By: Abdalrahman Abou-Sar, Columnist
Views expressed in opinion columns are the author’s own
While President Donald Trump’s days in the White House came to an end, I can imagine he spent his time planning to dole out pardons to political allies and white collar criminals, leaving daily responsibilities of the office to Vice President Mike Pence.
It is possible his pardons should prove more controversial than the last, a stunning display of depravity considering the last one included the Blackwater guards, who slaughtered 17 Iraqi civilians. Trump’s flagrant use of the pardon has illustrated to most sensible people the need for a constitutional limit on the power.
There is some evidence to suggest the officials in the Trump administration are selling pardons to the highest bidder. Like with all things Trumpian, it’s clear to me he takes an existing institutional rot and doesn’t pretend to care about the values they claim to uphold. This is one of the most blatant disregards for the rule of law this country has ever seen, but blatancy can’t compare to the routine perniciousness of our institutions. In my opinion, all Trump is doing is dropping the veil, the rule of law in this country is horrendously shallow, Trump just doesn’t bother paying lip service.
There may as well be two legal systems for the rich and poor respectively. Whether it be the quality of legal representation, bail, or the decision to prosecute, the law is ubiquitously slanted in favor of the rich, not by flaws of the system, but by its design. I feel the law sociopathically hounds the poor as its purpose, evident when one looks at patterns of crime and their response. White collar crime is on the rise, yet prosecutions for such crimes have been declining.
These are irreconcilable trends, given the fact that white collar crime is empirically more detrimental to society and blue collar crime is a reaction to existing poverty, and in my opinion it speaks to one conclusion: the rule of law is functionally non-existent, and our society is indifferent to the most heinous of crimes so long as it is orderly, but disorderly crime, such as robbery and drug dealing, need to be stamped out, despite their being less harmful. It was white collar crime that caused the nationwide opioid epidemic that has killed 450 thousand Americans thus far; It was white collar crime that plunged the country into the worst recession since 1929 leading to poverty, suicide, and civil unrest, and it is white collar crime that robs $300 billion annually from the U.S. economy in the form of wage theft, fraud, and other crimes impacting Americans daily.
I think the intrinsic inequality and favoritism in our justice system is a natural precursor to Trump’s pardons, however masturbatory they may be. Given our institutions treat a drug dealer as a bigger menace than the pharmaceutical companies whose product he sells, why would the wealthy, Trump included, think anything of the law?