To the Editor:
Corruption ensures that the interests of well-connected people perpetuate their own wealth, power and access. Corruption in Washington is a deep problem that must be addressed. I hope that if our democracy weathers the Trump era, the people will press for and achieve some significant reform and common sense transparency that will enables us to see who and how government leaders are profiting from their connections/investments/legislation.
Let’s start with insisting on tax returns and open records of all who hold public office. We still have never seen Trump’s tax returns, and that is a grave problem. Although he ran on a campaign of draining the swamp, and although he himself is a son of inherited privilege and wealth generated from his father’s unscrupulous business practices, and although his own business dealings in New York real estate and New Jersey casinos are case studies in corruption ( where Trump advanced not through genius deal-making but through raw and unethical practices, AKA, “dirty pool”), still, he rose. Trump now wields his craft in our highest office, where his ability to distract, deflect, and divide is a high art form. It is amazing and frightening to see his skill in playing on people’s fears and his ability to successfully project his own craven behavior on his adversaries. He excels at muddying the waters.
It’s a chicken or egg question whether corruption corrodes character or people of lesser character are drawn to offices where they can serve their own greed, but we have before us a much bigger problem than corruption. We have, leading this nation, an authoritarian who does not believe in the Union of our States. He will divide us at any cost: calling for civil war and pulling in our greatest adversaries as pawns in a pursuit in which the only winner that will ever matter is himself. The hallmarks of this presidency are lies, personal access for profit, and finding more affinity with dictators abroad than with his own countrymen. Robert Mueller, of Trump’s own party, described in his report eight ways Trump tried to obstruct justice during the Russia investigation, but Justice Department rules precluded Mueller’s ability to act on that obstruction. We can hope and must insist that Congress, which is constitutionally obligated to balance the power of the Executive Branch will meet that duty with intelligence and integrity.
Anne Molleur Hanson