Gary Horton | We Urgently Need a Government for the People

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These are disconcerting times for those paying close attention to the national news. There’s not much positive and a whole lot of troubling.

An impeachment trial where our highest government body is setting the stage for a trial without witnesses. A trial… without witnesses.

It’s said that innocent people have nothing to hide and thus witnesses pose no threat. Conversely, the guilty must suppress the truth to shield the guilt. 

We’re conducting an impeachment trial where critical witnesses are on the street, all over the web, begging to share testimony. Lev Parnas, the key operative in the Ukraine extortion scheme, the man who knows everything there is to know of this, is silenced. John Bolton, the in-the-know White House inside man, is silenced. This critical testimony is muzzled and murdered in the very light of day, by leader of the body charged with running the trial.

What a terrible precedent for our democracy. Our supposed Beacon of Justice is held to the world as a sham, as just another banana republic with a rigged trial for the Strong Man, where we’re a nation of tribal loyalty over a nation of laws. Yes, it is that bad, and this is how the world views us, even if our own preferred tribal TV channels protect our personal views of what things are, for what they actually are.

When Mitch McConnell derails justice and crams a non-witnessed version of acquittal down America’s throat, he will set a standard where Congress loses oversight of the executive branch. Where congressional subpoenas and requests will be ignored. Where the executive branch becomes dictatorial — at least for the period of office — which if the international leaders-for-life trends hold, may even become of question here, also.

To shake all this off as “politics” is to underestimate potential for even greater abuse, nepotism, corruption, and railroading of special interest legislation.

And yet all this happens while almost nothing is happening in Washington for the public good. Americans’ most pressing concerns remain continually unaddressed by those charged with representing us. Lobbyists rule the halls of power…

Health care is a runaway freight train crashing through the homes of nearly every working-class family. Health care is now a “poll tax” or per-head tax of nearly $8,000 per every American. We pay $10,000, $15,000, $20,000 per year and more to protect our families from the shock and awe of the insatiable health-care industry shielded from reform by ill-founded but legal lobbying. We pay five times, 10 times, sometimes 20 times more for drugs than other nations – and we bear this weight on our future while a president with nearly unlimited influence does… nothing.

Student loan debt follows closely behind health care. Our education system is built to exploit those we should care for most – and instead, we weight our own kids with $50,000, $100,000, $250,000 of debt, often with draconian terms – just as they’re starting out. We can dismiss this as “capitalism” – but remember, we’re in competition with a global economy launching their kids forward with fractions of these costs. Not only are our kids compromised, but our global competitiveness is also jeopardized. But no peeps out of this White House. 

Meanwhile, our government is tearing through cash like a ship full of drunken sailors. Our annual deficits run an unprecedented $1.1 trillion every year. That’s $1,100,000,000,000.00, every year. Annual interest on our debt is $479 billion. This will double by 2028! This increased debt must be paid. And what do we Americans get for this profligacy? No relief on medical. Nada on education. Don’t look for modern infrastructure.

Instead of public investment, we have a military expense eclipsing the next 10 nations combined. One consuming 55% of our discretionary funds. A military that can’t avoid continuous wars at astronomical human cost and suffering. Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq – trillions spent and blood and hell. Results far, far from the “nation-building” we were sold.

Funding these upside-down priorities, we’ve got a tax structure shamelessly rewarding the very rich at the expense of the middle class. A tax structure allowing hundreds of our most profitable companies to pay zero taxes; that has loopholes for the top 1% that would spin your head if you only knew…

We can’t afford this madness we’re doing, and we pay for it by borrowing $1.1 trillion every year. This irresponsible budgetary boondoggle persists, year after year, and will lead to ruin, with responsibility shared all around.

These are indeed serious and disconcerting times. 

Ironically, at this time of peak partisanism and tribalism – this is actually the exact time that instead requires intelligent, purposeful collaborative national corrective action.

Instead, with the world aghast at the sight, America veers in real time, toward greater corruptive power consolidation in a rigged impeachment trial.

We could, can, and should, demand and vote for far better.

Gary Horton’s “Full Speed to Port!” has appeared in The Signal since 2006. The opinions expressed in his column do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Signal or its editorial board.

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