Why did Donald Trump, a real estate mogul and reality TV star with no political experience, decide to run for president?
We have no shortage of theories. Some say Trump wanted free publicity to boost his sagging personal brand. Others assert it was all a stunt to launch a new cable TV channel. Still others insist Trump jumped in to shake things up and have a little fun, never expecting to actually win the Republican nomination.
Now Trump’s son Eric has put forth a new theory: His father was upset because the White House Christmas tree was renamed a “holiday tree.”
Buzzfeed’s Andrew Kaczynski reported last week that Eric Trump told TV preacher James Robison recently that his father decided to get into the race because he doesn’t like where America’s culture is headed.
“He opens up the paper…and some new school district has just eliminated the ability for its students to say the Pledge of Allegiance or some fire department in some town is ordered by the mayor to no longer fly the American flag on the back of a fire truck,” EricTrump said. “Or he sees the tree on the White House lawn has been renamed ‘holiday tree’ instead of ‘Christmas tree.’ I could go on and on for hours. Those are the very things that made my father run, and those are the very things he cares about.”
Now, Donald Trump has been courting the Religious Righty quite aggressively lately – he needs them because members of other religious groups aren’t with him – and this might just be another manifestation of that. Eric Trump might have been just telling Robison’s audience what it wants to hear.
But let’s assume for a moment that there’s some truth to Eric Trump’s claim. If so, it’s disturbing because it means Donald Trump decided to run for the highest office in the land on the basis of crazy stories that aren’t true.
Is this the Christmas tree that led Donald Trump to run for president? Possibly.
That’s right. They are not true. The National Christmas Tree was never renamed the “Holiday Tree.” Here’s information about the 2015 Christmas celebrations from the White House’s website. Note the headline: “President Obama Delivers Remarks at the Lighting of National Christmas Tree.”
Kooky right-wing emails began circulating during Obama’s presidency claiming that he had changed the name of the Christmas tree, but there’s no truth to the story. It was just another right-wing attack on the president.
Eric Trump’s claim about public schools banning the Pledge of Allegiance is also a crock. The U.S. Supreme Court did rule that public school students can’t be forced to recite the Pledge and salute the flag if they have a conscience-based objection to it. This is nothing new. That decision was handed down in 1943. Public schools can still sponsor daily recitation of the Pledge, and most do – but they can’t compel participation. (Remarkably, some public school officials have yet to get that message.)
There are many reasons a person decides to run for president. He or she may not like the direction the economy is headed in or may believe that our foreign policy is a mess. A candidate may simply feel he/she has a vision for the country.
But if what Eric Trump says is true, we may be seeing a first in American politics: a candidate who was motivated to seek what many believe to be the most important job in the world on the basis of crank emails circulated by woefully misinformed followers of the Religious Right.