James Comey: a mirror for every partisan American
The 2016 U.S. presidential election will probably go down as one of the most tumultuous ones in recent history. July 5th 2016, FBI director James Comey makes a televised announcement about Secretary Clinton’s email investigation. He recommends against an indictment on any charges but characterizes her as careless (http://www.thompsontimeline.com/tag/james-comey/).
This sets off a partisan controversy with republicans describing his move as politically motivated and Democrats asserting his integrity. He was a villain complicit for some and a saint for others.
Fast forward October 31st, one week before election day, James Comey sends an unexpected letter to congress informing them that a new investigation is underway after new emails were discovered from a different case.
Once more, this unleashes a firestorm: democrats and republicans borrow from each other’s previous playbooks and resume the character assassination and/or praise of Mr. Comey. Once a villain for the republicans, James Comey is now their Saint; a man of integrity whose bravery is commendable. Democrats on the other end, now question his integrity which was once unquestionable.
A week later, the FBI Director wrote his final email to congress. He confirms the end of the supplemental investigation and states that the same recommendation to not prosecute Secretary Clinton stands
What can be learned from this story?
Comey was the same; he never changed
All throughout the campaign season, both Trump and Secretary Clinton have been dragged into controversies.
As reflected by polls, their favorability numbers are amid the lowest in U.S. election history. Both candidates have also poorly scored on the trustworthy metric. This to say that neither camp have the moral authority to cast a stone on matters of integrity. Unless such authority is derived from their mastery of corruption, flip-flopping or dubious business and political practices.
Comey was driven by his own convictions which he plainly explained for all to hear during the congressional hearing that followed the televised address about the FBI ruling. He stated being driven by fairness and a desire for transparency. As a result, he determined there was no evidence that would warrant a criminal prosecution of Secretary Clinton. And to be consistent with his motivation for transparency, he was detailed and candid about her carelessness.
I was not familiar with Mr. Comey until this campaign season. From the depictions provided by both camps, and the way he handled the case, I came to admire the man and now hold him in high esteem. Here is why:
Whether one month, a week or a day before election day, every action taken by Mr. Comey was consistent with what he said about being motivated by fairness and transparency. He never deviated from that. The attempts for character assassination were mere reflections of each camp’s inability to handle the uncertainty that comes with his commitment to fairness and transparency. The timing of the discovery of additional emails placed him in a delicate situation which would be criticized no matter which action he took.
Obsessing over “being right” turns us into bullies
Each campaign was driven by their respective agendas and therefore did not care about Comey’s truth. He was of no value to them except to the extent he was aligned to their goals and could further their narrative. Praises of his character were but flattery. He was reduced to an object to be leveraged or trampled upon.
Sadly, what we witnessed was a typical pattern of communication in real life. When agendas drive our engagement and relationships with others, we rationalize and justify the process of dehumanization. We direct blame outwardly and are unable or unwilling to introspect, listen and give the benef of the doubt. We forget everything we knew to be true about others for a simplistic and expedient mischaracterization of their person.
One critical characteristic of empathetic people is their ability to introspect. They go inward for an objective analysis of their own actions and thoughts. This saves them from being stuck and from denying the dignity and humanity owed to everyone. May we find the humility to introspect and to not let agendas drive our interactions with fellow human beings.
Let’s face it
Let’s face it, I am the problem
I rather blame all these faces
Although it’s so blatant
That I am always right
And always justified
It’s time for me to own it
I don’t know how to take it
When facing other people who think differently
So I pick a fight or just choose to stay afar
One new song, one new story, one new life
I am changing my ways, I am changing my ways today
One new song, one new story
Change is on its way
Love is on its way today I swear
It’s amazing, how much energy
I spend on judging others because I am insecure
So I use my pride as a shield and hide behind
Hypocrite, I don’t want to be a Hypocrite
Screaming out world peace
But in my life spreading hatred.
It is decided, today is a new day
Though I know we will disagree
I am not going to violate your dignity
Cause I choose to love you
Oh Yes I choose to love you