Quote: “Truth never damages a cause that is just,” (Mahatma Gandhi)
In the news: Federal Whistleblowers would do it again, even after retaliation and “professional suicide.” (Joe Davidson, The Washington Post, 10.04.2019)
In context: America is the world’s land of freedom guided by laws developed in line with a founding Constitution. Americans today can call 911 in case of trouble and help will arrive. After the 9/11 attack, the NY Transit Authority adopted the slogan that if you see something, say something. Public safety was worth extra effort.
At the moment, the complex US government has no such handy tool to sound an alarm. All it has is the 1989 Whistleblower Protection Act that calls on federal employees to report suspected misconduct.
Those in government are either elected, appointed or dedicated career professionals. Those elected reflect the voice of the people in theory. In reality, they attain office based on money raised for campaigns in tandem with visibility reached either on air or in person at rallies. Appointees are chosen by those elected based on donations to campaigns, often through ties of mutual contacts. In contrast, career professionals enter the government to develop skills in service to the country.
The ingenious US Constitution entrusted government to three co-equal branches to act as checks on each other. Congress is made up of the House and Senate that together make laws by getting agreement on any law passed. The Executive branch headed by the President then puts the law into practice. The Judiciary as the third branch rules in the event of conflict.
For example, if the President wants a wall and the Congress representing the populace doesn’t want to fund the venture, the courts will decide on the way forward. The courts, however, have many layers, up from state courts and appeals courts to district courts and on up o the Supreme Court.
That interaction of the government’s three branches has been worked out for more than 250 years. Since the 2016 election of President Donald Trump, the Constitutional foundation of the United States has been under challenge.
Donald TRump came into office as a maverick, He was already notorious as a dicey business tycoon known for man-handling the law. He fashioned that questionable skill into entertainment with a TV show where his trademark was the devastating verdict of “You’re fired!”
Audience interest in terms of ratings lasted long enough for Trump to jump into politics with a splash based on the same qualities of audience capture that had landed him a TV gig when his businesses were tanking. Once in the Oval Office, Trump turned his well-honed skills into shredding the US Constitution and the world order based on the global development of legal norms.
Increasingly during his 2-plus years in office, Trump has become more forthright about defying the Constitutional guidelines. By lies, defiance and betrayals of hard-won long-standing allegiances, he claims as his right of office to warp the sysem and make it work in favor of his personal interests. As reinforcement for his stance, he holds his audience with sensation, which in turn holds hostage the political party that he, as a practiced con-man, has chosen to be his army of shills.
The modus operandi of the Trump conglomerate has been obfuscation, the burial of traces about wrongdoing. Tie the system into knots that can’t be unraveled seems the Trump brand.
Practiced at the federal government level from the Oval Office where the President’s word carries weight worldwide, the standoff between the Constitution and Presidential power to defy it seemed at a standstill until a Whistleblower dared all in defense of a world that made sense.
The whistleblower is an every-person carrying out and accepted job. At any level, the person has advanced up in the ranks. Their goal is to do their part in the complex government machinery, A blip of trouble does not strike panic. Repeated blips sound alarm like the national US emergency number of 911.
Whistleblowers must go through agony before taking action. They see, they question their perception, they ponder the wisdom of disclosing what they suspect, take a step, and perhaps come up against firm discouragement, They reconsider, try to find peace and then finally decide they have to act.
In taking action, whistleblowers have nothing to gain and everything to lose. A 1989 law protects them but the current administration under Donald Trump is intent on pushing constitutional norms beyond their limits.
The whistleblowers of today under threat of vitriol from the highest level of government deserve a Medal of Honor for valor in battle. Because of them, the Constitution will stay intact despite the most heinous attack long deserving of impeachment even before a questionable election to office. Once beyond this phase in America’s fight for its leading position in the world as the world’s beacon toward freedom and justice, whistleblowers here just may be able to free thone in other countries to come forward under the protection of laws upheld by the mighty US.