“By ensuring that no one in government has too much power, the Constitution helps protect ordinary Americans every day against abuse of power by those in authority.” – Chief Justice John Roberts
We are all in this together — in this country, USA, and even if we pretend we are far removed from what is happening in the White House, we are all affected by what our President does.
Imagine how he is now threatening a major pillar to our social safety net — throw out medical services for the aged, the seniors, the disabled, the children, and more and let them suffer. In the meantime, after enabling internal suffering in the millions, after furloughing 800,000 federal workers, he wants to do millions more by building the border walls. This time his obsession with his manly “wall” is really an aggressive statement that “I am king” regardless of what US Constitution says that all three branches of government (executive, judicial, legislative) are co-equal and are in parity, the way the founders intended it to be.
The U.S. republic is only 243 years old, if we count that the Declaration of Independence was adopted on July 4, 1776. We now have 21st century’s imperialistic president who wants to overreach his executive powers to cover even the legislative authority to appropriate funding, provide oversight and to make laws. He has been thwarted in his efforts by the US Senate of late, when they voted 59-41 to rebuke and reverse his declaration of “national emergency” on the border with 12 Republicans joining a solid Democratic bloc. This time, these Republicans are prioritizing the country over their party.
But a lot of this national emergency is a man-made crisis by this 45th U.S. President. The Daily Podcast of the New York Times on Nov. 21 reported 700,000 pending asylum cases in the U.S. So why would Pres. Trump send over 5,000 military troops when he could have sent analysts and lawyers that would have reduced the backlog?
Instead, Trump introduced metering where only 30 asylum applicants can apply daily. Crowds that are in the thousands have resorted to arbitrary encampments at the border, essentially waiting for their turn to apply for asylum and that waiting can be for months, if not years, as only 30 are allowed to apply each day.
These mothers were fleeing persecution at the hands of gang members, facing the certainty of death if they do not comply so they have opted to protect their children and are simply seeking safety and a new future.
So if these potential refugees are following the procedures of applying for asylum, why are these families being demonized as if they are criminals and part of gangs that they are fleeing from? Do you sense a blatant institutional racist policy from the President?
Is it any wonder why Michael Cohen characterized him as a racist, a con man and a cheat and elaborated on some of his “expansive pattern of lies and criminality,” according to the New York Times?
In his testimony before U.S. Congress’ oversight committee headed by U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings, he provided copies of checks made out from Donald Trump’s charitable foundation signed by Donald Trump, Jr. and the Trump organization’s lawyer, Allan Weisselberg and another check signed by Donald Trump himself to silence two women with sordid past affairs with him, Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal just before the 2016 Presidential elections. Stormy Daniels was reported to have had an affair with the U.S. President and was paid $130,000 to be quiet about the affair and Karen McDougal’s story was paid by National Enquirer who squashed the story.
We ask — why would reasonably minded folks submit to a pattern of deception for access to power? Why would anyone lose their soul and ignore the pangs of their conscience?
116th U.S. Congress oversight
We rejoice that U.S. Congress is presiding over hearings questioning Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen on the family separation policy that separated children from their parents and were held in cages. She kept parsing the definition of cages and instead referred to them as “detention spaces.” She finally agreed to the “larger than dog spaces,” and defined it as chain linked spaces placed on concrete floors, where folks can stand, move around and sit, essentially cages where non-criminals and potential refugees are housed in. As if that sanitized definition will diminish the cruelty and barbaric border policies of this administration.
What makes folks in power submit to insanity and irrational lies? What causes them to forego their own conscience and even their own humanity? When we are this inhumane to others, we too are defined by that inhumanity and we become morally misaligned.
To date, there are thousands separated from their families and when questioned, the Secretary of Homeland Security remarked “there is a list but the list is in Mexico.”
What do all these flagrant abuses of power mean to us?
It is happening not just in the US, but in other countries as well. We have in the Philippines a head of state who calls on bishops and priests as dispensable leaders with death threats shadowing those who oppose arbitrary killings and murders.
We also have flagrant abuses of power even amongst the rich, the famous and the privileged. They are now being exposed by the FBI in a $ 25 million scam of paying proctors and test takers of SAT tests to improve these rich kids’ chances at admission into college.
Two Hollywood celebrity figures, Felicity Huffmann who is involved in a non-profit promoting the inspiring lives of pioneering women in America and Lori Loughlin, posted bail after the ring leader of the scam, William Ring Singer, pled guilty last Tuesday, March 12.
Why do we find even Hollywood celebrities, sports coaches, and even academic proctors losing their consciences in promoting these scams? Have we lost our sense of propriety and decency as a nation? Are we all mired in a swamp of lies, falsehoods, and schemes to evade the truth?
We are now publicly witnessing even Pope Francis apologizing for decades and decades of abusive sexual crimes committed against the Catholic laity. We recently read about Cardinal George Pell being sentenced to six years in jail. Read that sentence again – can we reconcile Cardinal with the word jail? What happened to even our moral leaders?
Public trust and consequences of human failures
One can theorize the absence of humility, a clear case of spiritual arrogance and abuse of power. When one is a Cardinal, Bishop and even a priest, a president, a celebrity, rap singer, a musician, a television executive, a film producer, a theater director, actors, we seem to endow these public figures with public trust. That relegated higher status presumes they have “higher than normal” morals, decency and an impeccable code of conduct that respects all people. Instead, when we find them abusing our children and our women and boys, we resort to lawsuits to get justice.
But truly, the failures emanate from the home and the parents. What were the parents thinking while these children were growing up to become teenagers? Did they morally exercise their guidance and leadership? Did they tell these children – it is not okay to help yourselves to someone’s body or to someone’s wealth and feel privileged about not considering any consequences?
For example, do you feel entitled as an employee to use the company credit card for your personal expenses? Do you feel entitled to have someone pay for your travel expenses just because?
What are we supposed to gather as lessons on these flagrant abuses of power that we seem to read daily coming from the White House, the churches, the entertainment industry and now academic institutions? Are we weeding out weeds of abuses to clean up and refresh our institutions? Or are we elevating folks with hollowed out cores with no consciences and regard for consequences for their wrongdoings? Are we electing morally bankrupt folks into office because we align with them? Or not?
Spring and Lent come together to give us all opportunities for changes. I myself would need to reexamine where I have hidden cobwebs that enabled dust and dirt to accumulate inside my heart. It is time to renew and for justice to bloom once more in America and in many parts of the world.
As I write this, my heart aches for the 49 dead and 41 injured inside two mosques in New Zealand, who were killed by an Australian terrorist, as reported by NBC News March 14. It is time we root out hatred and not propagate violent words in our 21st century spaces in homes, state houses, public squares and more importantly churches and mosques. May this spring time present an opportunity for all to move away from all these barbaric animalistic actions of abuse and violence and for the rest of us to stand for truth and justice!
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Prosy Abarquez-Delacruz, J.D. writes a weekly column for Asian Journal, called “Rhizomes.” She has been writing for AJ Press for 10 years. She also contributes to Balikbayan Magazine. Her training and experiences are in science, food technology, law and community volunteerism for 4 decades. She holds a B.S. degree from the University of the Philippines, a law degree from Whittier College School of Law in California and a certificate on 21st Century Leadership from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. She has been a participant in NVM Writing Workshops taught by Prof. Peter Bacho for 4 years and Prof. Russell Leong. She has travelled to France, Holland, Belgium, Japan, Costa Rica, Mexico and over 22 national parks in the US, in her pursuit of love for nature and the arts.