Amidst all the pieces of news swirling around us, the fact that Mr. Trump has already trademarked his slogan for the 2020 election (Keep America Great! and Keep America Great – p.s. the ! is the difference between the two phrases) (http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/02/donald-trumps-2020-re-election-bid-making-him-richer) seems quaint, predictable, an almost minor issue. Yet when one pauses and truly takes in what this means it all seems far more absurd and quite possibly Machiavellian.
Mr. Trump’s expressed reason for announcing his slogan is his sheer awesomeness: “I never thought I’d be giving [you] my expression for four years [from now]…. But I am so confident that we are going to be, it is going to be so amazing. It’s the only reason I give it to you. If I was, like, ambiguous about it, if I wasn’t sure about what is going to happen — the country is going to be great” (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2017/01/18/donald-trumps-new-2020-campaign-slogan-is-very-well-donald-trump/?utm_term=.8d9ed5d6e8f4).
The absurd part is that the president’s job is to govern, to focus all of his energy, attention and stamina on running the country, crafting sound policies, preventing disasters and adeptly responding to the unforeseen. The job of the president is not campaigning, yet by filing, his intent to run in 2020, with the Federal Election Commission Mr. Trump is transforming his presidency into a campaign. Mr. Trump believes this is appropriate, for according to him, “life is a campaign. Making our country great again is a campaign” (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/18/turbulent-first-weeks-white-house-donald-trump-launches-2020/); oh how wrong he is….
Some note that the rally this past Saturday was his first campaign stop, a mere 29 days into his presidency (https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/02/trump-kicks-off-his-2020-reelection-campaign-on-saturday/516909/) and there are rumors that Mr. Trump has retained a skeletal campaign staff, working in Trump Towers (http://www.politico.com/story/2017/01/donald-trump-campaign-reelection-233440).
The more Machiavellian perspective arises out of two facts. The first is rooted in the fact that by filing his paperwork for the 2020 election, Mr. Trump has created an avenue by which to enrich himself and accept financial contributions. Due to his filing, Mr. Trump’s campaign can start accepting donations and according to Jonatan Zunger, “Given that a sizable fraction of the campaign funds from the previous cycle were paid directly to the Trump Organisation in exchange for building leases, etc., at inflated rates, you can assume that those campaign coffers are a mechanism by which US nationals can easily give cash bribes directly to Trump” (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-2020-second-term-president-federal-elections-commission-filing-a7558236.html). Leaving the issue of bribing aside Mr. Trump has shown, for example via his cabinet picks, that those who support him contribute to his campaign, or to the Republican cause are remembered and rewarded. The existence of a campaign has also been noted to be a conduit by which Mr. Trump can rather easily increase his wealth (http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/02/donald-trumps-2020-re-election-bid-making-him-richer).
The second fact, which makes one pause about Mr. Trump filing with the FEC at such an early date, has to do with campaign laws: “Having filed (even if not formally announcing a bid) as a candidate, Trump would be able to coordinate with PACs and other similar organizations. More importantly, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations would no longer be able to engage in “political speech” which could theoretically affect the results of the 2020 U.S. Presidential Election without running the risk of losing their nonprofit status. The move effectively bars interest groups from creating nonprofits which they could funnel money into for the purposes of opposing Trump’s initiatives. This will likely create chaos for political opponents of Trump….” (http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-01-30/trump-files-early-fec-2020-candidacy-outmaneuvers-nonprofits). One way to control a message is to ensure that the opposition has few avenues by which to speak.
So… with the 2020 election feeling a bit closer to home it seems wise to start thinking outside of the box. The Presidential Tax Transparency and Accountability Act (CA SB 149) does just this – it, “would require a candidate for President, in order to have his or her name placed upon a general election ballot, to file his or her income tax returns for the 5 most recent taxable years with the Secretary of State at least 70 days before that election” (http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180SB149). For those of you with strategic minds know that the bill has the same provision for write-in candidates. If this bill passes, it could catch on in other states making the threshold that much higher for Mr. Trump in 2020. Either he decides not to release his tax return and thus could not run in CA or any other state with this law or he would release his tax returns and thus could be assessed in an honest financial light, which I believe would do a lot to further the cause of his opponent.
As luck would have it, this bill is currently in the Senate Judiciary Committee on which our state Senator Joel Anderson sits – so let’s get in touch with Senator Anderson and urge him to support this bill OR if he does not support this bill, then let us request he provide his rationale for opposing this truly common sense piece of legislation.
CA Senator Mike McGuire, author of this bill, has started a petition – so if you would like another chance to express your voice, then follow the link and sign the petition: http://www.senatormikemcguire.com/sign-our-petition-and-tell-president-trump-to-release-his-tax-returns/