August 27, 2020 – As Donald Trump prepares to accept the Republican nomination, his previous acceptance address, four years ago in Cleveland, is emblematic of his presidency. The lofty promises and proclamations have amounted to nothing more than empty bluster. 

Rather than fight corruption, pursue peace, and deliver prosperity, as he pledged, Trump’s self-serving administration has left America isolated, repeatedly brought us to the brink of conflict, and now collapsed in the face of a global health crisis — all while the President exploits his office for personal gain.

A review of Trump’s hollow Cleveland commitments leaves one thing clear: another four years of Trump would be disastrous for America’s security, standing, and prosperity.

America’s Global Reputation

Trump’s Cleveland Pledge: “As long as we are led by politicians who will not put America first, then we can be assured that other nations will not treat America with the respect that we deserve. The American people will come first once again.”

Reality: At every turn, Trump has placed his political and business interests above the national interest, transforming America into a global pariah and a literal laughing stock.

  • During this pandemic, Trump has rejected the science of mask-wearing for his own vanity, downplayed the threat of the virus for the sake of securing a trade deal, and forced over a thousand West Point cadets to travel back to campus amidst a pandemic so he could deliver a televised, in-person speech.
  • Despite promising to “restore” America’s respect abroad, Trump has overseen the greatest drop in perceived trustworthiness relative to any other government in the world.
  • Meanwhile, polling at home indicates that 56% of voters believe Trump has made us less respected in the world, including nearly two-thirds of independents. 

America Alone

Trump’s Cleveland Pledge: “I have joined the political arena so that the powerful can no longer beat up on people…Nobody knows the system better than me, which is why I alone can fix it.”

Reality: Trump’s go-it-alone approach has left a trail of destruction and created profound dangers for the American people. From smashing our long-standing system of alliances to pulling out of common-sense international accords on climate and nuclear non-proliferation, among others, Trump has sown the very chaos in the world he purported to be singularly able to solve. 

  • Trump’s history of failed unilateral negotiations — including his fruitless summits and fawning relationship with Kim Jong Un and his equal parts feckless and dangerous “maximum pressure” approach to Iran — underscores the risks of attacking our allies and rejecting diplomacy. 

Moral Leadership

Trump’s Cleveland Pledge: “Together, we will lead our country back to safety, prosperity, and peace. We will be a country of generosity and warmth.”

Reality: Trump has turned his back on American values, cruelly waging a foreign policy that harms the most vulnerable among us — at our borders and around the world.

  • Defying decades of bipartisan consensus on the merits of foreign aid and international asylum, Trump has slashed America’s refugee intake quota from 110,000 to 18,000.
  • Trump has also proposed cutting funding for U.S. foreign aid by over 22%, denied emergency funding to Venezuela and Syria, ended U.S. funding for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, and slashed $1 billion dollars of aid to Afghanistan.
  • Moreover, the UN’s human rights chief has characterized federal migration centers under Trump’s cruel family separation and child internment policy “appalling” and “likely a violation of international law.”
  • Despite promising economic prosperity and security, Trump has overseen a uniquely incompetent Coronavirus response, prolonging a twin economic crisis that has already generated a historically-devastating spike in unemployment. 


Trump’s Cleveland Pledge: “When that same Secretary of State rakes in millions of dollars trading access and favors to special interests and foreign powers I know the time for action has come (…)  I know that corruption has reached a level like never ever before in our country.”

Reality: Trump and his ilk have enriched themselves at every turn, amounting to historic levels of corruption throughout the administration.

  • Since 2016, seven of Trump’s associates have been convicted and sentenced as a result of the Mueller investigation into Russia’s interference in our elections.
  • Trump himself was impeached by the United States House of Representatives for abuse of power after attempting to block Congressionally-mandated aid to Ukraine in search of dirt on his political opponent. In addition, Trump has openly and repeatedly called for foreign interference in our elections, including most recently when he begged Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party to help get him re-elected.
  • According to the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Trump has overseen an unprecedented number of conflicts of interest, as unqualified Mar-a-Lago cronies have dictated Veterans Affairs policy and Saudi-funded lobbyists have suspiciously filled vacancies at Trump hotels. 

Forever Wars

Trump’s Cleveland Pledge: “We must abandon the failed policy of nation building and regime change that Hillary Clinton pushed in Iraq, Libya, Egypt and Syria.”

Reality: Trump has surrounded himself with dangerous warmongers, and his administration has pursued a reckless policy of ‘maximum pressure’ from Venezuela to Iran.

  • Led by hardliners and proponents of regime change, the Trump administration’s disastrous Iran policy has drawn us catastrophically close to war, unnecessarily placed U.S. soldiers in the line of fire, and spawned the rapid redevelopment of Iran’s nuclear program with the dismantling of the JCPOA — all while further emboldening Iran and its proxies.
  • Regarding Venezuela, Trump stated that “all options are on the table” when asked if the U.S. military would be deployed to oust Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. In the midst of a global pandemic, the administration continues to deploy unilateral sanctions and advances a strategy that amounts to regime change, all while ignoring the plight of the Venezuelan people.  


Trump’s Cleveland Pledge: “To protect us from terrorism…. we must have the absolutely best gathering of intelligence anywhere in the world.” 

Reality: Rather than support America’s national security professionals, Trump has undermined our public servants, harmed key intelligence partnerships, and leveraged key institutions for his own benefit.

  • On his first full day in office, Trump bragged about his inauguration crowd size and attacked the media in front of a memorial for slain CIA officers at the agency’s headquarters.
  • In front of the world at Helsinki, Trump sided with Vladimir Putin over American intelligence agencies on the question of Russia’s election interference.Trump’s numerous intelligence leaks — including a disclosure of highly-classified information to Russia’s Foreign Minister, a thoughtless tweet of apparently classified surveillance imagery, and a discussion of sensitive information with autocrat Rodrigo Duterte — have jeopardized our relationships with crucial intelligence partners.
  • Earlier this year, Trump appointed a crony and political loyalist, Richard Grenell, as Acting Director of National Intelligence, only to fill the role permanently with John Ratcliffe — another partisan figure who exaggerated his national security experience.

The United States is stronger, safer, and more respected in the world when we use our power wisely, stand strong with allies and partners, pursue principled diplomacy, and remain true to the values that have long defined us at home and abroad.