According to Merriam-Webster, a “kleptocracy” is “a government by those who seek chiefly status and personal gain at the expense of the governed.”
I’d thought of an administration headed by FuckFace Von Clownstick* as perhaps an Idiocracy (a mediocre movie that now seems a bit prescient), but never imagined that the United States could devolve into something that – to me – always seemed exclusive to banana republics and corrupt third world countries.
However, if you Google the word “kleptocracy”, many of the links that appear on the first page are links to articles that identify a Trump administration as a kleptocracy … and these articles are from publications that actually practice journalistic standards, such as the Washington Post (November 16), New York Magazine (November 23), and the Los Angeles Times (today, November 27).
There’s also a link to testimony given to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this past June by Sarah Chayes, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace – at the invitation of Senator Bob Corker.
So a kleptocracy is and has been very much a real thing.
On today’s Sunday morning edition of AM Joy (MSNBC), Joy Reid discussed a recent CNN/ORC poll that shows 53% of respondents indicated they are “concerned” that Trump would veto laws to protect his business interests.
During the quasi-off the record meeting Trump had with the New York Times this past week, he said that “In theory, I can be president of the United States and run my business one hundred percent, sign checks on my business” but indicated that he was in the process of transitioning the day-to-day administration of the Trump Organization to Eric Trump, Donald Trump, Jr., Ivanka Trump and a few key executives.
Would these individuals be the same Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump, Jr., and Eric Trump who are key members of their father’s transition team and therefore have substantial input into the composition of their father’s government? Are these the same three individuals who joined their father in a meeting with his Indian business partners on November 15? Is this the same Ivanka Trump who joined her President-Elect father in his conference with with the Japanese Prime Minister on November 17 ….. a session that Vice President-Elect Mike Pence was only allowed to join as it was nearing its end (Politico, 11/17/16)?
Drain the swamp, my ass.
Where is the outrage about this? Not just by print journalism, but by the same millions of individuals who decried the alleged “pay for play” politics of the Clinton Foundation? As Joy Reid rightfully pointed out this morning, a far greater outcry occurred when ABC News broke the story of Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s fiery rhetoric during the 2008 campaign.
Antics by Trump & Co. have long been normalized, and we are dangerously close to normalizing behavior that can turn us into that banana republic I’d imagined. It’s now okay for a president to have spent years trying to undermine a sitting president through racism. It’s now acceptable to have a president who’s demonstrated a deep disregard and belittlement of women. It’s fine to have a president who settles a case through which he is accused of defrauding thousands of people through a scam university. It’s okay to elect a president who doesn’t pay federal income taxes or donate money to charity. It’s acceptable to elect a president who’s primary campaign plank is based on deep xenophobia.
Please, please, let’s not normalize turning the United States into a kleptocracy. Otherwise, we really have no remaining shred of decency or pride.
BE VIGILANT AND BE HEARD – OFTEN. PUT YOUR CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVES IN YOUR PHONE’S CONTACT LIST, AND CALL THEM EVERY DAY.
*My apologies for this appellation. Although I’ve tried, I am still unable to quite say “President-Elect Tr …”. Until then, I will either simply say “Trump” or this name, assigned to Trump by Jon Stewart during the Great Twitter War of 2013.