The Feelings of the American People

Last week I found myself increasingly frustrated that Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers refused to address important information in their appearances before the Senate Intelligence Committee. And then, this week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions sang the chorus from the sang song. Despite there being no legal justification, all three men refused to answer questions of a non-classified nature in their public testimony.

I called their offices to express my concerns over this contemptuous behavior. While it may not legally be contempt of Congress, because they had not been subpoenaed by the Committee, it was certainly contempt of the American people.

Not surprisingly, I was met with the most immature and unprofessional responses when I contacted the NSA. They refused to pass on any messages and urged me to put my questions and comments in writing. I did, and while I received an automated acknowledgement of my submission, I never actually received a reply, despite having waited a week. I spoke with one young man who in fact appeared to be trolling me about the NSA’s “active listening.” In fact, they seemed to be upset that the public was calling them at all about Admiral Rogers’ testimony, or lack thereof.

All three men cited “beliefs” and “feelings,” but failed to provide solid legal cause for their unwillingness to be honest with the American public. I suppose forthcoming was never their middle name to begin with. It was eerily reminiscent of All the President’s Men — but with feelings.

I insisted that my teenager watch these Congressional hearings, and that of Former FBI Director Comey, as part of her civics education. Her remarks were incisive and insightful. And, then, unfortunately, she saw another low point, when Committee Chairman Senator Burr chastised Senator Kamala Harris, interrupting her brilliant line of questioning. He did this last week, and amazingly, again, this week. So, disrespect for the American public and misogyny were both on full display. What an ugly lesson, indeed.

Additionally, this week we saw President Trump’s Cabinet members sitting around a large oval conference table, speaking one by one, as if passing a tribal torch around a campfire, to pledge their fealty to the chief. With few exceptions, each one heaped obsequious praise upon the president in a bizarre manner, more befitting a dictator or even a cult leader. And Trump nodded his head, exhibiting no humility, as if he was listening to utterly sage wisdom. What Americans witnessed was distinctly not American, as their only loyalty should be to the American people.

And while we were watching all of this, the Senate GOP held secret meetings to try to pass wildly unpopular legislation that would effect middle and lower class Americans adversely in matters of health and taxes. Something like over 80% of Americans disapprove of these measures.

We heard Ivanka Trump step out on television to complain about the “surprising” level of viciousness in DC. It was not her finest moment. Many Americans, probably the over 60 percent who disapprove of her father, felt trolled by her. Because, certainly, there has never been an American president more vicious in his rhetoric than Donald J. Trump.

Normally, at this point, I would have provided at least half a dozen links to other news articles concerning the issues I’ve raised. But everything I’ve mentioned has been headline news, and you, dear reader, are well aware of these matters. You’re informed and worried and upset and angry and sad.

The Russians hacked our 2016 elections to cause chaos. They spread fake news on social media to drive a wedge between the American people. And everyone knows this, has experienced this, except perhaps for President Trump and a small contingency of his stubborn base. Well, correction — they’ve experienced it, they just don’t seem to want to admit it.

My teenage daughter remarked to me this week that she was envious that I had grown up in what seemed to be a simpler time — where people actually sat together and talked with one another. What the world needs now is love — and honest, respectful, kind,  communication.

Yesterday, a man used a semi-automatic rifle and pistol to open fire on Congressional Representatives, Senators, and others, practicing for an annual bi-partisan baseball game. After critically injuring several, he was eventually shot dead by police.

Yet, yesterday, more transpired. A new US Poet Laureate was appointed. Let’s take inspiration from Tracy K. Smith’s remarks to The Washington Post: “Poetry can help us make sense of the contemporary moment,” she says. “I’m excited by the fact that what poets are writing speaks to a particular moment and it speaks to the ages. Any political moment is uncertain, and a voice that lets us think about that will last. Let’s think about how empathy can drive our perspective of one another. Let’s think about how we can get past what’s binary and simplest to what’s complicated.”

We are a nation in political and emotional turmoil. Will we rally with common sense, common truth and caring? Can we become more united? We have to try. Let’s hope our elected and appointed leaders do, as well.

About the Author
Dana is a Jewish feminist, writer and poet. She is passionate about kindness, spirituality, the artist's voice, and speaking out for the vulnerable. She lives in New York.
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