power (n): a force sufficient to act on an object to create an effect or movement
Power may be a physic principle, such as fossil fuels powering an engine, or solar energy heating water, or wind moving a sail boat. Power may be a social principle such as governance, criminal justice, taxation, or commanding military units.
Use of such powers can be beneficial, either in the short run (driving to work, taking a hot shower, spending a pleasant afternoon around the bay, caring for citizens, protecting one’s country against those who wish to use their power aggressively) or long run (conserving natural resources, living healthy lives, protecting society against those who might abuse their powers).
Abuse of power may have short term benefits, usually of one individual or group, but with destructive results, in the short term or long term, for others. Abuse of power usually destroys something, leads to chaos, etc. Abuse of power implies possible legal and/or moral violations. The legal issues can be argued by those knowledgable and in control of laws. Moral issues may be up to an individual’s conscience, or a group’s norms and beliefs.
Representative M, Senators C & M:
The House Judiciary Committee had announced it’s drafts of articles of impeachment against President Trump. One involves abuse of power. While this is specific to his power authorized in the Constitution, I wish to address a larger issue, which I have observed over the past 30 years of seeing Mr. Trump in the news. He has been abusing his powers most of his adult life. I am not surprised that he has taken advantage of powers that his presidency has offered to him.
First we must identify areas in which someone may have power in our society and culture. In our capitalist economic model, wealth is a form of power. Also, social status, fame, and notoriety are power. And, in male-female relationships, being male is power (still).
Regarding wealth, President Trump’s grandfather and mother lived the American Dream of immigrating to the USA and amassing a fortune in real estate deals. As a young man, trump got his start by borrowing somewhere between $1 and $60 million from his father (reports vary). He has grown this wealth to billions, enough to be listed in the Forbes 400 list of wealthiest people in the world.
This is not necessarily an abuse of his power of wealth. Assistance from family, whether granting land for a farm and home, tuition for education, or to start up a company is admirable. But for folks living pay-check to paycheck, such transfer of wealth is merely a dream.
Businessman Trump grew his wealth by building high-end hotels, resorts, golf courses, and casinos. He built his wealth by catering to others with wealth. This is not an abuse of power, but I might judge it as a poor use of wealth for society in long run.
However, Trump did use two scheme to increase his wealth by defrauding creditors and constructions companies. Between 1991 and 2006, his hotels and casinos declared bankruptcy six times. The result of this is that creditors were denied a return on their investment in his business dealings. One episode of poor debt management I might accept and forgive. Six looks like a scheme to borrow, build, mismanage, then evade responsibility. That is an abuse of his power of wealth.
Another scheme was how he would hire a local contractor for a project, have the work done, then claim that the contractor had performed shoddy work. He would claim that this was breach of contract and refuse to pay for the work done (though questionable that the had the work redone). If the contractor protested, he would “offer” pennies on the dollar, hand the issue off to his legal team (better financed that any local contractor could afford to fight in court), and threaten the contractor with a poor publicity about his work, such that the contractor was left with the loss in order to continue working in the area. This is an abuse of his power of wealth.
As to social status, President Trump appears to have had a chip on his shoulder as he has never been accepted into the New York Blue-Blood elite. By no fault of his own, he was not born an Astor, Melon, Carnigie, or Vanderbelt… not even a Forbes, or any other high status family. However, he has been striving for notoriety throughout his life. From brash casinos and resorts, to reality-TV shows and beauty pageants to hosting foreign dignitaries at his resorts and hotels he is constantly appearing to want to see himself on TV and hear news personalities report what he is up to.
But, his fawning over some famous person one day can turn into furry the next, when he does not get his way. While some might argue that the function of social status is for those who have it to use it for the good and stability of society (not to mention maintaining their position), businessman and President Trump has used social power mostly to divide and disrupt social order. Some might argue that this is his “draining the swam” agitation, which will ultimately rid government of the career politicians. I argue that such disruption solidifies his social power, drives away honorable political leaders, makes us look foolish in the world, and diminishes our ability to take the high-moral ground in national and international affairs. This is an abuse of social power.
As to relationship power, I shall only mention that husband Trump has cheated numerous times on whichever of his three wives, discarding one for another, and letting the mouse play while the cat was away. Do I need to quote what sexual advances he boasted he could get away with because he was a celebrity? This is an abuse of relationship power.
With these illustrations, I argue that President Trump is used to abusing power. I am not surprised that he would use his elected office power to pressure another nation’s newly elected leader for his own political gain. It is his character. It is his track record. To him, such actions must be normal and morally correct.
The questions for you to contemplate, is whether President Trump’s actions are a violation of the Constitution. Personally, I would prefer that we as voters could elect someone else to lead us next year. But, dare we put up with another year of such abuses of power?