Our newsfeeds have been overwhelmed in recent weeks with the impeachment hearings of the American president Donald Trump. He is charged with violating American laws, primarily the U.S. Constitution. With regard to many of the accusations, Trump supporters point out that he is not doing anything recent Democrat and Republican presidents have not also done.
It is interesting to note that, for the most part, they are correct.
The United States Constitution is one of the most revered human rights documents in the world. Its writers are praised as visionaries, yet the country supposedly governed by this constitution has seen its principles horribly violated. What happened?
Quite honestly, past presidents bent the rules, the legislatures turned a blind eye, the news media did a poor job reporting and the general public allowed it to happen. The American Constitution stipulates, for example, that only Congress can declare war and bring the nation from a state of peace to a state of war. George W. Bush, however, invaded Iraq. Barack Obama invaded Libya. These are only two recent examples of the violation of this article of the Constitution.
Conservative American Constitutional scholar Bruce Fein has outlined 13 articles of impeachment of Donald Trump. It is not that others haven't violated the rights of American citizens; it is simply that Donald Trump's violations have been the most egregious.
It should also be noted that violations of human rights have happened in other developed countries as well, but statistics point to their greatest decline in America.
While life expectancy has increased throughout most of the world in recent decades, life expectancy in the United States has been dropping since 2014. It is the only wealthy country to experience this phenomenon, and it is not something that can be blamed on Trump.
Many educational experts are also discussing what they call a "literacy crisis" in America, pointing out that over 30 million American adults cannot function beyond the third grade level. University tuition rates are also among the highest in the world in the United States, as are student debts, thus putting a great deal of financial stress on those who are not in the wealthy class. It is important to note that this is a global trend, however, and these costs have been increasing for decades. Again, one cannot blame Trump.
The Ronald Reagan era saw the appearance of private, for profit prisons in the United States. Despite declining crime rates, incarceration rates in the United States have continued to soar. Today, they have the highest documented incarceration rate in the world and a very disproportional number of visible minorities in prison. Again, this is not a Trump phenomenon.
Recent years have also seen wages for CEOs balloon while real wages for common workers have declined, with the American minimum wage frozen at $7.25 an hour since 2009. Today the average CEO is paid 271 times the wage of the average worker in the United States. It is important to note as well that this is a global trend. The wage disparity in Canada, for example, is 149 to 1. It should also be pointed out that it was not Trump who bailed out the banks in 2009.
Despite the fact that he cannot be blamed for all of the troubles of the world, Trump has inadvertently mobilized the American public and people around the world who believe in the rights of the common citizen. While these issues may be felt most deeply in the United States, it is dangerous for any of us to point our fingers at America and claim that we are exempt.
In far too many ways the citizens of the world have been asleep since the protests of the 1960s and 1970s.
Thank you, Mr. Trump, for rousing us from our complacency.
- Gerry Chidiac is a champion for social enlightenment, inspiring others to find their greatness in making the world a better place. For more of his writings, go to www.gerrychidiac.com