There was an uproar last week on social media from people receiving early tax refunds. All over Twitter, folks were sharing how they made the exact same amount of money as previous years, yet were getting far less of a refund or actually owing money this time around. Many of those sharing said they had voted for Donald Trump and expressed how badly they now regretted it.
It was absolutely glorious. These are people who didn’t care that Trump bragged about grabbing women, or that he’d been accused of sexual misconduct by 22 different women, or that he said terribly racist things about Latinos, Muslims and Black people, or that he was rolling back protections on LGBTQ people, or that he was constantly caught lying, or the many many many other reasons he’s a despicable disgrace of a human. No they didn’t care about any of that. It took not getting the tax refund they expected, for them to decide Trump was awful. Seeing them weeping and gnashing their teeth on the internet was sweet, delicious, beautiful schadenfreude, because, screw them, right?
Or at least it was for a few moments. Then I ruminated on the fact that these were people who’d been hoodwinked by one of the greatest con men of all time. Their fears and anxieties were exploited to further an agenda that made the rich even richer at the expense of nearly everyone and everything. I realized that while yes, it felt really good seeing them flail, more importantly this was a teachable moment from which we may actually be able to find unity against the millionaires and billionaires ruining the world for their own profit.
Hopefully this has been enough of a wakeup call for people to realized that the GOP does not act in the interest working people. Poor and middle class folks have seen their net worth and their earnings diminish or stagnate for so long that the idea of and extra $50 a month in their paycheck was worth giving away billions in tax breaks for those who already have too much money. It becomes an issue of perspective. Although we all talk about millions and billions of dollars like we know what they mean, most of us actually don’t.
If you make $1 million a year you’re making $83,333 a month! Considering the median household income is about $62k a year, someone making a million a year is making over $20k more each month than most Americans make in a year. Many people don’t realize how rich rich people really are. They don’t take the time to do the math and realize that the reason their wages are stagnant, and our schools are failing, and our healthcare system is so expensive is because the Right has been spent the past 40 years since Reagan’s election taking the power away from us and giving it to corporations, millionaires, and billionaires.
The Right has been waging a successful war against unions and organized labor since Reagan broke the air traffic controller strike. And even if you weren’t a member of organized labor yourself, strong unions meant higher wages for everyone because they set the standard for what was acceptable pay. The Right has spent just as much time giving tax breaks to people who make $83,333 a month or more, and when the people who make most of the wealth in a nation aren’t paying their fair share of taxes, the things the rest of us use start to fall apart – like our infrastructure and our school systems. And by pushing through legislation like Citizens United, the Right has made it incredibly easy for multibillion dollar corporations – like healthcare companies – to essentially write the laws that govern them. By allowing these businesses to funnel unlimited money into candidates who they know will do their bidding, these companies have been able to create laws that give themselves more power and repeal protections that limit the evil they can do.
The Right has gotten away with all this by slowly playing the long game over the past 40 years. They’ve been stocking the benches with judges sympathetic to their nefarious causes, while simultaneously convincing working people that their economic hardships were because of people who looked or loved differently. If you’re focused on “Mexicans taking your jobs” you won’t pay attention to the fact that the boss is the one giving those jobs away. If you let a politician rile you up about gay people getting married, you won’t pay attention to the fact that your healthcare premiums have gone up because that same politician is in the pocket of the insurance companies.
We have all been played and it’s been happening for far too long.
Right now the stooges on the Right are spinning the issue of the smaller tax refunds, saying that it’s not as bad as people think since they had less money withheld initially. Whether or not that’s true remains to be seen, but it doesn’t really matter. As we’ve witnessed with politics again and again, the actuality isn’t as powerful as the perceived and right now, finally, the GOP is being perceived as what they are: greedy bastards who tell lies that hurt the American people while they line their own pockets.
Hopefully this is the wakeup call that so many people who support Trump and the GOP need. Unfortunately, they probably won’t listen.
Stuart Schuffman, aka Broke-Ass Stuart, is a travel writer, TV host and poet. Follow him atBrokeAssStuart.com and join his mailing list to stay up on the work he’s doing:http://bit.ly/BrokeAssList. His guest column, Broke-Ass City, runs Thursdays in the Examiner.