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John Young: America is not an Orange Julius; is it?


It turns out our ambitions were quite similar, Donald Trump’s and mine.

We were both interested in acquiring a franchise – a business opportunity.

I always had an affection for Orange Julius and its one-trick-pony stands at malls. I told my betrothed that when we had the scratch, the itch I’d pursue was an OJ franchise. We could have one stand and live out our days drinking in the proceeds. All it would take is some up-front money and some oranges.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the up-front, not the kind Mr. Dreamsicle Hair does. So I sat back. Meanwhile, Trump set out to buy The Franchise.

Trump’s first comments as president-elect sound exactly like this. The government-by-the-people thing is just, in Molly Ivins’ words, another “bidness” opportunity.

He will not shed his role as business mogul while he runs the people’s business. He says he will meet with business partners in the Oval Office.

He told the New York Times: “The president can’t have a conflict of interest” regarding business ties carried on while in office.

“In theory,” he told the Times, “I could run my business perfectly and then run the country perfectly.”

Just like an Orange Julius stand.

Voters can be excused for being confused by what Trump just said. After all, he and all those suckled on the Fox News loop foghorned righteous umbrage about potential conflicts attached to the Clinton Foundation.

As Trump supporters crowed till hoarse, ethical issues flare when one with government ties wrangles monetary deals. In the Clinton Foundation’s case, it was charitable favors to combat environmental devastation, starvation and oppression.

However, making a buck for Trump Inc.? That’s just bidness.

“Get over it,” say Trump supporters. “You lost. Let him get on with running the country.”

But, you see, our government isn’t something bartered, like one would acquire a casino or golf resort.

Our government is ours, not Donald Trump’s. So let the testing of his theories begin.

Last week Elizabeth Warren penned a letter with Congressman Elijah Cummings seeking a General Accountability Office investigation into “conflicts of interest related to business holdings of Mr. Trump and his family,” as well as a probe whether the president-elect’s communications with foreign leaders violated security protocols by failing to use secured lines.

I hear Trump supporters saying. “Sour grapes, losers.”

Actually, “loser” is not Warren’s title. It’s U.S. senator. The role of Congress, as with the courts, is to serve as a check on the executive branch. And so she’s doing the job she was elected to perform.

At this point, someone else needs to be reminded of his or her job. That would be anyone who claims the title of citizen.

Some Americans have the impression that Election Day is the end-all of politics or of policy discussions. The victorious. The vanquished. Let’s get on with the bloodletting.

That attitude not only is incorrect but wrong, so wrong as to spit on the document Americans say they revere.

The Constitution isn’t a framework for one person to have his way with us. It is for us to require that person to comport himself in our best interests.

The only business Trump should do in the Oval Office is our business. We should demand it from Day One. We should expect a free press to report on every conflict and for commentators to explain the ramifications.

We should expect Congress to probe every conflict.

We should expect the courts to stand up to the man who would be king.

Oh, and we should expect of ourselves that we be well-informed, discerning, attentive. Unless we do, we have lost the franchise.

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. He can be reached by email at jyoungcolumn@gmail.com.


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