Attn: Dr. Robert Minor
I have lived nearly 73 years and during those years I have seen continuous abuse of power by those who claim power by virtue of their ambition, initiative, intelligence, family background, entrepreneurial impulses and talent. By whatever means and circumstances, they have risen to a place of political and economic leadership and that gave them power to make decisions affecting my life and the lives of millions when such leaders attained high political and administrative offices.
Perhaps the best that can be said is, with the qualifications already listed, they performed as expected and were received by some and criticized by others and maybe even outright rejected. When pushed, some of them were forced by law, evidence of their extra legal activities or at the very least morally and ethically culpable activities, they were pushed to resign or even indicted for actions violating oaths of office and the public trust automatically given to those who are leaders, no matter their political party.
The highest leadership positions in our nation are given to those who are successful economically and politically and have as their helpers like-minded people and party members. In America, it seems that we tolerate well a leadership that wields political and economic power; they use whatever dividends they can garner to offer the hoi polloi some like a piece of the American economic pie.
Capitalism trumps poverty and we value capitalism above “doing the right things” because we value doing the right things that lead us to get ahead and maintain and advance a lifestyle that is only enhanced by a bottom line that shows a profit. Sometimes the right things are overlooked and moral and ethical considerations become distant goals. Now, at almost every turn, technology supports our economic and political goals. Clearly, we want to dominate the international market and our position as a strong economic, political, and military power in our world. We have always been able to adjust “doing the right things” to coincide with our best interests as defined by our leaders and sometimes enacted in laws that seem to arise as the need to justify certain actions.
There is a lack of careful watchfulness that is the job of citizens of this great country. We have allowed for the foibles and have let go strong demands for moral and ethical standards that led to a bottom line that says to all who see it, we are going to “do the right things.”
Our esteemed past president General Dwight David Eisenhower, for whom our airport is named, warned, in a final address to the people of America, to paraphrase, we should, as citizens, jealously guard against an overzealous joining of the military industrial complex, already strongly linked and deeply influential in our national political and economic life. We have ignored Ike’s warning and subsequent presidents have yielded to the power of industry linked to military defense and offensive capabilities. Hence multibillion dollar aircraft carrier and other planes, ships, and weapon systems on the drawing board or already in production. We don’t know what is happening exactly and that goes to the citizen oversight that is a part of our responsibility. We cannot depend on the Executive Branch and Legislative Branch or the Judicial Branch to consider things only on the basis of “do the right things.” We must hold them accountable and we must insure that “power makes right” only when it is power to do the right things nationally and internationally.
We are currently faced with a political and administrative and even an economic leadership that proposes that the might of this country should be applied to building a billion dollar plus wall between our country and Mexico. More needed construction and repair of our infrastructure is bypassed and aid for educational purposes is also bypassed. The national will to do something reasonable related to immigration is replaced by activity that will lead to a barrier enforced by heavily armed guards and a surveillance system supported by a technology that could be used in ways we find reprehensible and far from any understanding of “doing the right things.”
I urge people to contact their senators and representatives and to make known that we reject billions for a wall while other more humane projects go begging. We also must react to presidential power to issue “executive orders” and “executive privilege” that bypasses congressional oversight and therefore bypasses the representative democracy that we value. With that power, the president can justify any action he wants to take and closing our border to immigration and targeting one or more groups of people in his “orders” is not why we elected him as president. He must be reminded that this is representative government and if the representative merely rubber stamp “okay” on his agenda, we must use the power to impeach and remove from high office those who do not accept their accountability or the moral and ethical demands to do the right things.
We forget that with power and privilege comes responsibility to use that power and privilege to be of help to our nation and to our world. The abuse of that power and the ugly nature of restrictive orders raises the question of racism and of a nationalism that can very easily be twisted so saying the “right things” can be laid aside. This should scare most Americans and make us consider mass protests as a response to such abuses of power.
William L. Ripley, Wichita