I feel it essential to begin, as usual, with an asseveration that I despise Donald Trump and all that he stands for, that he appeals to the worst instincts in Americans, and that I will certainly vote for his opponent. But I also dislike the deification of Hillary Clinton—adulation that has gone so far that one is not allowed to criticize her lest, her adulators say, such criticism could help elect Trump. One friend of mine even wrote that she had a “storied career”! I respectfully disagree.
Does it become allowable to criticize a candidate we favor only after she’s elected? I don’t buy it. The same people who want to stifle criticism of Hillary Clinton also have said that it’s imperative that we criticize atheist “leaders” like Harris and Dawkins, for rationality demands that we hold those leaders as accountable as anyone else. If Clinton is elected (and I’ve put substantial money on the fact that she will be), we’ll just continue to hear the STFU trope about her, for she’ll in all probability be facing a Republican Congress. We can’t criticize her as it will just give fuel to those Republicans.
In fact, the Presidential campaign has become nasty on both sides (nastier on Trump’s), and this contributes to what I see as an irreversible polarization of American politics. Trump has no choice but to engage in negative politics, as he has no positive policies except for his execrable “wall” and the denigration of women, but it pains me to see Hillary Clinton engaging in those kind of politics. After all, she does have policies, and that is one thing that helped her during the last debate. But mud-slinging is the theme of the season, and it’s ugly.
Now we’ve heard that Donald Trump won’t release his tax returns, and that in fact he may have paid no taxes. In his response during the debate, he said that paying no taxes made him “smart”.
The response, both from the public and the media, has been outrage. How could a multimillionaire pay no taxes, while the poor working stiff pays a big dollop of money to the government?
This criticism is misguided, and the outrage is faux outrage because it’s directed at the wrong target. So odious has Trump become that he now is the whipping boy for nearly everything, including the poor condition of America’s airports.
Everyone tries to minimize their tax burden, including me, using the legal provisions in the tax code. Seriously, how many of you refuse, for instance, to take your legal mortgage-interest or dependent deductions because you want to pay more than you have to to the government? If you do take legal deductions, you have no business criticizing Trump on this account. His taxes may reveal other malfeasance, and perhaps we’ll know eventually.
The fault lies not in Trump, but in a tax code that allows rich individuals and corporations to get away with paying almost nothing. And that is wrong, for of course all citizens have a duty to share in the burden of running the government, and of funding schools, roads, and other infrastructure.
But if you are outraged at Trump’s zero tax bill, then save your rancor for the government and its tax laws, not at him.
As for him not releasing his tax returns, I think that’s a mistake. Though it’s not mandated, it’s customary, and I suspect that he has something to hide beyond not paying any taxes. My suspicion is that his donations to charity are pitiful compared to what he should be giving, especially for someone who pays no taxes.