The issues related to Donald Trump’s taxes and Hillary Clinton’s emails are real and revealing all on their own without imagining criminal intent or rule-breaking that is not otherwise evident. But in a social-political climate that fans the flames of fear, we Americans let our considerable imaginations run wild, assuming the worst. The fact of the matter is that each of them acted in a manner supported by their respective settings/businesses, and we are the real culprits for presuming more guilt than really exists instead of focusing on what the known facts actually tell us.
It is a fact that as of October 2, 2016, Donald Trump has not released his taxes. It is not legally required that he do so, but it has become a modern-day norm since the 1970’s for presidential nominees to do so. In fact, Trump advised Mitt Romney to release his taxes in 2012. We are wrong to assume that these facts reveal an attempt by Trump to cover up criminal activity or shady business deals/partners. We can however assume that Trump holds himself to a different standard than his peers; a troubling ethical question, which has been underscored by his own conduct throughout this campaign.
Meanwhile, the New York Times asserts that Trump may not have paid taxes for many years following an alleged 1995 tax filing of potentially 900+ million dollar loss, casting doubt on Trump’s business acumen. This does not reveal anything new or surprising. Tax codes make it fairly easy and even common for extremely wealthy individuals to avoid taxes. At the end of the day these facts merely reveal that Trump is probably just who he says he is: a rich man (albeit one who has filed multiple bankruptcies). If you do not like it, then vote for tax reform that does not favor the super rich.
As to Hillary Clinton, an extensive investigation was initiated following concerns about Benghazi, which falsely presumed misdoing and cover-up due to conflicting reports of the likely attackers in the first 13 hours after the attack. Meanwhile, her use of a personal email account at the Department of State came into question and the resulting FBI report, which reviewed roughly 40,000 emails, finds no criminal activity or intent, but rather reveals that personal emails were used by staff for expediency as a matter of “business as usual” in the Department of State, dating back even to Colin Powell’s personal AOL account. Apparently this was due to antiquated systems and classifications, and the need for real-time communications to be effective in their work.
The real and troubling issue related to Hillary Clinton and email practices in the Department of State is that she evidently did not have technical savvy and did not provide the kind of modern, visionary leadership one would hope for in that regard. Wouldn’t it have been better if, upon entering the Department of State, she used her position to question and strengthen internal security practices, rather than negotiate a comfortable method for juggling her non-classified email communications?
People say it comes down to trust. I trust them each to be exactly who they are. The question is, which one is most likely to have learned from their past such that they can become a better leader in future? Trump makes no apology and still dances on the question of releasing his taxes. Meanwhile Clinton says, “I am sorry and would not do that again.” For this factual reason alone, “I’m with her” on this one.