Abuse of power, corruption, violation of the social contract… If you’re an American Democrat, chances are Donald Trump’s disdain for all of those has been evident to you for quite a bit. The spectacle of the President using the power of his office to urge the leader of Ukraine, and now China, to investigate a political rival has pushed even reluctant impeachers over the brink.
The American people deserve to know the full story, says House Leader Nancy Pelosi—and she’s right.
So then, let’s look at that full story. Abuse of power, corruption, a social contract in shreds. Think corruption in the USA, and the American media have trained us to think of one man: Trump. He is the perfectly constricting frame. His name’s emblazoned on clothing and consumer goods and buildings across the world—in gold. He’s obsessively concerned about his own personal brand and snarls back at every slight in his own personal way with his own personal tweet.
With his decades in the spotlight, Trump’s a TV star in a fame-addled state that loves to love or hate stars. Trump makes it easy to pin our corruption problem on a person, and that’s the story our clicks-and-commercials-driven media likes.
But what if our corruption problem wasn’t purely personal? The personal matters when the person in question is the most powerful man on the planet, but what if the full picture is fuller than that?
Look around. From Puerto Rico to Hong Kong, and now Iraq, Haiti, and Kiev, people everywhere are rising up.
Writing in a local paper blessedly preserved for the people in Philadelphia and kept out of monopoly control, Will Bunch, columnist for the Inquirer, wrote Sunday that the autumn of 2019 is fast becoming the most revolutionary season on Planet Earth since 1989 when the Berlin Wall fell and it took a dictator’s tanks to subdue protesters at Tiananmen Square.
The common thread, he writes, from Moscow to San Juan, has been “an epidemic” of political corruption.
“It’s a story that arguably begins in the 1980s, when a worldwide movement toward liberal democracy masked the more significant fact that an elite technocratic class and a religious fervor for unrestrained capitalism was creating inequality on an epic scale.”
To return to that fuller picture, we live in a nation where at least 40 million, and in reality, as many as 140 million, live in poverty, and three individuals have a combined wealth of $248.5 billion—the same wealth as the bottom 50%. We live in a nation with the highest incarceration rate in the world, where especially if you’re poor or restive or dissatisfied, getting locked up is a constant threat. We live in a nation where the highest court in the land defends the freedom of money more assiduously than the freedom of people. Our democracy, like our media, is essentially pay to play. Many believe it’s rigged.
In a system that unequal, corruption is not just the way we swim, it’s the water we swim in, and no inquiry on earth is going to fix that.
From that sort of corruption, a whistleblower won’t save us. A whole nation of them of might.
You can see my recent interview with the good people from the Economic Hardship Reporting Project, and see my upcoming interview with activists from Hong Kong, at our website: Lauraflanders.org