Status Report: America on the Edge

Editorial

Status Report: America on the Edge

I have always worked hard to try and measure the inner character of the politicians I vote for before election day.  At one time or another, I have voted for a Democrat, a Republican, an Independent, a man, a woman, black and white. I use three simple tests of character. The first test is the integrity to abide by his or her oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. The second test is the capability to balance the needs of their local constituency with the betterment of the nation as a whole.  The third and final test of character is whether their actions reflect their words.

I am now old enough to have lived through the Administrations of eight Presidents of the United States— Democrats and Republicans.  Many of the elections were hotly contested where the two parties engaged in a battle of honor of sorts because they truly believed that their candidate was the best to lead the country.  After the election was over, people set aside their pre-election squabbles for the most part, and gave their new president the chance to lead.  But with the last election all of that changed.

During the election, the far left of the Democratic Party revolted after their candidate was caught transmitting classified information on her own private server.  No matter what your political leaning, the candidate for president knowingly placed herself above the law by disregarding the same rules that apply to everyone else. The evidence shows that it was not a mistake.  In an act of political cowardice, the former Director of the FBI took the path of least resistance by convoluting the law and then publicly declaring that Mrs. Clinton really did not intend to do what she did.  His grand standing at the expense of the Office of the President and the Constitution is one of the great failures of American leadership in modern times.

But Comey’s leadership failures did not begin or end there.  Rather, they started long before the current debacle we are seeing in Washington today.  It was Comey who personally shut down an investigation of Constitutional violations so shocking that, if they were publicly known, would shake the faith of the American people in the entire system.  Comey, working with Senate Intelligence and Judiciary Committees, engaged in the biggest cover-up in American history.  Comey was presented with irrefutable proof of intelligence operations being conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA) against individual Americans—all in violation of the Patriot Act.  As an Obama administration appointee, Comey forsook his Constitutional duty to remain independent.  He took the path of least resistance and worked to cover-up the illegal actions of senior intelligence officials in the Obama Administration.  The unlawful domestic intelligence collection operation went far beyond the NSA to include the FBI itself, the Army and the Navy, the Department of Justice, and others.

The leadership of the Senate Intelligence and Judiciary Committees on the Hill worked closely with Comey to orchestrate the cover-up.  The possible exposure of the government’s actions was of such great concern to the Obama Administration that it worked to “turn” four Federal Judges to go along with the cover-up.  By allowing the Executive Branch to unlawfully hide behind classification to avoid public exposure, the judges violated their oaths to protect and defend the Constitution, and blew a huge hole below the waterline of the ship of justice in America.

Unfortunately for all of us, after the presidential election, the political insults and violence born of disrespect for someone else’s point of view didn’t subside—instead it has now grown to the point where the House Whip can be shot down in a stadium practicing for a baseball game.  Political violence is now common-place.  So, the question for us today is, who’s responsible for political violence and how can we stop it?

First and foremost, we need to start enforcing the law equally.  We are a nation of law in a country where everyone is supposed to be treated equally.  Take for example, the statement of a senior campaign adviser during the election who worked to incite political violence, “It doesn’t matter what the friggin’[sic] legal and ethics people say, we need to win this [expletive deleted].” Instead of being prosecuted by the Justice Department these same people are suing the people who exposed them.

Second, politicians on the far left and right are largely responsible for the situation that now beleaguers us all.  By using disparaging language, threatening others and encouraging their followers to engage in violence, they assume responsibility for the results.  Disrespect begets disrespect.

Third, everyone must grow up and act like adults—liberals and conservatives alike. It’s easy to talk over others to get your own way.  It’s a lot harder to listen and learn.  It’s also everyone’s responsibility to pursue the truth.  A democracy is all about compromise in the interests of everyone—not domination to benefit the few.  Studying the issues and making coherent arguments based on real facts is what leads to good solutions—not disrespect for one another.

Before assuming his current position as the Executive Director of the Institute for Complexity Management, John Hnatio spent several years working on Capitol Hill for the Senate.