I found it refreshing to watch James Comey’s hearing. I’m addicted to political news and it was a wonderful departure from the recent coverage of activity in D.C.. In a disturbingly partisan environment, Comey stood out as a unique figure because he appears to actually have integrity. I fully appreciated his character as I listened to his testimony. And then after a couple hours of listening to Comey answer questions honestly, graciously, and intelligently, I felt sad. I found myself thinking about how “presidential” Comey seemed; how I would trust my life and the life of my loved ones in his hands; how I would trust the fate of my country in his hands; how I wished that I lived in a country where it was possible to have a leader like that . . . then I realized I do live in a country where it’s supposed to be possible to elect a president who has integrity.
Donald Trump has spent so much time on my brain since he was elected last fall, and has done such a remarkable amount of damage with his reckless behavior, that it seems like he’s been in charge of the United States forever. I thought about how this crazy American soap opera starring Trump continues on and I can’t turn it off. I can’t change the channel and I can’t stop watching, because, I guess I care too much about the outcome. I thought about how other people seem to be enjoying this drama – the ones who are unable or unwilling to think about how today’s script impacts tomorrow’s story – and then I realized that President Trump has been writing my country’s perverted history for less than six months.
I think I might be weird for wanting to write a better story for my country and for valuing things like character development and integrity. I feel that if it was the norm among my fellow citizens to desire that our leader possess integrity, there is absolutely no way Trump could have become President of the United States. I find myself longing for November 3, 2020 when I can once again cast my vote for the candidate with enough character and intelligence to write more than a trashy novel for his or her supporters to devour. Despite the wealth of information Comey provided, and the fact that Bob Mueller is leading the investigation into Russian interference with our election process, I feel it’s wise for me to realistically focus on the next election for a change in leadership, instead of fantasizing about impeachment in the near future.
Thanks to the implementation of Donald Trump’s Grimm’s fairytale version of how life should be for Americans, I’ve lost faith that my government can be effective. I feel that, at best, it can be a form of entertainment – as entertaining as watching the Hatfields and McCoys fire at each other, simply because they’re standing on opposite sides and make for good targets. While Senators and Representatives are battling over partisan politics, that wily President keeps slipping through the system of checks and balances (as, I imagine, The Benny Hill Show theme song plays in the background); his team keeps their fiction writing skills sharp as they churn out alternative facts to explain his foibles; Trump’s loyal followers are dressed like baby robins swallowing and regurgitating the falsehoods they’re being fed; Republican politicians comically defend Trump’s clown-like behavior because he’s “inexperienced” – and they’re speaking to the chorus of constituents they hope will re-elect them.
Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, has been very defensive of the President’s dramatic actions and it makes me laugh when I hear him say that Trump is “new to government.” I stop laughing when I remind myself that he’s probably just pandering to his political base, as so many politicians seem programmed to do. Even though I’m not Republican, I used to think of Ryan as one of the “good guys” in America’s story because I thought he also demonstrated that he had integrity. I might have been so blinded by my belief in happy endings back in the good old days (circa 2016) that I couldn’t clearly see what he was all about. Or maybe Ryan has recently been so blinded by party loyalty that he can’t see the destructive plot that Trump is unfolding with his unwitting assistance. Maybe Ryan sees it, but cares more about his own political agenda than seeing to it that our nation ends this destructive chapter and starts making progress. I also used to think that John McCain was a Republican Senator with integrity. But after watching his performance at Comey’s hearing as some kind of unexpected villain, I can only feel afraid of McCain – and for him. I no longer know who I can count on in my country. I don’t even know who to blame for this seeming lack of character development that I’ve been witnessing. The people in the executive and legislative branches that I used to hang my hopes on have left me feeling uninspired these past several months. I have very little confidence that the judicial branch I used to trust will do its job when investigations involving Team Trump have been completed, because this is America Now – Donald Trump’s America (cue the music …).
Over the next 3 ½ years, when my President and my government make me feel sad, and his supporters and ambitious politicians continue reading to me from their script that Donald Trump is just “new to government” and to give him a chance to do his job, I plan to replay all 2 ½ hours of Comey’s hearing so that I don’t forget, in this country, what integrity looks like.
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© 2017 by Julie Ryan. All rights reserved
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