Wednesday, July 06, 2016

A Matter of Trust

Lewis: People want leadership.  And in the absence of genuine leadership, they will listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone.  They want leadership, Mr. President.  They’re so thirsty for it, they’ll crawl through the desert toward a mirage; and when they discover there’s no water, they’ll drink the sand.
Sheperd: People don’t drink the sand because they’re thirsty, Lewis. They drink it because they don’t know the difference. – “The American President”

This scene from the movie, “The American President”, pits the US president and his private life against his closest advisers in the heat of a re-election campaign.  The widower president does not want to publicly discuss his relationship with his new girlfriend, but his political opponents are trying to get as much traction out of the “scandal” as they possibly can.

Aside from the nature of the fictional “scandal” faced by a fictional president, the essence of Lewis’ concern centers on the perceived lack of trust on the part of the voters and their thirst for “genuine leadership”.  During an election year, and maybe even more so in this particular election year, trust is always the foundational issue.  Every other issue is subordinate to our fundamental need to trust those whom we elect to office.  Without that confidence, a republic can quickly descend into chaos when the general public will be inclined to take matters into their own hands.  “Every man for himself” becomes the mantra of a nation unraveling.

This lack of confidence in our government institutions and the nation’s laws is even more acute following the FBI’s decision not to recommend indictment against former Secretary of State / current Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.  As the FBI director laid out the findings of a year-long investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s use of her own private e-mail server while serving as Secretary of State, the nation (including even some Democrats) was incredulous that violations of the law regarding the handling of classified information seemed so clear.  Yet the FBI director stated that “no reasonable prosecutor” would pursue such a matter in court.

Only days prior to Mrs. Clinton’s meeting with FBI investigators, the US Attorney General had a private meeting with former president Bill Clinton; a meeting described as mere coincidence but a meeting the Attorney General admitted later should not have taken place under the circumstances.

These are real issues of trust.  The Attorney General of the United States acted without thinking – by her own admission.  The former Secretary of State showed clear lack of prudent judgment in her “extreme carelessness” and would certainly do things differently if she had them to do over again – again, her own admission – even as she blatantly lied to the public about what was classified before the fact, not only by the nature of the information passed but by the clear markings of some pages – this according to the FBI’s findings.  In each instance, the people are supposed to write it all off and - wait for it – “trust” them to do the right and prudent and ethical thing from this point forward. 

The very fact that they would act with such disregard and with such impunity is a clear indication that they have no regard for the people who have entrusted this nation’s well-being and security to them and no respect whatsoever for the offices they hold or once held.  Yet these (who are only the tip of the political iceberg, mind you) are seeking higher office; and why shouldn’t they?  There are too many voting citizens willing to turn a blind eye to the reality we are faced with in no uncertain terms, and write it all off as a political witch hunt or “vast, right-wing conspiracy”.

I have no longer any hope that this nation can stand much longer because my hope is in the One who said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand”.  The reality of this division, however, is that the “ruling class” is aware of it and is actually exploiting it for their own political, professional, and personal gain. 

We seem none the wiser.  It’s like this big, national cock fight in which the “ruling class” tosses us into a ring with our fellow citizens after having so provoked us to the point that fighting and destroying an opponent is all we think we have left.  And while we are destroying one another, the “ruling class” is making side bets because they will be the only winners. 

Someone will lose, to be sure, but there will be no clear winner in the ring precisely because there is a loser.  The “ruling class” will continue as they always have, regardless of political affiliation, because they seem to know what obviously escapes us: we will “drink the sand” – as we have been for quite some time - because we do not know the difference between what the “ruling class” allows us to have and what we truly need.

So put on your spurs, fellow roosters, and prepare for your turn in the fighting ring.  We can be sure of only one thing: we’re playing according to their script.  Trust that.

No comments: