Paying Attention Fuels Our Nation’s Future

We pay attention to act responsibly

Pay attention!

How many times have you heard that admonition? Perhaps it was a parent or a scolding teacher or, simply, someone yelling in your ear regarding your poor driving skills. The urgent request is a demand for you to focus, become aware, and act responsibly. It’s often well deserved, so we straighten up.

111119 Pay Attention

We must pay attention to Washington

We can use the reminder in the weeks and months ahead. This week we’ll be able to witness the first public hearings by the House Intelligence Committee. The Washington Post reports that the lead-off witness will be the U.S. Diplomat to the Ukraine, William B. Taylor, who testified in a close-door session in October. The report tells us:

The vivid account by acting ambassador William B. Taylor Jr. described a “Washington snake pit” of bad actors who were willing to cut off aid to Ukraine as it battled Russian-backed separatists, a situation he described as a “nightmare” scenario.

Other news media has rushed to weigh in to note the significant testimonials and actors involved. For example, CBS reports of testimony transcripts being released by NSC’s official Alexander Vindman and Fiona Hill. Vindman said he found Trump’s Ukraine call “troubling and disturbing.” Hill told lawmakers politicizing Ukraine policy was her “worst nightmare.” Ivanka Trump, too, weighed in with her perception of the whistleblower, saying the identity is not particularly relevant. Recently, Ohio Representative Jim Jordan is to be moved to House Intelligence Committee. The article continues:

President Trump claimed to have scant familiarity with U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, who earlier this week revised his congressional testimony to say that the release of delayed military aid for Ukraine was “likely” dependent on the country announcing investigations that would benefit President Trump politically.

In reference to Sondland, Trump explained:

I hardly know the gentleman.

Trump’s Chief of Staff, Mick Mulvaney, has defied a subpoena to appear before the House Intelligence Committee. Attorney General, William Barr, has declined an opportunity to hold a press conference, requested by Trump, to explain that the President hasn’t broken any laws.

We are inclined to not pay attention

Is it any wonder that, perhaps, our first inclination is to ignore the news? We may prefer to switch to sports, see a movie, read a book, or even turn off all social media. We, who inhabit the lower end of the political food chain, hardly have any influence over such matters. Do we?

Add to the confusion that much of what is available for our news consumption can be considered fake, trash, spin, exaggeration, hyperbole, and simply a colossal distraction. It’s noise!

Then out of the darkness (it is a national dark hour), comes an alert of an upcoming “tell-all” book behind the White House doors. New York Times reports of an upcoming publication of, A Warning, by Anonymous. The article begins with:

The book seems to be the product of a Republican with access to the White House who grew increasingly upset by President Trump.

Really? And we’re expected to pay attention?

Truth emerges when we pay attention

Here’s the thing. Watching and reading and listening to the news will expose us to a lot of chaff before truth emerges. That’s a given. But we must pay attention and be responsible. We’re patriotic citizens, after all.

The public hearings starting this Wednesday provides a window into what is said, how it is said, and why it is said. It’s a moment of discovery with many of the masks torn away – truth will prevail!

But we must pay attention!

We must pay attention to principles

There are some things to keep in mind:

  • Do the testimonies serve and protect the U.S. Constitution?
  • Do political party loyalties interfere with following the law?
  • Are the citizens (we the people) well served in the process?
  • Is our nation and its place among our allies protected?

You may have other measures of what makes the revelatory remarks meaningful. But basic principles which respect the rule of law and to allow all perspectives and voices to be heard must be upheld.

We must pay attention in this solemn moment

The open-door hearings may be a painful process to take in. What we see and hear may anger us. For certain, the proceedings will be a solemn moment in our nation’s history. It will be a time when future recounting will take their own measure of how well or poorly, we the people, do. Did we pay attention?

One thing is certain – this is not simple entertainment. We have considered removing a president only three times before. Never have we actually done so.

There is a lot riding on the skills, the patriotism, and the ability of our legislative leaders to pay attention. They will be paying attention to the attitude and polling of their constituents. Endorsing their actions and rhetoric fuels their progress, just as criticizing their unwelcomed antics will influence their retreat.

Paying attention to what happens in Washington in the upcoming weeks and months is as important as our casting our presidential ballots one year from now. Washington is not insulated from us and we must be mindful we have a role to play. We must pay attention – take it all in, share our views with others, and voice our support or criticism.

The nation’s future depends on how well we pay attention.

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By Jerry Spriggs and the Equal Voice Voting Team