Offering daily news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Stand up and speak out: America’s values need defending in this time of crisis

Six months ago, there were so many questions that needed answers:

  • Would anyone heed the U.S. intelligence community’s early warnings in 2016 that Russia had interfered with the U.S. Presidential elections?
  • Would anyone investigate how and why Russian surrogates had perpetrated cyber attacks on American institutions and individuals?
  • Would anyone demand thorough background investigations of the President-elect’s White House senior national security appointments – especially those not subject to Senate confirmation – before issuing top secret codeword clearances to these individuals?
  • Would anyone have the stamina to demand the President-elect and his family fully disclose their financial stakes in a far-flung, global real estate corporation, including all financial investors tied to foreign governments or foreign interests?
  • Would any of us have the endurance to keep up the pressure on our elected officials to protect our rights under the rule of law?

Six months later, here’s the line-up of investigations underway as of May 13th in various Congressional committees and at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

And six months later, we have learned how to stand up and speak out against unlawful Presidential executive orders, a deeply conservative Supreme Court nominee whose judicial philosophy is corporatizing American politics, proposed elimination of the Patient Protection Act, catastrophic budget cuts to agencies that protect people and the environment, and a Presidential penchant for making personal attacks against current and former federal civil servants – with late-night tweets his preferred delivery method.

What will the next six months reveal?

We must now demand follow-through from the Congressional committees. Congressional committees are the only ones with the power to hold public hearings. We, the people, not only have a right to know.

We have a need-to-know. We are the voters and no matter what, we need to know that our nation’s leaders are not putting our right to self-government at risk.

Congress must keep investigating and hold public hearings to the maximum extent feasible. Some of the committee chairs and vice chairs are persistent despite obstructions by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell – both of whom are competing for the role of the cowardly lion in the twenty-first century’s version of the Wizard of Oz. It’s time for Ryan and McConnell to do their jobs now. Or step aside for people who will.

The new special prosecutor leading the FBI investigations will do his work – but just like water finds its own path, investigations will take their own course. Some investigations will lose steam. Trails of evidence will go cold.

The FBI’s investigations will be behind-closed-doors efforts; it will be easy for those of us on the outside to lose track of the situation.

That’s why we need congressional committees doing their work in public. When both the legislative and executive branches are working in parallel, it helps us – the voters – have confidence that one way or another, someone will discover the facts and reveal the results of the investigations.

A final word about national and international security, alliances, coalitions, networks, friendships, and relationships.

The next six months will strain all bonds. They will strain our nation’s deepest, oldest relationships with other nations as well as more recent ties forged after the end of the Cold War. We’re all going to be riding the waves of an administration that has no moral compass, one that lurches from moment to moment in pursuit of personal gratification and petty power plays.

So we must reassure our own allies, friends, and professional colleagues that we’re standing strong even as Donald Trump goes rogue.

I am standing up for our rights as a free people to maintain alliances, coalitions, networks, friendships, and professional relationships with every nation and every person who share our traditions, cultures, and common interests in a more equal, just, and free world.

I am standing up for the rights of a free press, our only protection against those in power who abuse power and distort information to serve their own interests.

I am standing up for the rights of people everywhere to fight for clean air, clean water, clean food; access to housing and educational opportunities; the dignity of work in workplaces where they earn a good wage to feed their families, pay for healthcare, save for retirement, and take vacations with family and friends.

I am standing up for the rights of people who are the most vulnerable, who have no voice to influence the people in power, and whose lives and liberties depend wholly on those of us who will fight to protect the social contract because “there but for the grace of God go you or I.”

I am standing up for the rights of students to enjoy study-abroad student exchanges so that they will make friends with people who speak other languages, know other cultures, have different histories, and want to expand freedoms and rights for all people.

I am standing up for the rights of immigrants to choose a new home and forge a new life for themselves and their families. As a fourth-generation Irish immigrant, I still believe that nations of immigrants are nations that learn how to adapt to change and learn how to solve big challenges.

I’m standing up for the rights of the two million Americans who work in federal civilian agencies and serve in the armed forces.

They are the people who make it possible for us to be a self-governed nation where institutions serve the people, not the regime in power.

I am standing up for a future where the President of the United States upholds our nation’s commitments to our own people and to our allies and friends, and where the President accepts the responsibility of serving every American.

And I am standing up for a future where the members of the United States Congress renew their devotion to the American Republic and honor their singular duty to protect the rule of law which governs our land.

To every reader who has made a commitment to be part of the resistance: Thank you and keep up the good work. Stand strong. We’re all in this together.