Shredding Of A Nation’s Scruples

A blogger has the choice of what to write about on any given day. Whatever might be an uplifting event or one that annoys down to the bone is equal fodder as the fingers fly about the keyboard. While many stories caught my attention over the Thanksgiving holiday one stood out for its absurdity on the one hand, and a perfect illumination as to where this nation finds itself on the other.

Rather than meet and greet the troops overseas, as other presidents have done on this holiday, Donald Trump took his peevishness public in an odd White House press availability that made him look still smaller. He stated that should the electoral college vote an outcome that makes Joe Biden the winner he would willingly leave the White House.

Perhaps for his base that seemed like a plausible statement. For the rest of the nation, it was another example of what shocks our national conscience. For the length of our history, there has not been any other person, while an incumbent in the Oval Office, who had to be asked what they would do when confronted with the news of losing the Electoral College. Had the question been posed it would have meant was the outgoing president planning to write memoirs, give speeches, or start a foundation?

But Trump had to be asked if he planned to leave the White House. That is where we are as a nation in 2020! The question and his response were treated as an actual news story when at any other point in our past there would have been no rational reason to explore the topic.

Going forward the question we all should ask is one this blog has posed in varying ways over the past four years. Will the norms that we grew up with return? Will the healthy regard for institutional behavior and reasoned deportment in personal conduct by our top elected official find a place to be again firmly rooted? It is these aspects of our democracy that reporters must continue to press as they prepare to cover a new administration.

What we learned from just this brief back-and-forth with the White House press on Thanksgiving is the importance of the work they do for the nation. When a reporter calls out for a response to the facts and the autocratic menace attempts to continue lies, as with the election outcome, there must be public accountability. Reporters must always be mindful that stains on democracy must be called out and made known to the citizenry.

As we have watched the almost hourly shedding of institutional scruples by Trump it is most clear reporters have a much larger role to play in our nation than be mere presidential stenographers. The hand-holding and coddling that too many Republicans have allowed for Trump, in the wake of his loss of the election, is not in the interest of our democracy.

We have witnessed the weakness of the elected parts of the GOP as they are panicky about the base and in such fearful behavior have kneeled to Trump. But in so doing they have made a larger point for the rest of us. We still have the power to tell the truth. We have demonstrated what a critical mass of people in this nation can achieve. We will not allow for the continual shedding of our national scruples.

We have democracy as our foundation and it is also our light to see us proceed forward.

And so it goes.