• Ideas
  • politics

Donald Trump Is the Epitome of the Washington Elite He Claims to Hate

5 minute read

Americans are sick and tired of the backroom deals and backscratching that goes on in Washington. Our nation’s capitol has become a modern Versailles, where the governing class has completely lost touch with the governed. Washington has become one big playground for an elite governing class that only cares about enriching themselves, rather than serving the American taxpayer.

Donald Trump understands this sentiment, and he has sold himself to the Republican primary electorate as an outsider who will upend the “establishment.” But the truth is that Trump is more like King Louis XIV than George Washington.

Were Trump to show up in Washington next year as President of the United States, he would fit in perfectly with the Beltway culture—a culture that rewards hucksters, cynics and egomaniacs who long ago sold their souls for a shot at power. Trump, like many in Washington, isn’t motivated by any political ideology or noble conviction, but by money and influence.

Trump regularly trashes the political system he has spent his career cozying up to and taking advantage of. Trump hasn’t been shy about his eagerness to give money to politicians of all stripes in exchange for favors. Since the 1980s, Trump has given more than $1 million to officials on the national stage he thought could advance his business interests, with no regard for their political party or ideology. He built much of his impressive real estate empire by giving money to New York politicians in order to get favorable treatment.

Trump rails against lobbying, yet until last week, he had two lobbyists running his campaign, Paul Manafort and Corey Lewandowski (Lewandowski was fired last Monday). Throughout his career, Trump has regularly retained lobbying firms and lobbyists to help him. He even found himself in trouble in 2000 after he and his advisor, Washington insider Roger Stone, failed to register their lobbying activities and were fined $250,000.

Trump claims to be on the side of the little guy, but only if the little guy doesn’t stand in the way of Trump making money. Just ask Vera Coking. In the 1990s, Coking was a widow who had lived in her home since the 1960s. Trump wanted her property so that he could build a limousine parking lot. Trump worked with the city to try to force Coking out of her home. Coking was able to stay in her home, but only after a long legal battle.

Trump cares so much about the little guy that he also decided to make a university for them to attend. Many hardworking Americans enrolled, only to learn afterwards that it was never a licensed school. They were reportedly encouraged by the “university” to raise their credit card limit in order to pay for their education. The school also promised students they would learn from Trump and experts “handpicked” by Trump, but many students say their instructors knew very little about real estate.

Trump may have spent most of his life in New York City, but he is as disconnected from the concerns of average Americans as the Washington ruling class, even though he likes to claim he is one of them.

“It has not been easy for me,” Trump has said. “I started off in Brooklyn, my father gave me a small loan of a million dollars.”

His comments show just how out of touch he is. In reality, Trump’s father was one of the most successful and wealthiest men in the country when Trump was beginning his career. The idea that he’s just an “average Joe” is ludicrous. How many average Americans get a “small” million-dollar loan to begin their careers? And the reality is, Trump got far more than that, both in loan guarantees from his father and millions in un-cashed casino chips.

Trump has also helped use his money and power to further the careers of his loved ones. In 1982, Trump helped his sister, Maryanne Barry, get a federal appointment, according to a report. Trump had his attorney, the late Roy Cohn, lobby a White House aide in order to make sure his sister landed the job.

Does this sound like a man of the people and an outsider to the political establishment?

Trump isn’t an outsider who understands the struggles of the American people. He’s like other entitled politicians and bureaucrats. They don’t believe they work for the American people; they believe we work for them.

Trump doesn’t value his supporters; he believes they’re stupid enough to support him no matter what he does, even if that means committing murder.

“I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody,” he proclaimed in Iowa, “and I wouldn’t lose voters.”

If that’s not entitlement, what is? And if Trump believes he can betray his supporters without sacrificing their loyalty, how can Americans know for sure he’ll keep his promises?

All King Louis XIV was missing were some steaks, some vodka and a fake university.

Adapted from Barons of the Beltway: Inside the Princely World of Our Washington Elite — and How to Overthrow Them, copyright © 2016 by Michelle Fields. First hardcover edition published June 21, 2016, by Crown Forum. All rights reserved.

While Fields was a reporter for Breitbart this March, she accused Trump’s then campaign manager Corey Lewandowski of physically assaulting her during a rally. Lewandowski denied the accusation.

More Must-Reads From TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary on events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. Opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of TIME editors.