Opinion: The Accountability Election


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In Brian Kors’ eleventh grade history class, every Friends Select student is taught that “the government is an umbrella.” Brian asserts that it is up to the American people to hold their peers and politicians accountable; the canopy of the law does not exist unless we open the umbrella. After a disastrous Trump presidency, it is imperative that the American people use their power to vote to hold the President accountable, because it is now apparent that nobody else will.

In January, President Trump was impeached after a U.S. House of Representatives trial found that he withheld foreign aid from Ukraine in an attempt to extort damaging information against former Vice President Biden. This trial provided clear evidence that President Trump abused presidential power for his own gain, yet he escaped virtually unpunished. The Senate, the only entity with the ability to remove the president from office, failed in its responsibility to hold President Trump accountable for his impeachable offenses earlier this year. The checks and balances defined in the constitution have been corrupted, so the American people are now the last defense against tyranny. This November’s election is not simply a choice between Biden and Trump, or Democrats and Republicans: it is a battle between the constitution and total autocracy.

Trump’s political transgressions pale in comparison to his catastrophic mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic. The president’s repeated scientifically inaccurate statements about the virus have encouraged his supporters to ignore safety protocols, leading to thousands of preventable deaths and further economic ruin. Per his own admission to Bob Woodward, President Trump understood the dangerous nature of COVID-19 as early as February 7th, yet willfully ignored the virus to protect his public image. 

The actions for which President Trump must be held accountable extend far beyond his decisions on public health and policy. While offensive, discriminatory, and inappropriate comments are not grounds for impeachment, President Trump’s repeated derogatory statements prove he is unfit for office. He has called African countries “sh*tholes,” encouraged lethal force against citizens protesting systemic racism, and insinuated that famous men can treat women as sexual objects. There is no legal avenue to punish the president for these remarks, but his unprofessionalism and habitual disrespect are clear reasons to vote against him this fall. 

The need for increased accountability in government extends beyond the oval office. Attorney General Bill Barr, a Trump appointee, has repeatedly assisted the President in ignoring rule of law and violating civil liberties. As the head of the Justice Department, Barr has disregarded transparency and authorized violence to disperse peaceful protesters to make space for a presidential photo-op. He has interfered in the Mueller investigation, struck lenient sentences for Trump’s allies, and attempted to terminate New York U.S. Attorney Geoffery Berman for political reasons. Because Barr is the president’s most loyal defender and a vocal proponent of unlimited executive power, Trump will never dismiss him from his post; the only way to remove Bill Barr is to vote for Joe Biden this November.

Without accountability, the government is free to prioritize emoluments over the common good. The American people have four years of evidence to indicate that President Trump and his followers will continue to destroy whatever semblance of accountability left in our government. 

Constitutional checks and balances have collapsed, resulting in a reign of terror that has jeopardized the safety and reputation of the United States. This November’s election may be the country’s last chance to prevent Trump’s attempted permanent switch to authoritarian power: Republican influence in Congress, the Department of Justice, and federal courts will continue to enable the president’s fascist tendencies. For all of the reasons enumerated in this article, it is imperative that all voting-eligible Americans cast their vote for Joe Biden this November.

Today, Brian’s umbrella metaphor is more relevant than ever. Rule of law, ethics, the U.S. Constitution, and so many other basic principles of government that we take for granted are no longer regulated by a higher power; they only exist if we defend them with our votes.