The most recent Weekly Presidential Candidate Moment lets the candidates show us through tweets, quotes and articles how they feel about the need for transparency and accountability in our government.
Headlines like this one from the Washington Post, “President Trump has made 13,435 false or misleading claims …” or CREW’s headline that Kellyanne “Conway violated the 1 Hatch Act 50+ times this year on Twitter alone,” have been common press headlines over the past three years.
It is often an uneasy relationship between a president and the organizations that demand transparency and accountability from them and their administrations. The idea that sources from within a work group will feed information to the press, or file a complaint through whistleblower protections is uncomfortable for all administrations. It is supposed to be a tense relationship. As Barack Obama said to the press corps in 2017, “We are accountable to the people who send us here. You’re not supposed to be sycophants. You’re supposed to be skeptics.”
Lies. Violations. We know they matter, and we are familiar with the names of many of the mainstream news organizations that collect this information and report on it. But governmental accountability goes much deeper than the work reported on by journalists.
We are watching what happens when duplicitous acts cross the threshold towards treason, as the House Intelligence Committee investigates for impeachment proceedings in the Executive Branch. We’ve heard about the lawsuits that have worked through the courts overturning various executive orders. Some of these lawsuits have been brought by The House, and some have been brought against the administration by outside organizations. This is our system of checks and balances.
Were it not for journalists and ethics organizations, for laws that protect whistleblowers and that set standards for accountability, government would not have enough checks to reign in abuses of power. Checks and balances are not esoteric, they are created through the daily work done by those in government and by a host of non-governmental agencies, started by citizens for the express purpose of demanding transparency and accountability from a government that is of, by, and for the people.
In a series of tweets and links to articles, the most recent Weekly Presidential Candidate Moment also contains links to a number of organizations dedicated to providing checks on our government, like CREW, mentioned above, which stands for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, and POGO , the Project on Government Oversight, which provides help specifically to whistleblowers.
Below are highlights from this week’s Twitter Moment, published by a team at #GeeksResist for the express purpose of helping us all learn about the Democratic presidential candidates’ positions.
Joe Biden has announced a constitutional amendment is necessary to entirely eliminate private dollars from US federal elections and to create a brighter boundary between DOJ and the West Wing to block interference in DOJ decisions. Changing the Constitution would require a Constitutional Convention, a dream that the powerful Koch empire continues to work toward, so there might be a need for a future exploration of candidates’ positions on this potentially precarious vision.
Calling Trump a “walking conflict of interest,” and “Actually more like 2,310 conflicts of interest,” Elizabeth Warren has referred to transparency as a “vibrant corruption disinfectant.” She has made corruption a center of her campaign calling for conflict of interest laws to be required of the President and Vice-President, and for the release of tax records to be mandatory. She has plans from banning lobbyists to become White House Cabinet secretaries or working for the federal government. Her plan is titled the Anti-Corruption and Public Integrity Act and can be found on her website.
Sanders sees a drift toward authoritarianism, but has not weighed in on ways to increase transparency in the White House.
Senator Klobuchar has a comprehensive plan for accountability that she is calling Ethics in Democracy. It lists areas she will focus on if elected as well as listing evidence of work she has done in her home state and will in the Senate to bolster accountability and ethical standards in government.
John Delany has taken the innovative approach of offering to debate Congress quarterly, if elected, as a way to have honest, transparent conversation about the issues facing America.
By reading through the tweets and following the links, you will better know where each of the Democratic presidential candidates stand on this important topic of governmental accountability. You’ll get a sense about who has thought deeply about it and are ready to enact changes, or who’s likely to continue using the system as it stands, broken or not.
The organizations who work daily to keep our government accountable are largely non- profit and would love to have your support. Consider following their links. As a bonus, you’ll also find a tweet which lists a few Netflix shows you can watch that are about several of the many faces of corruption.
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