The April 15 Tax March in Washington, DC, reiterating 200 others nationwide and even in some places overseas, drew a crowd of 25,000 protesting Trump's refusal to release his tax returns. This violates a protocol active since the Watergate scandal. President Nixon was the first to comply and all presidents after him did so as well, unquestioningly.
Democracy is hard work, I thought, scribbling, photographing, and later marching nearly three miles. We're doing it.
"Think he's gonna listen?" asked one cynic. "Wanna go to Siberia?" asked another, both of whom I ignored.
Religion opened and closed the two-hours rally. The initial speaker, Rabbi Nehama Benmosche, recited the Hebrew shma as I cringed awaiting anti-Semitic responses that didn't occur. Deo gratias. She spoke of the significance of Passover Week this day before Easter--how the Children of Israel had thrown off Pharoah's oppression. People's power is huge, she told us. I am the rich daughter of the former head of AIG. I see nonetheless that our tax system is wrong. "Let's work together to repair this world!"
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) sounded most progressive with his repeated refrain of "We're taking your gloves off, knock off the tax rip-off!" No more money to Cayman Islands to duck taxes! No more outsourcing employment! Knock off the secrecy and disclose your tax returns!"
Most of our taxes are subtracted from our paychecks, while the select few decide how much they pay.
The ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee compared Trump to a teenager hiding his bad report card from his parents.
"Lock him up" chanted the crowd. A later reference to "crooked Donald" reinforced this reference. By now McConnell would have already impeached Hillary if she'd been elected.
Ingenious, often paradoxical or ironic signs were everywhere. "Yo, Donny, what are you hiding?" read one. "Impeach Putin's puppet!" exhorted another. "There are too many Russian ties!" read a third depicting the president wearing three neckties. If police were present, they were in plain clothes. The atmosphere was relaxed--more so than usual, it seemed. There was nothing close to an incident requiring intervention. Uniformed police headed off traffic most cooperatively on the two busy streets of our march, Pennsylvania and Constitution Aves.
Heather McGhee, president of Demos, asked whom Trump was working for anyway. He is raising the Defense budget by $54 billion with funding cuts from We the People, but doesn't mind swallowing up the $23 billion a year in taxes from "illegal" immigrants.
The rich one percent are cheating us out of $400 billion a year, she said, but not to purify the water in Flint, Michigan. . . . "We're sending you the bill!"
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) evoked the American Revolution as he modernized the situation: taxation without representation is the plight of residents of the District of Columbia. "We have no kings here," he said. "In a democracy, the law is king." We want more than tweets reacting to television shows from a president, who is after all not a global CEO but a public servant. Before you rewrite the tax code, show us your taxes! he said. Put the United States, not yourself, first! The Russians we care about are marching in the streets of Moscow.
75 percent of the American people want Trump's taxes disclosed, said Lisa Gilbert of Public Citizen. Trump flies off to Mar-a-Lago on an average of every 2.8 days.
The two chairs of the Women's March were present. Tamika Mallory said that we had made history together. When she asked who among us had been there, every hand went up. Five million people around the world marched. We sparked resistance against sexism, racism, and fascism. We won't end with Donald Trump's taxes!
Three immigrant women speakers followed, defining taxes as a commitment to democracy. One worked at a fast-food restaurant earning $6.15 an hour, living in a single room with her four children. She pays taxes, she said.