You’ve Been Trumped

You’ve Been Trumped is a 2011 scathing documentary about Donald Trump. It cannot be dismissed as motivated by the political self-interest of Democrats, liberals, or leftists as it was made many years before he became president or commenced his campaign for the presidency. Granted he had toyed with the notion of running for president off and on long before that, but he wasn’t a hard-core right wing Republican universally detested by anyone to the left of Goebbels until these last few years, as for most of his career he contributed to all political parties to further his self-interest, hobnobbed with celebrities of any political persuasion, etc.

So You’ve Been Trumped is not a hit piece by Democrats (or by Americans at all for that matter—the filmmaker is Anthony Baxter from Scotland), but it’s confirmation that Donald Trump was a thoroughly corrupt, greedy, inhumane, egotistical, dishonest, noxious, sociopathic asshole long before he assumed the presidency. (Not that that’s any great revelation to anyone who was paying the least bit of attention to him.)

In 2007, Trump purchased land in Scotland to build a luxury hotel and golf course. But there were certain impediments he needed to overcome in order for this project to come to fruition.

The land was a conservation area, with much natural oceanfront beauty and 4,000 year old sand dunes that would be massively disrupted by development of this kind. For this reason, environmentalists were up in arms and the local council initially turned him down for the building permit he sought. There were also properties nearby that to Trump constituted eyesores that would be displeasing to his guests, with owners who refused to sell to him. The owners were farmers and other working class people whose families had owned the properties for generations.

But when you have zero moral scruples, and plenty of cash to toss around in the right places (as investments that you know will come back to you in droves), obstacles like these aren’t likely to stop you.

Trump made blatantly false statements like “We’ve had tremendous support from the environmentalists” so at least the issue would be muddier and seem like a two-sided controversy among environmentalists, and more importantly made whatever dishonest or exaggerated claims he needed to about the quantity and quality of jobs his project would create, and managed to get the Scottish Parliament to overrule the local council.

He launched a public relations offensive against the local residents who refused to sell to him, lashing out especially venomously against farmer Michael Forbes, “The man lives in a pig sty. He lives in garbage. He’s a pig.” (We’re introduced to Forbes and his property at length in the film. It’s a working farm, no more trashy and rundown than you would expect a rural property like this to be. There are tools and machinery strewn around, domestic animals wandering about, etc., if you consider that “garbage.”)

He had his construction people pile up enough sand to block the residents’ view, and “accidentally” cut their electricity and water. The residents’ complaints fell on deaf ears, as by then the local officials, including law enforcement, were inclined to keep out of any such disputes if not to side with the vastly more powerful Trump for their own good. The filmmaker himself was harassed whenever he tried to film the construction, and indeed was even jailed for a short time on no plausible grounds.

When there’s that great a discrepancy in money and power, someone like Trump can get away with breaking the rules (and that’s in addition to the fact that the rules themselves tend to already favor the privileged). In theory, when he pulls shit like this he can get sued, and if the case is decided on the merits he’ll presumably lose, but he has the resources to use every trick in the book, fair and foul, and to drag any dispute out for years. A normal person with something other than massive resources can’t match that. Even if in principle they could win in the long run, they’ll run out of patience and money long before that long run gets here.

If I got mad at my neighbor and maliciously cut the wires leading to his house in order to deprive him of electricity, I would be at very high risk of suffering for it both civilly and criminally. Trump, and people like him, can do the very same thing and suffer no consequences at all.

The film presents Trump as an unambiguous villain and the local Scottish residents as fully sympathetic underdogs. That’s not objectionably propagandistic if that’s what they in fact are. My guess is that in this case it’s about 95% truth and 5% spin and bullshit oversimplification.

I can’t say I was thoroughly engrossed in You’ve Been Trumped. It’s a competent documentary. It’s on the right side of its issues. It made me feel some empathy for these local Scots. But it didn’t stand out to me as unusually well done, and, like I say, it doesn’t really tell us anything we didn’t already know about what an odious con man Trump is. There’s stronger evidence of that on a daily basis on the news.

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