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Holding our politicians accountable.

In Local News on July 3, 2017 at 12:01 pm

Deer In Headlines
By Gery L. Deer

You can’t mention “presidential tapes” or recordings without thinking of the Watergate scandal that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. His secret Oval Office recordings were considered a threat to the transparency and legitimacy of the executive branch.

Add to that just over 18 minutes that had been “accidentally” erased, a failed attempt to hide the tapes and controversy was bound to erupt. Of course, Nixon wasn’t the first U.S. President to record his private conversations. That tradition began in 1940 with Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Today President Donald Trump is under fire for secret recordings of his own. Most in question are those that might have shed some light on the sudden, yet predictable, firing of former FBI Director James Comey.  He was let go, in this writer’s opinion, because he’s not a “yes man.” Comey may have been the last independent mind anywhere close to this bizarrely-manned administration.

But these mysterious recordings are creating more mistrust of Trump’s presidency and already being compared to Watergate, almost by design, by the unpredictable Commander-In-Chief himself. So far, no recordings have been released and no special prosecutors have been named to continue the Russian election tampering investigation.

It’s highly unlikely that no other presidents kept secret recordings of calls and personal conversations. To think so would just be ignorantly naive. So why is it such a big deal to people now, and begs the question, do Americans really care? The answer is … complex.

As with any political issue, it’s more than likely the only people who care about these issues are those in opposition to whomever the controversy is aimed at in the first place. In Trump’s case, it makes sense that the Democrats will call him on this, and every other issue.

Plus, he’s earned a great deal of criticism from his own party so those Republicans who don’t support this president will also have something to say on it; partly to hold him accountable and partly so they get a few minutes behind a microphone somewhere.

It’s logical to assume that opposing parties would want to push this issue. Most people probably believe the men and women at such a high government level are untouchable and pretty much do what they want to do, however, and whenever they feel like it. That’s probably true to a point and Trump has certainly made it clear that he will remain off of his tether for the duration.

The citizenry depends on those we send to Washington to keep the president, and each other, accountable for his or her actions. Unfortunately, to do so might also mean political and professional suicide. Crossing someone in your own party, particularly the party leader such as the president, could cost you any future support from within, regardless of your public popularity.

If Senator John Q. Public wants to be re-elected next term, he’s going to have to keep his head down, support his party leadership, and vote like they, and his contributors, tell him to vote. That’s how politics is done and if you think otherwise, once again, that’s a bit naïve.

In a way, we all figure it will work itself out and our democratic system of checks and balances will keep things moving in the right direction, but I’m not sure that’s wise. To be clear, nothing that is going on right now is new, not by any stretch of the imagination. But what has always kept the balance of power were people willing to stand up to the status quo and hold our politicians accountable.

It is pretty disappointing to accept that the average American has absolutely no interest in what’s going on and feels so out of control. But even if you don’t have a newspaper column, you can write to Congress and your party representatives.

Whatever your party affiliation or your feelings toward the Trump administration, the only way to make a difference is to get involved and that starts by speaking your mind. The only way to keep our elected officials in check is to constantly remind them that we are their employers, and they’re obligations are to us.

 

Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. More online at gerydeer.com.