Believe It, You Matter: The “May Contain Peanuts” presidency.
Sarah Jane here. I write all the Believe It, You Matter entries. Offering this in case it helps you talk to friends who might have voted for Trump in 2016, who lean Republican, and who are struggling with who to vote for in 2020.
Ok, so you go to the store and you buy a bag of peanuts. *As you’re having your snack, you idly flip it over and notice that on the back, in a far smaller font, there’s a warning:
May contain peanuts.
This despite the fact that it says PEANUTS in two-inch-high red letters on the front of the goddamn package.
Why the hell is that warning there?
It’s there because a) the company that sells the peanuts got sued by someone, and they got nailed for not having an explicit, legible warning printed on the package, or b) the lawyer for the company got spooked by a similar lawsuit and insisted they put that language on the package, just in case.
It seems ridiculous to warn people that a package of peanuts contains peanuts. It should be self-evident. And guess what? It IS self-evident to virtually everyone. The vast majority of people who are allergic to peanuts read the front of the package and stay far away.
Except one guy.
There’s ALWAYS that guy.
And somehow That Guy finds a That Guy Lawyer and brings a ludicrous lawsuit claiming that a bag of peanuts that says peanuts on the front is not enough of a warning. So the company does a collective eye-roll and tells the graphics department to put the warning on the back of the goddamn package, just in case.
Trump is That Guy.
There’s a bunch of things that everyone who runs the country, or wants to, does because it’s The Right Thing To Do.
An example of that is candidates for president releasing their tax return at some point in their campaigns.
They do that because Richard Nixon submitted some hinky-looking tax returns in the early 1970s. The hinkiness fed into the Watergate scandal. It was the tax thing, NOT Watergate, that prompted Nixon to famously say, “I am not a crook.”
Anyway. Since Nixon, all presidential candidates have released a series of tax returns from their recent past, to show they’re clean and hink-free.
It wasn’t, and isn’t, a law. It never needed to be.
Everyone understood that releasing their tax returns was The Right Thing To Do, and it let the public get a clearer picture of the people who wanted the job of Leader of the Free World.
Oh, he PROMISED, as a candidate, to release them, but he never got around to it, and the GOP never got around to demanding that he do it before picking him as their 2016 nominee.
As President, Trump famously said, “Hmmm, nah, not gonna,” and KellyAnne Conway was wheeled out to back him up.
As I type this in late March 2019, the Dems who run the House of Representatives are in the process of summoning Trump’s tax returns. [I have no idea why it’s taking so goddamn long.] Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin is bracing for a fight, even though Congress definitely has the right to ask for them.
But the Dems shouldn’t have to ask for them, because Trump should have released them like every single other candidate has since Nixon. And the GOP should have told him “Release your goddamn tax returns, or you can’t be the 2016 Republican nominee. Simple as that, dude,” and they should have followed through.
But he didn’t, and they didn’t, so here we are.
Because of Trump, we now have to codify in law what everyone did voluntarily for decades, because while their individual political worldviews might be shitty, they, themselves, were not shitbags.
Because of the GOP, we now have to codify in law what they should have stepped up and enforced, voluntarily, because they’re craven cowards who claim to hate regulations and big government, but they won’t do what’s necessary help create a world in which people Do The Right Thing without being compelled to by law.
Trump is That Guy.
Fuck That Guy!
Fuck him for forcing us to pass laws covering acts that everyone before him was sensible enough to do without having to be compelled. Fuck him for his shitbaggery that’s forcing us to say, “Hey, you presidential candidates can’t be a shitbag in this particularly obvious way, or else.”
Fuck the GOP for not stepping up when it mattered.
Fuck him for making the process of running for high office that little bit more grim and tedious.
Trump is That Guy.
Don’t re-elect That Guy.
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*I have not encountered such a bag of peanuts in the wild, but I have encountered other products with equally absurd warnings on their packaging. I have not meticulously cataloged them with photographic evidence.