance says the band can’t play.

Small children and smaller men invent excuses to twist themselves away from the reasonability of failing.

Less than a month before the nation went to the polls Trump began twisting.

The election is absolutely being rigged by the dishonest and distorted media…but also at many polling places — Sad.”

When his own party dismissed his claim he screeched, “Of course there is large scale voter fraud happening on and before Election Day. Why do Republican leaders deny what is going on? So naive!

You know it, they know it, I know it, and pretty much the whole world knows it.…

This whole election is being rigged. These lies spread by the media, without witnesses, without backup or anything else.

Trump’s repeated excuses for why he wouldn’t” win.

Asked if his accusations meant he wouldn’t accept the election results, Trump answered, “I will totally accept the results of this great and historic presidential election—if I win.”

And so Election Day arrived….


If Trump Had Run for President In 1936
Chapter 3
Click HERE


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An award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note who has hoisted glasses with Orson Welles, been arrested on three continents and once beat up Charlie Manson. His first play, "Among the Vipers" was a semi-finalist in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition and was featured in the Carnegie-Mellon Showcase of New Plays. It was produced at the NPT Theater in Ashland, Oregon and Los Angeles’ celebrated Odyssey Ensemble Theatre. His following play, “The Little Boy Who Loved Monsters” was produced at The Hollywood Actors Theater, where he earned praise from the Los Angeles Times for his “…inordinately creative writing.” The play went on to numerous other productions including Berlin’s The Black Theatre under the direction of Rainer Fassbinder who wrote in his program notes of Kearney, “He is a skilled playwright, but more importantly he is a dangerous one.” Ernest Kearney has worked as literary manager or as dramaturge for among others The Hudson Theater Guild, Nova Diem and the Odyssey Ensemble Theatre, where he still serves on the play selection committee. He has been the recipient of two Dramalogue Awards and a finalist or semi-finalist, three times, in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. His work has been performed by Michael Dunn, Sandra Tsing Loh, Jack Colvin and Billy Bob Thornton, and to date, either as playwright or director, he has upwards of a hundred and thirty productions under his belt, including a few at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater as puppeteer. Kearney remains focused on his writing, as well as living happily ever after with his lovely wife Marlene. His stage reviews and social essays can be found at TheTVolution.com and workingauthor.com. Follow him on Facebook.

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