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The Heroes Who Took on Trump's Lies and Brought Truth to Power


Challenging the system is no small feat, as displayed this week on Capitol Hill.

How many of us see our bosses doing wrong, contemplate going to HR or to someone in authority, and then decide to back off because the risk isn't worth it? For some it's about protecting themselves and the income they provide for their families versus trying to correct corporate culture. Family and finances first before forfeiting to the fortress of fiefdom.

And who among us has been so bold and taken that risk, with professional futures in the sweaty palms of their hands, only to be told, "We'll look into it." Then return to work the next day and the day after that and the next week and see the same incompetent behavior of a boss who has not changed and, adding insult to injury, probably hasn't been advised to "buck up." Or worse, be let go.

I've done it twice. First, in my career at a major retailer, I took the initiative, went to someone in charge, and voiced my concern. I was surely nervous, knowing that the company would most likely stand behind a person it had hired at great cost and investment. The person in question was eventually let go after I left for another job, In the end, I always felt like my comments were taken seriously by the company.

The same cannot be said for a more recent attempt to amend a wrong, a much bigger wrong this time, and the results were completely opposite of what happened in the past. I kicked myself for trying to do the right thing. Until this week during the impeachment hearings, when I realized that in spite of everything, coming forward is worth the risk of being left behind.

In recent times we've seen extraordinary examples of people who have taken on the powerful after years of remaining silent and then suddenly, like a wave during a football game, coming alive, a rippling of standing up and raising their hands one at a time, then in droves.

Once the confessional doors of the Catholic Church started unhinging with adult men coming forward untightening the screws to reveal the priests who metaphorically and literally screwed them, the doors fell off revealing unimaginable and unending scandal and abhorrent abuse. The floodgates were open and not even Moses could part the current of a river that washed its dirty, sin-filled holy water over the banks of the Catholic Church. It took the bravery of little boys, hiding within adult men, to come forward exposing inexplicable crimes.

Then came the era of the #MeToo movement. The male-dominated boardrooms and casting couches were exposed as secret abuse dens and davenports, where the mighty and powerful took advantage. In the end, the victims didn't turn out to be so weak and were certainly not willing, and in a cascade of revolt and revelation, they broke down those walls and ripped apart those sofa beds, replacing them with glass walls and straight-backed chairs.

This week we were able to peer into glass walls during the impeachment inquiry. We saw several ambassadors break rank and come forward to tell their side of the story. Yes, they exhibited some courage, but not half as much as their underlings, in Washington parlance; the bureaucrats, who boldly replaced them in those straight-backed chairs and, with their heads held high, spoke a soaring truth to sordid power.

Dr. Fiona Hill, David Holmes, Jennifer Williams, Laura Cooper, David Hall, and Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman stood tall, valiantly trying to rescue a gone-wrong democracy by substantiating high crimes and misdemeanors.

Most of us cannot even begin to comprehend what they were up against. First they had to contend with the reaction of their own bosses and colleagues in their various councils and departments. Most of their cohorts, I'm sure, looked on approvingly, admirably, and forebodingly, silently considering what their peers were up against.

Next the Trump administration tried to slap them down and shut them up by ordering them to refuse their subpoenas to testify. Instead, at their own costs financially and their own peril professionally, they muscled up with lawyers and gave a big middle finger to the autocratic presidential edict.

Having those two fights behind them, they were then thrust into the political and public arena. As someone who has worked with professionals who, for no reason of their own, end up in the glare of the media and in the public discourse, I know it is an absolutely grueling shit show of a circus. I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy or even my worst boss. It's as much relentless as it is ridiculous, but on the flip side, it takes the media to amplify their truths.

Then they spoke those truths, first for hours and hours behind closed doors, and then again under the glare of the media and the grimacing glare of House Republicans. It's inconceivable how elected officials who rely heavily on their staffs to do everything under the sun for them (hello to all of us who picked up dry cleaning, filled the tank with gas, and did grocery shopping) have the gall to mitigate, minimize, and mistreat other staff members within our government. And to insinuate they are liars or misinformed or misguided? Well, it's just another in a series of battle scars for these truth-tellers who valiantly tried to be truthful.

On top of all of this, as if their climbing out on that ledge to save our teetering democracy was not enough, they are bandied and bashed about by none other than their big boss, who takes the childish tack of taunting them on Twitter while they shine during the hearings as the real adults in the room.

"Dad, I'm sitting here today in the U.S. Capitol talking to our elected professionals is proof that you made the right decision 40 years ago to leave the Soviet Union and come here to the United States of America in search of a better life for our family," stated Lt. Col. Vindman. "Do not worry. I will be fine for telling the truth."

Let's hope they will all be fine for risking it all to tell the truth.

JohnCasey is a PR professional and an adjunct professor at Wagner College in New York City, and a frequent columnist for The Advocate. Follow John on Twitter @johntcaseyjr.

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John Casey

John Casey is a senior editor of The Advocate, writing columns about political, societal, and topical issues with leading newsmakers of the day. John spent 30 years working as a PR professional on Capitol Hill, Hollywood, the United Nations and with four large U.S. retailers.
John Casey is a senior editor of The Advocate, writing columns about political, societal, and topical issues with leading newsmakers of the day. John spent 30 years working as a PR professional on Capitol Hill, Hollywood, the United Nations and with four large U.S. retailers.