America is not a charity that exists to make Donald Trump rich
Tuesday night at the Center for Popular Democracy, Elizabeth Warren gave the longform version of the argument she’ll be making against Donald Trump.
If it were a mixtape of her best rhymes, here’s the standout verse:
For all we know he could be paying zero taxes today. And he is proud of it. Two weeks ago he was more than happy to dodge taxes because he doesn’t want to throw his money, quote, ‘down the drain.’
Donald Trump likes being a billionaire but he doesn’t think that the rules that apply to everyone else, should apply to him. But let’s be clear Donald Trump didn’t get rich on his own.
His businesses rely on roads and bridges paid for by the rest of us. His businesses rely on workers that are educated by the rest of us. They rely on police and firefighters who protect the rest of us and are supported by the rest of us. Donald Trump and his businesses are protected by a world-class military that defends us abroad and keeps us safe at home and the rest of us pay to support.
Warren debuted this attack in 2012, and it now has an edge that matches the appalling greed Donald Trump wears like a bad weave. Democrats tend to abandon their successful frames but Warren is keen the logic that we need to change brains by repeating and nurturing ideas that appeal to core progressive morality.
I’ve cued it up to the best part above to get a sense of how she ties Trump’s refusal to release his taxes — and his general disdain for taxes — to a larger argument, which Greg Sargent explains like this:
Trump plays by his own set of rules, engorging himself, while simultaneously heaping explicit scorn on social investments designed to help those who are struggling in the same economy that made him rich. Warren notes that Trump recently likened paying his taxes to “throwing money down the drain” — i.e., he is reneging on the social contract — after “inheriting a fortune from his father” and “keeping it going by scamming people.” Thus, Warren is making a broader argument about Trump’s fundamental cruelty.
This salvo into Trump’s moral failings and his eagerness to screw you and dump you appears to be coordinated with the Clinton campaign, who has settled on a similar a narrative, according to Philip Rucker:
He is a business fraud who has cheated working people for his own gain, and his ideas, temperament and moves to marginalize people by race, gender and creed make him simply unacceptable as commander in chief.
I distill it down to “Trump thinks you’re a sucker.”
Regardless, it’s a relief to see Democrats taking Trump seriously early and hitting him hard for the way he lusted after a financial crisis and being quick on their feet to organize “protests” when it becomes clear that there’s a story that fits this narrative, like Trump stiffing veterans.
“Mrs. Clinton enjoys structural advantages in demography, party registration and the Electoral College,” William Galston wrote. And President Obama’s more buoyant popularity only helps that.
But the risks are clear and undeniable.
Believe the polls. This race is tight — at least as tight as 2012, despite the GOP being on the verge of nominating an untested, unstable, unbelievably faulty candidate who thinks his bigotry can be paved over by declaring he enjoys taco salads. Despite all this, his popularity and appeal to Americans who have been weened on dog-whistle corporatism for decades cannot be underestimated.
We have no idea if left-leaning Democrats and independents will coalesce and there’s a third-party candidate that could cut into either party’s appeal.
Trump’s cruelty — manifested in his intolerance, avarice and chauvinism — became his greatest strength in a GOP primary. And now Democrats have to expose how they would only make our economy, our families and our nation weaker.