Disneyland’s Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride is a dark ride, one of the few originals still in operation today. I so titled this post because I believe the ride Mr. Donald Trump is taking voters for this year is dark, wild and dangerous. I have believed this ever since I realized that some people were actually taking his candidacy seriously, and I believe it today even more than ever.
Where to begin? Let us begin with the tax returns. Though there is no law requiring candidates for the presidency to release their federal tax returns, it has been commonly accepted practice throughout modern history. Trump announced last Tuesday that he would not release his returns until after the November election. He cites an ongoing audit, but his accountant and the IRS have indicated that there is no reason that he cannot release his returns. Mitt Romney in 2012 had released one year’s return, but Trump led the parade demanding that he release more, which he ultimately did. At the very least, what a hypocrite. At worst, he has something to hide that might sway some voters. When asked what his tax rate is, his reply? “None of your business”. He makes no secret that he tries to pay as little in federal income tax as possible, which is perfectly normal … I think we all do that … but whether he does it within the confines of the law or not is the question in my mind. Additionally, if Trump were to win the election and become president, he could conceivably leverage an IRS audit for his personal gain. Either way, I think it is important that his tax returns be made public before the election in November. If he truly has nothing to hide, then it should be no problem.
There is currently a class-action lawsuit against Donald Trump and his now-defunct Trump University. Under normal circumstances, the trial would be held prior to the November election, and in fact was initially on the docket for this summer, but Trump’s attorney in the case, Daniel Petrocelli, requested the trial be delayed until after the inauguration in January. Well, he didn’t quite get his wish, however the trial has been postponed until November 28, well after the election. There are a couple of problems with this. First, the suit was initially filed in 2010, so any further delay seems ridiculous. Second, what happens if Trump wins the election and then is found guilty of wrongdoing at trial? At the least, very awkward, at worst, perhaps it disqualifies him from the presidency, especially if willful fraud can be proven. Think what the reaction would have been if the Benghazi investigation or the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s e-mail server issue had been delayed until after the election. The nation would be up in arms! I think the Trump University trial needs to move forward, and it seems that Trump would want that also, to be relieved of any baggage before election day. Unless, that is, there is something he is not telling us.
Donald Trump is no economist. Yes, as a businessman it is presumed that he understands some basics about investments, cash flow, balance sheets and income statements, but he is no economist. So it is understandable that his statements on the U.S. debt were, and I am being generous here, somewhat confused. First, he claimed the U.S. would simply buy back our foreign debt and then default on it. Then, when questioned about that, he claimed that was not what he meant, that he meant if interest rates went up we could buy back our debt at a discount. Neither of which make any sense from the perspective of an economist, but then he threw in the real kicker. He said there would never be a reason for the U.S. to default on its loans because “This is the United States government. First of all, you never have to default because you print the money [emphasis added].” I do not claim to be an economist … I leave that to fellow blogger Erik Hare of Barataria fame … but even I know that there is a real problem with simply printing more money … it devalues our currency which leads to even bigger problems. Trump’s financial advisors would be well-advised to make him a set of index cards to read from when answering questions about the economy.
Now, I am told that Trump’s appeal to some segment of voters is the he is ‘keeping it real’. I do not understand what is meant by this. What do you mean, he is ‘keeping it real’? Keeping what real? ‘Real’ in what way? Is this some neo-generational buzz-phrase? Or by real, do you mean ‘honest’? Because if you mean honest, there are so many examples of his absolute dishonesty, documented examples, that I would be genuinely stunned to hear somebody say he is ‘keeping it honest’. In fairness, many of his ‘un-truths’ are due more to ignorance than calculated lying, but ignorance is not a trait I look for in a president. At least not in such massive quantities and coupled with blatant lies. Check all his ‘4 Pinocchio’ lies here.
And while we are on the topic of buzz-phrases, would somebody care to enlighten me about the meaning of the motto he keeps screaming (does the man know how to simply speak in a normal tone of voice?) ‘Make America Great Again’? Definition of ‘great’: considerably above normal or average. So, let us see … in what areas does the U.S. fail the test of greatness? Well, there’s education, but wait … does not Donald Trump wish to eliminate the Department of Education? And replace it with …. ??? We fail the greatness test in religious tolerance, but Trump is threatening to ban and expel all Muslims from the country, so I am unclear how that will make us ‘great’. And what does he mean ‘again’? I am pretty patriotic and love my country, but when I look back, I don’t see that we were any closer to great 50 years ago than we are now. We had race riots, segregation, disenfranchisement of blacks. We had McCarthyism and the Cold War. We had Vietnam and Richard Nixon. In many ways, America has always been great, in others it lacks. That is how it has always been and likely always will be, no matter who wins the presidency in 2016. And if you believe, or want to believe, that Trump has the ability to ‘make America great’, whatever that means, ask yourself this: How will he do that?
There will be those who will vote for Trump if he is the republican nominee, which seems likely at this point. That is fine, and I am not calling his supporters names, saying they are stupid, or anything else. What I am attempting to do is make everybody, those who support Trump and those who do not, listen to what he is saying and ask yourself what he actually means. And ask yourself if what he actually means is in keeping with what you really want the next president to be. Think about his values, or lack thereof, and ask if they are in keeping with your own.