Our news feeds have been overwhelmed in recent weeks with the impeachment hearings of American President Donald Trump.
Trump is charged with violating American laws, primarily the U.S. constitution.
With regard to many of the accusations, Trump supporters point out that he’s not doing anything recent Democrat and Republican presidents haven’t also done.
For the most part, they’re correct.
The United States constitution is one of the most revered human rights documents in the world. Its writers are praised as visionaries, yet the country supposedly governed by this constitution has seen its principles horribly violated.
Past presidents bent the rules, the legislatures turned a blind eye, the media did a poor job reporting and the general public allowed it to happen.
The American constitution stipulates, for example, that only Congress can declare war and bring the nation from a state of peace to a state of war. George Bush, however, invaded Iraq. Barack Obama invaded Libya. These are only two recent examples of the violation of this article of the Constitution.
Conservative American constitutional scholar Bruce Fein outlines 13 articles of impeachment of Trump. It’s not that others haven’t violated the rights of American citizens; it’s simply that Trump’s violations have been the most egregious.
Violations of human rights have happened in other developed countries as well but statistics point to their greatest decline in America.
While life expectancy has increased throughout most of the world in recent decades, life expectancy in the United States has been dropping since 2014. It’s the only wealthy country to experience this phenomenon but it isn’t something that can be blamed on Trump.
Many educational experts are also discussing what they call a “literacy crisis” in America, pointing out that over 30 million American adults can’t function beyond the third grade level.
University tuition rates are among the highest in the world in the U.S, as are student debts, putting a great deal of financial stress on those who are not in the wealthy class. This is a global trend, however, and these costs have been increasing for decades. Again, you can’t blame Trump.
The Ronald Reagan era saw the appearance of private, for-profit prisons in the U.S. Despite declining crime rates, incarceration rates in the United States have continued to soar. Today they have the highest documented incarceration rate in the world and a very disproportional number of visible minorities in prison. Again, this is not a Trump phenomenon.
Recent years have also seen CEO wages balloon while real wages for common workers have declined, with the American minimum wage frozen at $7.25 an hour since 2009. The average CEO is paid 271 times the wage of the average worker in the United States. This too is a global trend. The wage disparity in Canada, for example, is 149 to one. It should also be pointed out that it wasn’t Trump who bailed out the banks in 2009.
Despite the fact that he can’t be blamed for all of the troubles of the world, Trump has inadvertently mobilized the American public and people around the world who believe in the rights of the common citizen. While these issues may be felt most deeply in the United States, it’s dangerous for us to point at America and claim we’re exempt.
In far too many ways the citizens of the world have been asleep since the protests of the 1960s and 1970s.
Thank you, President Trump, for rousing us from our complacency.
Gerry Chidiac is an award-winning high school teacher specializing in languages, genocide studies and work with at-risk students.