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A few years ago, my brother went for an afternoon pick-me-up at the Protein Bar near City Hall. As he was ordering, Rahm Emanuel came in and stood behind him. My brother finished his order and stepped aside. The mayor asked for the exact same protein drink. A moment passed, Rahm talking on the phone glued to the side of his head. The clerk handed Rahm a beverage.
”Hey,” my brother objected as Rahm vanished. “That was my drink. I was here first.”
The clerk shrugged,
”He’s the mayor,” he said.
That is power in a nutshell. You could study every Protein Bar employee manual and not find one word suggesting a policy to nudge bullyboy local officials to the front of the line. They don’t have to spell it out. It’s understood.
I offer this story because it meshes with the impeachment hearings going on now in Washington. They could seem a bewildering spectacle unless you understand them as a tug-of-war between two utterly opposite views of our society.
Do we live by rules-based egalitarianism? A nation of laws, customs and procedures? “Hey, I was here first.”
Or by the exercise of raw power by those who hold it, aided by their eager enablers? “He’s the mayor.”
The answer is: both, in conflict. Ideally in balance, though power always has the advantage, because it’s usually in your immediate self-interest to bow. Those who play along get a bigger slice of pie. The resisters often get nothing. So if you need to drop the values you’ve clung to your entire life in order to jam your hands in the goodie bag some bigwig is shaking in your direction, well, so be it. Goodbye values!
Let’s look at the impeachment charges laid out in detail by a string of reliable witnesses:
In July, President Donald Trump held up $392 million in military aid to Ukraine trying to blackmail its president into announcing publicly that he is investigating Joe Biden and his son. This contradicted the strategic interest of the United States, but was in Trump’s personal interest: to win re-election in 2020.
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