Where The Right’s Lionizing of Kyle Rittenhouse Intersects with Tax Sentiment

A Kyle Rittenhouse supporter in Kenosha Wisconsin standing near Bradford High School — Wikimedia Commons, Lightburst

Republican Sen. Tom Cotton believes President Biden owes Kyle Rittenhouse an apology.

Republican Congressmen Matt Gaetz and Madison Cawthorn are actively wooing the now 18-year-old for an internship in their office.

While the Democrats in Congress are celebrating the passage of the Build Back Better bill that would invest in Universal Pre-K, climate preservation, healthcare, childcare, education and housing, Republicans are celebrating a 17-year-old for killing two and severely injuring another in a series of acts that a Wisconsin jury has found to be non-criminal.

The political right’s reaction to Kyle Rittenhouse and the not-guilty verdicts should be unsurprising for many reasons. But anti-tax sentiment has more in common with this reaction than we might initially think. Opposition to taxes is often framed as an objection to society telling the individual how their money should be spent. It is their hard-earned money, the argument goes, so they should have the right to do with it as they please. If they want to use it for their kid’s education, or for healthcare, or for guns — at the end of the day, anti-taxxers argue it is an individual’s choice to decide what to do with their money, nobody else’s.

Embedded in this idea is that individuals have no responsibility to others in society. I have no responsibility for your health, the education of your children, or the safety of your family. And because I have no responsibility to society, the argument goes, I should also not be held to account by society. It is why Republicans in the Senate could not bring themselves to increase funding for the IRS to help pay for the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act just signed into law earlier this week. It is why Gov. DeSantis in Florida and Republican politicians like him have made health mandates and being anti-mask and anti-vaccine a political, partisan issue. And it is why some elected Republicans are now cheering the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse on all charges.

For years, Republican politicians have made a career out of opposing the basic premise of a democracy — a system in which society governs itself based on a shared sense of rights and responsibilities. When Republicans make tax policies rooted in this opposition to collective responsibilities, the consequences are devastating, but usually a step or two removed from being life-threatening. When Republicans cheer Kyle Rittenhouse, partake in anti-mask and anti-vaccine propaganda, or rally around planners of the January 6 insurrection, it is strictly speaking a matter of life and death. Lives are being lost as Republican politicians continue down this anti-social agenda. It is the duty of all of us who believe in collective action to ensure our democracy is not next in line.

Tax Takes from Citizens for Tax Justice here. CTJ is a partner in the movement for transformative change. Find out more at http://ctj.org