There is an amusing story about Abraham Lincoln hitting a man in response to being offered a bribe. Surprised by this, the would-be briber asked Lincoln why he hit him rather than just refusing his offer. Lincoln’s answer was that the amount of the bribe had almost reached his acceptance level! Although most probably a fable, this story demonstrates how hard it is for even those leaders who love democracy, like “Honest Abe,” to refuse the temptation of money and gifts.

We associate bribery with autocratic governments and dictatorships, not with democracy. Donald Trump admires and envies the power and control of dictators, such as Putin. Trump sought to attack our democracy, disrupt the government, and establish an autocracy with himself at the helm. His holding of sensitive government documents meant to be securely stored in the U.S. Archives, is outrageous. He claims them as his own.

If, as he claims, he has the right to possess the materials, then why are they hidden in various places, including his bathroom? Trump has vehemently held onto box upon box of highly sensitive, classified documents. In the past, some leaders have accidentally kept classified papers, which they promptly returned to the U.S. Archives, not wanting to have “hot” papers in their possession. Trump, by contrast, desires keeping papers that legally are not his. He lied to the Justice Department, claiming he returned all of the boxes, and he lied to his own attorneys too.

Why would he do this? I shudder at my conclusion … that there are millions of dollars of gain at stake for Trump. He must be licking his chops, knowing the value enemy nations place on obtaining these very sensitive documents, including military and nuclear information.

Is it possible anyone could be this corrupt or uncaring about his homeland? Mindful of the treasonous January 6th insurrection that Trump encouraged, his disdain for our democracy and his level of greed and selfishness makes my conclusion not only possible, but probable. How can the lure of the almighty dollar not be Trump’s motivation to fiercely hold onto documents?

As troubling as this is, I am also appalled by other recent occurrences in our nation. I feel betrayed by the greed so many of our leaders have displayed, especially on our Supreme Court. I’m deeply disturbed by the “friendship” between Justice Thomas and billionaire Harlan Crow. Revelations about other justices, like Samuel Alito, having troubling “friendships” and benefitting from “gifts” have also come to light. It should surprise no one that the Republican-appointed members of the court recently refused to adopt a code of ethics, even though all justices must swear to abide by the nonpartisan oaths of office and make rulings based on the Constitution. That some of our justices are willing to dishonor themselves by taking obscene bribes is outrageous. How can we respect or honor our Supreme Court with this level of corruption?

The seductive power of money is everywhere. For example, the sports world projects the image of being a realm of fairness and sportsmanship, and its players as positive influences and role models for our young people. Sadly, some of our sports heroes have fallen prey to the temptation of the almighty dollar. I was upset to read that the prominent PGA will join forces with the Saudi Arabian LIV golf league in what will be a very lucrative endeavor for those involved. Serious situation aside, the phrase “golf ‘green’” takes on new meaning. Has the PGA disregarded the horrendous 9/11 bombings, for which the Saudis are deemed responsible? Did the PGA forgive and forget the Saudi’s murderous butchering of our Washington Post journalist, Jamal Khashoggi? Saudi Arabia has one of the most demonic human rights records of any nation in the world. Is this the ally we want to participate with … in any activity?

Tolerating the lowest common denominator for morality, it’s no wonder that hate and violence are increasing. Yet I choose to focus on ours being a nation of fairness and justice, and most polls show that 65% of us support our laws and our Constitution, and are proud of our democracy.

When voting, let us choose leaders with integrity, honor, civility, and truthfulness. Let us voice our disdain for greed, and while we’re at it, let’s voice disdain against racism and hate.

The pursuit of the almighty dollar should never “trump” morality.

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