Advocating accountability

Dear President Biden,

There’s so much to do and it’s not looking like the Senate is will be online for business any time soon. This is obviously beyond frustrating – really, it’s life and death for so many of US given the current situation with the pandemic and the horrible economic conditions. I don’t actually know this to be a fact, but my (fairly educated) guess is that Mitch McConnell is enjoying holding you and Schumer (and the American people) hostage to his incredibly bad faith insistence on preserving the filibuster in exchange for moving forward with committee reassignments and additional Covid-19 relief.

I imagine it’s awful for you to see the Senate augured in like this. Actually, I’m guessing it’s breaking your heart at least a little bit since you know that every day of delay means that that many more people are in danger of having their lights turned off and not being able to feed their children. Whereas DJT seemed to use US as exceedingly dispensable pawns in his sick power plays, your earnestness and concern for each of US is palpable. You really seem to abide by the notion that “Every human being is a unique and irreplaceable work of art carrying intrinsic and unsurpassable worth” (A. R. Moxon; aka Julius Goat). I think you draw much of your strength from this deep well of love, but I think it also leaves you vulnerable and feeling tender and raw in situations like this where there’s so much pain that’s being compounded by self-centered gaming and power mongering.

The other major thing that’s been on my heart lately is the question of accountability for DJT and the other insurrectionist office holders. To be sure, the rank and file bad actors that carried out the attack on the Capitol and were hunting lawmakers need to face consequences – major consequences – but I’m so worried that the ringleaders are going to get off. It seems likely that between the bullshit calls for “unity” and the hostage-holding of Cabinet appointments and legislation, that DJT and the others will walk.

I’ve not told you much about myself (I’ll give you a run down on the basics soon), but one of the ways I spend my time is listening to and trying to help women veterans who experienced military sexual trauma. Among the things I’ve learned from them is how profoundly damaging it can be (it might even be safe to say “it is”) when a perpetrator is not held accountable for their actions. One of the fallouts from this is a tendency to minimize what happened because if it had been serious, surely the person would have faced consequences. Another is that if the perpetrator is on the loose, it can (and often does) engender a debilitating fear that they will resurface and cause the woman harm again. None of this is surprising or hard to understand, but when you hear the stories and see the fear, it’s heart rending and the horror of it is hard to face.

I’m sure you see the parallels between such badly handled instances of interpersonal violence and how unlikely it is that the Senate will convict DJT and restrict him from holding office in the future. Similar to this situation with DJT, my patients’ stories make clear that unit cohesion and men’s reputations and careers were (are) routinely preferenced over justice for these women even if it meant the perpetrators were free to go on abusing and raping.

I don’t think DJT is actually going to make another run for president, but if he isn’t sanctioned for his treasonous behavior, we do put ourselves at risk for such a thing, and critically, we fail to check his power and influence. We also teach all the other wanna-be autocrats that there’s a viable path in the US for them if they’re ruthless and brazen enough.

May we safeguard ourselves from would-be repeat offenders.
May we be willing to hold bad actors, no matter their office, accountable.
May we resist the strong pull to sweep things under the rug and move on.
May we accept that real reckonings are usually messy and hard.

Tracy Simpson

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