I’m not terribly political in this space, generally, but I’m also not afraid to wade into the murky swamp of politics on occasion. I used an aching back to question something that Mitt Romney once said about people being envious of him. I compared Romney to Draco Malfoy at one point as well. So there’s some precedent for what I’m going to say in the next few paragraphs.
The idea that Mitt Romney can run for president, and still keep his tax returns a secret, is preposterous on its face. I didn’t set up the rules of this game, where it’s a customary thing for aspiring politicians to let the people know details about their personal financial life. But Mitt Romney had to know that people were going to expect to know about where his money comes from, and how much of it he gives back–or doesn’t give back– to the government.
If releasing his tax returns would cause Romney some personal embarrassment, the smart thing to do would have been taking a pass on running for president in the first place. But he chose to run anyway, apparently thinking that releasing tax returns is something that wouldn’t apply to him. A man with anywhere from $20 to 100 million in his own IRA probably thinks that he can buck the system, or tell the people to go shove it when they want to see what else he has to his name.
For myself, I’m not really too interested in where all of his money is. I would question, however, whether he gives more of his money to the Church of the Latter Day Saints, or to the United States of America. One of these amounts doesn’t affect me in the least, but the other amount is of great interest to me.
It’s a fair question to ask of a man who would be the leader of this nation: Do the Mormons get more of your money than the Americans do? And if so–or if the two numbers are even remotely similar to each other–what does that say to the non-Mormons among us? Church above country, perhaps? That’s how it was for him in the 1960s, when he was a Mormon missionary living in a French castle, while other men his age were fighting and dying in Vietnam.
Can a nation founded on the principle of religious freedom abide a president who doesn’t hire accountants and hide his money offshore and lowball his income when it comes to tithing to his church, but then does all of these things and more when it comes to paying his taxes? Since this country is deep in debt, and needs all the revenue it can find, doesn’t Romney’s ducking and dodging seem contrary to the idea of helping to get this nation back on track?
By refusing to release his tax returns, Romney has already given us all a clue about how he would conduct himself in office if he wins in November. And it’s not a pretty sight, so far as I can tell. He’ll do whatever he wants, thank you very much, and those who don’t like it can just shut up. That’s maybe the best reason of all for denying him the presidency to begin with.