March 15, 2018 Politics I Am An American First We all have labels—words we use to define who we are. I am a writer. I identify with this occupation, though it is only a part of me. I am also a woman, a wife, and mother, but they only describe more pieces of myself that arise from my gender. Some describe themselves by their religion, their hobby or kraft, or maybe their politics. I can do this also, but again, those are only pieces of who I am. If we live within the confines of Lawrence County, we call ourselves Lawrence Countians and Tennesseans. These identities acknowledge that as human beings, we are a part of a culture larger than each of us individually. Further, if we live in the United States, we call ourselves Americans. And, with all that is at stake in this day and time, this is the identifier that deserves our unified loyalty and defense, the leveler of the playing field. Events have shaken this democratic republic in recent months. For the first time in our history, people in power have apparently consorted with the most dangerous of our adversaries in ways only imagined here in nightmare scenarios. In countries like many in Africa, Central America, or the Middle East, such collusion with adversarial states is not uncommon. But, here in America, there have been checks and balances to power that have prevented “cheating” to game the system. During the Nixon administration, members of Congress, impressed with the findings of investigators, forced the president to resign before impeachment. Criminal conspiracy with a goal of obstruction of justice felled the Nixon Administration. The system worked because people in Nixon’s own party chose the health of America over party. The findings of Special Counsel Robert Mueller have not been disclosed, but the wake of the investigation thus far has left enough of the stench of corruption and conspiracy that people in this country should be highly alarmed. Yet the president’s own party remains seemingly mute. There are things we know thus far. One, Putin has a plan to destabilize the West. His FSB (formerly the KGB) has targeted Europe and the United States, in particular, with cyber attacks to sow discord and threaten democratic systems. Make us fight against each other. And, boy golly has his mission worked! Two, KSB operatives at the behest of Putin have spread massive misinformation. Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms allowed these Russians to buy ads and spread false news on fake sites—in Rubles no less! Their objective was to harm Hillary Clinton’s electoral chances and install Trump as president. Three, KSB operatives have also focused on destabilization through direct interference in our elections. States’ voting systems were hacked! Somehow these operatives knew exactly which states to target, and it is only a matter of time before their American abetters are uncovered. Four, our intelligence community surveilled Russian operatives and HEARD their conversations. In fact, these conversations (and those heard by our allies overseas) were what prompted concerns about the Trump Campaign in the first place. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, was marked as an easy target to use for Russian influence. It doesn’t take a very large stretch of the imagination to smell offal as Kushner lied about meeting after meeting and then re-worked his security clearance form to admit them. Five, with proof from our top intelligence agencies and indictments and pleas from conspirators already, the State Department has done nothing with the $120 million appropriated by Congress to combat the STILL-ACTIVE Russian cyber attacks against this country. With sanctions approved against Russia by Congress, this president has done NOTHING to impose those sanctions. He has said not a word against Putin, has offered no rebuke or punishment. This, my fellow Americans, should chill us all to the bone. The Trump Administration is functioning like a Jinga set or a house of cards. With each arrest and each plea, the whole stack threatens to come tumbling down. It’s time for us all to decide who we are first, partisans or Americans. I am an American first. I want my country’s healthy democratic republic restored. I want the rule of law restored and nepotism eliminated. I want to trust in open and fair elections again. I want no person to be above the law. And, I want our government to go back to protecting us from our adversaries not consorting with them. And, I want to hear patriotism and loyalty to country again without people’s own self-interests drowning out the sound.