Last January, former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and eight other state officials were charged with their alleged roles in the Flint water crisis, which killed at least 12 people and felled 80 people. Of course, the full population impact of lead poisoning of drinking water resulting from changes in infrastructure implemented by emergency managers to save money cannot yet be fully assessed.
The crimes that the eight have been charged with range from perjury to misconduct in office to involuntary manslaughter. Snyder himself faces two cases of willful neglect, punishable by fines of up to $ 1,000 and a maximum of one year in prison for each case.
These penalties for the harm to human life that Snyder carelessly monitored are hardly harsh; But after four years of watching Trump and his administration evade accountability for a variety of corrupt and arguably criminal behaviors, it is refreshing, to say the least, to see leaders held accountable for implementing policies that harm life contrary to their constituents, whether through negligence or utter malice.
Too often, in fact, our government officials “deliberately” neglect the needs and concerns of their constituents.
Just look at the latest American bailout plan that no Republicans in Congress supported. Senators such as Mitch McConnell and Mitt Romney, despite all the real-world human portrayal, continued to claim that the relief was unnecessary because Americans were not really desperate and in dire need. Never mind that the bill provides hundreds of billions of dollars to fund a coordinated COVID-19 response, including the fastest possible and full distribution of the vaccine.
The Republicans’ obstruction to aid packages stemming from the HEROES bill passed by House Democrats last May, which McConnell refused to put to the Senate vote, is undoubtedly a deliberate neglect of the well-being of the American people.
Indeed, such willful neglect is built into the defining ideology dear to Republicans’ hearts, which centers the belief not only in a small government but also that it is simply not the role of government to use its resources , including the tax dollars it collects from all of us to meet people’s needs.
It would be great if, just like in Snyder’s case, government officials could be held criminally accountable more often for abusing their positions and running the government as a criminal enterprise, even when making political decisions that neglect politics or are directly hostile to them Lives of their constituents.
Take Trump’s failure to respond, his utter negligence towards the COVID-19 pandemic. A recent study by the Brookings Institute highlighted the cost to human life resulting from its neglect and found:
The United States wasted both money and lives in its response to the coronavirus pandemic, and with a more effective health strategy it could have avoided nearly 400,000 deaths and cut federal spending by hundreds of billions of dollars while continuing to support those who needed it .
When Jason Easley assessed this situation and wrote for PoliticusUsa,
Hundreds of thousands of Americans died because Donald Trump refused to put public health before his re-election campaign. Hundreds of thousands of families have lost loved ones because Republicans allowed Donald Trump not to put public health first.
A political party that deliberately refuses to act at the federal level during a pandemic does not deserve ever to be in power again.
And it would also be nice if these people were not only excluded from political office, but were also made criminally responsible.
It is precisely this deliberate neglect that defines their government as a criminal enterprise.
After Congress passed the American Rescue Plan Act and President Joe Biden is on the verge of unveiling a $ 3 trillion infrastructure package, we need to see Biden and the Democrats decriminalize the government itself, which means they are Rule the Government In order to serve the people and respond to their needs, resources are directed with this priority.
This type of leadership is in direct contrast to typical Republican practices, who run the government in ways that are hostile to and neglect the people at their expense.
Republicans have already expressed their opposition to Biden’s as-yet-fully uncovered infrastructure plan, which initial reports suggest will improve aging infrastructure such as roads, bridges, rails and cyber equipment. a revision of the tax code that benefits employees; a boost for caregivers; improved access to health care; and investing in clean energy.
Yet America is crumbling, waiting for the infrastructure bills and health plans Republicans have been promising for years.
We just have to look to the recent power grid failure in Texas, which is causing unnecessary suffering and death from willful neglect of what is sometimes called “deregulation”.
Consider the fate of regulation and control El Paso and the rest of Texas during this crisis.
El Paso didn’t suffer like the rest of Texas because they relied on an electrical grid that crossed state lines and connected to fourteen other states. It is subject to federal regulations. When the adverse weather hit El Paso, the city could rely on the other states for energy.
El Paso learned its lesson after a 2011 storm knocked off its grid. They dedicated the resources to wintering to serve the people. The rest of Texas, which purposely kept its nets within state lines to avoid regulation, didn’t. Avoiding regulations, they did not invest in wintering and could also make energy scarce, so companies could demand more and benefit from people.
These companies were more interested in making money than serving the needs of the people, and the Texas Republicans supported and encouraged this willful neglect by not regulating their behavior.
This death and suffering is a direct result of willful neglect by the Texas government, just as the death and suffering in Flint is due to Snyder’s neglect.
Better to reverse how Biden characterizes his agenda of running a government to meet the needs of Americans is, in fact, an attempt to decriminalize the government itself.
Tim Libretti is a professor of American literature and culture at a state university in Chicago. A longtime progressive voice, he has published many academic and journalistic articles on culture, class, race, gender, and politics, for which he has received awards from the Working Class Studies Association, the International Labor Communications Association, and the National Federation of Press Women and the Illinois Woman’s Press Association.