At a White House ceremony last year, President Trump honored Cuban-Americans who bravely fought at the Bay of Pigs in April 1961.
Recruited and trained by the CIA during both Eisenhower and Kennedy Administrations to oust Fidel Castro and his newly entrenched communist regime, many of the 1,400 exiles felt betrayed as zero U.S. air support led to slaughter by 20,000 soldiers beyond the landing beaches. Three days later, 114 had been killed and nearly 1,200 captured then imprisoned for nearly two years.
Ironically, while Trump boasted of winning the “Bay of Pigs Award” in 2016, an honor which doesn’t even exist – his “Bay of Pigs Presidency” did.
While President Kennedy at least had a plausible reason for withholding support in Cuba – cautiously avoiding a military confrontation with the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War, President Trump had none for failing to back his own supporters in America. That is until this month when a violent mob stormed Capitol Hill in his name resulting in five deaths.
Apart from that, throughout Trump’s time in office, associates whose only crime was supporting the president were ruthlessly attacked by the so-called anti-Trump #Resistance, a cartel of the most powerful forces in American society — Democrats, Never Trump Republicans, the federal bureaucracy, the media, Big Tech, dark money activist groups and woke mobs. Though less bloody than the Bay of Pigs, government-funded limitless investigations, overzealous prosecutions, rampant media defamation, classified leaks and stalkers can ruin lives too.
Trump mostly gave up his supporters without a fight, and sometimes even piled on himself.
While many are surprised by his betrayal of Vice President Pence earlier this month over the refusal to bend to Trump’s will over certifying the election results on Jan. 6, as per the Constitution, they shouldn’t be.
Trump’s fall was largely caused by his stunning disloyalty to loyalists since Day 1.
Though elected as an America First leader based on his stated campaign policies, once in office, he mostly hired cabinet members who continually undermined him and fought hard to keep his supporters out of their departments and agencies. Trump, along with his shadow presidents, son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter Ivanka who were registered Democrats up until 2018, hired their own “deep state” which predictably led to his first impeachment for an alleged quid-pro-quo with Ukraine.
For those Americans who risked their careers and reputations to support Team Trump prior to the 2016 election and contributed to the upset victory, once the #Resistance sank their teeth in for any reason no matter how absurd or dishonest, Trump and surrogates on television almost always abandoned them to the wolves anyway.
For instance, the Russiagate collusion hoax — a manufactured scandal designed to end a presidency and destroy the America First movement. Over 50 Trump associates were dragged into the crosshairs of the FBI, special counsel, congressional Democrats and the media.
Yet instead of fact finding to debunk the bogus allegations and defending his team, Trump just kept shouting “fake news!” which was utterly useless, even if usually true. When pressed even slightly, he threw his supporters under the bus in a misguided attempt to save himself, sacrificing others to appease an angry mob which could never be appeased. Six of his associates were indicted in Russiagate for things entirely unrelated to collusion or conspiracy with Russians, the stated rationale for years of investigations. Sure, he eventually pardoned four of them — after their lives had already been wrecked.
On the policy front, Trump also folded easily.
The wall with Mexico still isn’t built — only about 450 miles along a nearly 2,000-mile border, mostly to replace existing barriers. The trade war with China hasn’t changed the numbers much. His post-campaign opportunist advisers even “misled” him about troop numbers in Syria. He consistently caved to the Democrats on runaway government spending — our national debt now stands at $27 trillion, up from $19 trillion under President Obama. Finally, he overpromised and under-delivered on declassifying Russiagate files, allowing those who sabotaged him, his team and our democracy to largely escape public accountability.
Trump did of course score some notable pro-America wins: a crackdown on both Iran and the Islamic State that blunted terrorism; an energy independence boost; a 6-3 conservative Supreme Court; a roaring stock market; and a revitalized economy prior to the coronavirus pandemic.
But how much more effective would he have been with an America First administration all along instead of senior level loyalists scattered here and there, mostly in the very beginning and tail end of his presidency? And how many supporters and their families would have been better shielded from the #Resistance reign of terror if he would have fought for them?
So as we move past the Trump-era, it’s important to ensure successors keep these lessons learned in mind. Above all, politics is a team sport and loyalty works both ways.
J.D. Gordon is a former Senior National Security & Foreign Policy Advisor to Republicans Donald Trump, Mike Huckabee and Herman Cain. Previously, he served as a Pentagon spokesman during the George W. Bush Administration and is a retired Navy Commander.