The Constitution Is On Fire: A Crisis Not Only For Our Democracy But The Poor And Vulnerable

The following post, written by The Rev. Robert A. Franek, is a part of Politicus Policy Discussion, in which writers draw connections between real lives and public policy.

Following the firing of FBI Director James Comey and Donald Trump’s tweets and television interviews on the matter combined with what his administration has said over the past week related to this action, the country has entered an unprecedented constitutional crisis.

The rule of law that is foundational and essential to our democracy is being challenged in ways never before seen by a man who proves on a daily basis that he knows nothing about and is unfit to hold the office to which he won the electoral college vote, a matter even he still can’t fully believe but nonetheless never stops including in his speeches.

Donald Trump’s continued attacks on our democracy from his assaults on the media and judges to his unconstitutional executive orders and contempt for women and minorities and now possibly including the obstruction of justice cannot be ignored and must be given the necessary attention such atrocious behavior deserves.

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Still the past one hundred plus days of this administration have not only been a constant battering to the fabric of our democracy but a neglect to the needs of the poor and vulnerable as well.

When the attacks of this administration and the blind eye of accountability by the Republicans in Congress are so frequent and strike to the heart of our democracy there is not time or energy for the much needed work of improving the lives of people through public policies that serve the socio-economic well-being of people and the common good of the country.

The inability to address income inequality through raising the minimum wage and assuring equal work receives equal pay continues to keep many trapped in the cycle of poverty and discrimination.

Being occupied with Donald Trump’s tweet storms and flurry of Executive Orders means there isn’t time or opportunity to address comprehensive criminal justice and immigration reforms. For now, it is simply a victory to stop his bigoted travel bans.

Public marches and rallies in defense of existing health care provisions such as coverage for preexisting conditions and no lifetime limits along with taking to the streets to fight for science and environmental health, is taking much needed energy and political will away from eradicating homelessness and hunger. Nevertheless, it is no small thing to fight for the lives of tens of millions of people at risk for losing their health care coverage and therefore their lives. It is sad that the fight must be to keep what is already guaranteed rather than to make the coverage better and more affordable for all.

These issues along with other needed policies for the betterment of society like affordable college tuition for all and job programs to retrain people for a green economy demand the attention of the nation. However, when the fundamentals of a free press and the rule of law are being attacked and the very fabric of our democracy that guarantees every person the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is on line everything from addressing income inequality and comprehensive criminal justice reform to working to end homelessness and make college affordable for all are tragically put on hold.

This constitutional crisis is also a moral one, not only because it goes to the heart and soul of our democracy and the fundamentals of the rule of law and the inherent equality and dignity of all people, but also because this crisis in governing is taking time and resources away from the crises faced by people in their daily lives whether in their homes or workplaces, courts or clinics.

It’s Mother’s Day and I can’t help but think of all the mothers who fear losing access to health care through Planned Parenthood clinics, who are paid too little for the work that they do, who struggle to provide food, clothes, shelter, and medicine for their children, who suffer the trauma of abusive relationships, and who rise up every day fighting to make this world a better place for their children.

Our Happy Mother’s Day wishes this year need to be accompanied with the will and determination to resolve our country’s constitutional crisis that the varied and daily crises of mothers, women, minorities and all the poor and vulnerable may be addressed through substantive public policies that will transform their lives for the better and thus enhance the common good of the country overall.

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