Saturday, November 26, 2016

On the Bright Side, the Trump Presidency will help my knowledge of Civics

Everyone has an abundance of life experience prior to gaining any elected office. This leads to the creation of regulations of what you can and cannot do while in that office. At any level it is important that the elected official act in the best interests of his/her constituents while functioning in that position. Each level of government, and even more specifically each office often has its own set of regulations and guidelines to make certain that the elected officials knows what he or she is allowed to do. 

I can tell you from experience that there are very strict obligations at the very lowest level of government, and that even the appearance of impropriety in this regard can lead to significant concern, and then trouble for those involved. Unfortunately, our society seems to make a joke of the idea that all politicians are corrupt, in my experience nothing could be farther from the truth. There are however, significant opportunities to act in a corrupt manner.

When someone is tasked with managing the budget, or the resources of a community, they need to be steadfast in those dealings. When managing someone else’s money, transparency in private business, and in the public’s business is of the utmost importance. In some cases this is a very hard lesson for new politicians to understand. One of the very first things some small towns do is put new officials through an orientation, so that these rules can be explained.

There are two different concerns that I feel might be a concern with President-Elect Trump. The first and the one being reported on most by the media is the ‘Emoluments Clause’. This is in reference to Article I section IX, clause VIII, and a possible violation of this clause. Now I will admit that I did not know the exact definition of the word ‘emolument’, I know most of you use the word all the time, but I do not so I went ahead and looked it up. Emolument means: “ the returns arising from office or employment usually in the form of compensation or perquisites”. (Merriam-Webster)

Now this basically states, as I understand it that the President can not be bribed. From my perspective, that only takes care of half of the problem. The President-Elect has a myriad of business holding through out the world. This was one of the reasons some people felt that he should be elected to the office in the first place.

However, these same interests might be getting in the way. In some countries there is an expectation of bribery in business dealings. In response to this the US government passed the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977. This Act does not allow American companies to bribe foreign officials to garner business.  (Hamilton, 1981)  So not only can the President not take a bribe, but he/she can not be seen as offering a bribe either, if it just so happens that he has private business concerns.

President Trump is on record as saying that the law is ‘horrible’ and that countries such as Mexico and China that allow bribes, should be the watchdogs for this sort of behavior. (Silverstein, 2015) There are rumors that President-Elect Trump spoke to elected officials in both Great Britain, and in South America about various personal business dealings. Can we be sure that there was no offer of special political favors if the private concerns were properly addressed?

Is this making ‘America Great Again’ fulfilling our national destiny as a ‘Shining City on a Hill’, showing our ‘Exceptionality’, or is this just about creating a business advantage and making us even with countries that have no labor protections or expectations of transparency?

Bibliography
Hamilton, M. (1981, May 22nd). Hill Told Bribe Law Suspension Would Boost Worldwide Pact. Washington Post .
Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Emolument. Retrieved from Merriam-Webster.com: merriam-webster.com/dictionary/emolument
Silverstein, E. (2015, August). Donald Trump has called the FCPA a 'horrible' law. Inside Counsel .


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