The acquittal of President Trump should not obscure the fact that the House Democrats did the right thing by pursuing impeachment. They commenced this political process not because he necessarily broke the law—although he may have—but because he so blatantly abused his office to benefit himself.
As a public servant who serves the people, he and all elected officials must be held to a higher standard; the political process of impeachment is important because elected officials who violate their oath, even if they did not commit a crime, cannot continue to honestly serve the people.
With impeachment behind us, we as Democrats should not stop this push for accountability, but we must focus our energies locally and inwardly. While we talk often about how our national political climate of polarization and tribalism has damaged our public institutions, our norms, and our people’s faith in democracy, we need to acknowledge and address that politicians at every level of government are contributing to this.
In spring of 2019, I was the only elected official to speak out against the corruption and fraud union boss John Dougherty has allegedly ushered into Philadelphia politics. Here we are, two years later, awaiting trial and justice for those 116 indictment charges of fraud and Dougherty is arrested again on 19 different charges of conspiracy and extortion.
Two years ago, it was revealed he allegedly was bribing lawmakers. Last week, we learned Dougherty is possibly threatening companies to hire his family members and when those family members are confronted for absences and underperformance, he sends in his henchmen to rough up the company managers.
While there may be legal proceedings, the challenge we have is a political one. And political challenges are overcome when thousands of voices say “enough.”
Dougherty should be using his position to work with Philadelphia’s government to increase working standards and livelihoods of Philadelphia’s working families. Instead, he is reportedly using his position for personal gain and family favors.
The city’s political corruption doesn’t end with John Dougherty. At this very moment, 12 percent of our City Council is under indictment and three former state representatives, the former district attorney, and a congressman are either behind bars or took plea deals. All are Democrats.
How can it not smack of hypocrisy when people see Democratic leaders try to hold the former president accountable for his abuses, but remain mostly mum about those in their own ranks? As Congressman Adam Schiff passionately called for the “moral courage” to impeach, quoting Robert F. Kennedy, we heard a call to action for Democrats nationwide. As RFK said in his so-called “Ripple of Hope” speech in South Africa, we need to “brave the disapproval of [our] fellows, the censure of [our] colleagues, the wrath of [our] society.”
People want fairness in their government. People want consistency. Why should I pay my property taxes or my permit fees or do my required inspection if officials who neglect those same obligations get off scot free?
People will rightly say that all are innocent until proven guilty—that accused politicians should have their day in court and be convicted by a jury of their peers before they face any consequences. While there may be legal proceedings, the challenge we have is a political one. And political challenges are overcome when thousands of voices say “enough.”
With a $31 million school deficit, a failed Covid-19 response, and rising gun violence, the past year has shown us that Philadelphia doesn’t have time to waste. It’s time to rid Philadelphia’s governance of John Dougherty, Bobby Henon, and corruption so we can begin to do the true work of government—improving Philly lives. The impeachment may be over, but our fight to end government corruption is just beginning.
State Rep. Jared Solomon has represented District 202 in Northeast Philadelphia since 2017.