"Without Truth, There Can Be No Trust"

“In times of crisis, we must not succumb to cynicism and mistrust. Instead, we must maintain faith while embracing reason and truth, not speculation and rumor. Again, we can only obtain this through transparency.”

– Kirkman

Amidst all of this week’s turmoil, I took a few moments Wednesday night to watch the one television show I’ve permitted myself to follow this season. (I have a commitment problem when it comes to serial television – real life often prevents me from regular watching, and this makes me angsty – even with the advent of DVR, on-line viewing, and other such technology.) I was intrigued by the premise of ABC’s “Designated Survivor” when I first saw the previews. I’ve remained intrigued with the show as it’s developed.

I won’t belabor the plot here. If you enjoy the show, you’re already familiar with it. If you don’t, it won’t matter. The Reader’s Digest plot summary: HUD Secretary Tom Kirkman is the “designated survivor” during the State of the Union Address. Virtually everyone else in power is killed when bombs go off at the Capitol. Unexpectedly President, he now has to figure out how to lead the country while authorities attempt to untangle the conspiracy behind the attack.

As I noted Wednesday evening:

Yes, that was tongue-in-cheek.  Between the House Intelligence hearing with Comey and Rogers to kick off the week, the Gorsuch hearings, Devin Nunes’ and Adam Schiff’s War-of-the-Committee-Chairs being played out via dueling press conferences, and the is-they-is-or-is-they-ain’t hand-wringing over the AHCA, a television show about dastardly deeds and intrigue in D.C. was a welcome relief.  Sad(ly).

As the show drew to a close, and President Kirkman addressed the nation to reveal troubling information (about his now-dead VP’s shoot-to-kill order given to authorities tracking down the sniper who’d shot Kirkman – life comes at you fast in this show!), he issued the above exhortation.  And it got me to thinking how much we truly suck at this.

“Drain the swamp” is a popular refrain these days. But it seems like all of Washington is mired in the fever swamp of political and media-fueled backbiting. Competing calls to get to “the truth” ring hollow as the various players stake out their own version of it. There is no THE – it’s mine, yours, his, hers, and theirs. It’s hard not to succumb to cynicism and mistrust.

I realize Tom Kirkman is a fictional character. That’s a shame. As written, he’s possessed of integrity and an unshakeable sense of duty to the country he’s suddenly found himself leading.  D.C. could benefit from more like him.  We all could.