“In conclusion, there is no conclusion. Things will go on as they always have, getting weirder all the time.”
— Robert Anton Wilson
Dear Friend and Reader:
Here’s what I’ve been wondering all week: how can a presidential candidate tell the nation that he doesn’t pay federal taxes and nobody seems to care? There were many impressive moments in Monday’s debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, but that took first prize.
The issue involved why Trump has not disclosed his income taxes, which is a basic though unofficial requirement of all presidential candidates in our era. Clinton said that in the few tax returns that had been disclosed over the decades (mainly in gambling license applications), Trump had paid no federal taxes, to which he responded by saying that means he’s a smart guy. He had many options; that was the answer he chose.
Donald Trump spreading his wings to fly.
In any other time of history, there would have been mass outrage. Imagine if Ronald Reagan or George H. W. Bush had said such a thing. People would have stormed the stage. The logic is plain: I pay taxes; so should you, big man.
Today it just seems like one more fleeting detail in the chaos, or one more feel-good moment. It’s true: most of us are angry about taxes and how little we get for them.
Yet the president is the nation’s top law-enforcement official. His example, and his integrity, actually matter. Or rather they used to. Now, a leading presidential candidate is honored as a rebel. The obvious problem is that he’s not one. Rather, he’s spent his life working the system for all it’s worth, enriching himself. He’s worked the banks and the Clintons and the Russians and the media and all the rest of it. In truth, Donald Trump is the biggest conformist of all.
Trump’s support comes mostly from working Caucasian men (formerly called blue-collar), which is to say, the little guy: factory workers, truck drivers and laborers among them; that is, the guys Bruce Springsteen sings about. You know, Joe Hardhat. Trump claims to be a billionaire and meanwhile regular folk scratching out a living are paying for his party, working two days a week for the federal government while he pays nothing.
Does anyone really think that he’s going to look out for their best interests? I realize that Trump’s supporters think he’s going to shake the tree. What they don’t seem to understand is that he’s more likely to chop it down and burn it for firewood.