My family’s roots in the Old Dominion go back to 1629 on my mother’s side and 1656 on my father’s; to say I have Virginia’s best interest at heart would be an understatement given the blood that runs through my veins.
Where we Virginians find ourselves in November 2019 is a nightmare. We must do everything in our power to wake up.
To begin with, I do not believe Virginians are guaranteed free, fair and secure elections in 2020 and beyond. There is no evidence that we are effectively combatting the problems facing our national and state elections and we must, absolutely must, win this fight. Our system of self-government only works if we the people choose our representatives. We cannot have foreign nations and other actors interfering in our elections.
I want my children to have a chance to enjoy the freedom for which their ancestors crossed the Atlantic centuries ago, and right now I’m not convinced they will.
There are several election security bills before Congress right now that would help ensure that our elections are secure. Senators Kaine and Warner should support measures such as the Securing America’s Federal Elections Act (SAFE Act), Defending Elections from Threats by Establishing Redlines Act (DETER Act), Duty to Report Act, and the Honest Ads Act to ensure our elections are secure.
But that is not enough. We must also address the abuses of power and threats to our country that are coming from within our own government.
My career has allowed me the great honor to work in multiple offices in the executive and legislative branches of the federal government. If at any point during my career I had seen something unethical, which I never did, I would have surely stepped up and properly reported what I saw with the assurance that other patriotic civil servants working for our country would help right a wrong.
But right now, the administration is publicly threatening retaliation against a civil servant who had the courage to speak up. When he/she was alerted to the improper conduct by the president urging a foreign government to help investigate a political rival, this whistleblower followed all the proper protocols and does not deserve to be threatened by our government for doing their job.
If we don’t protect this whistleblower are we are creating a precedent so that future Americans and Virginians, patriotic to the core, will not be allowed to speak up if they see something amiss?
This stands against what our Commonwealth was founded upon and against how I want to raise my children. My ancestors left Europe for a better future in Virginia where my family has been blessed to live ever since, and I do not take this blessing for granted. We must protect our civil servants’ abilities to serve our country well by protecting the rights of those willing to speak up.
When future generations of Virginians are reading their history books, or whatever mode they’ll be learning from in schools one day, we must ensure they understand the protection afforded to those who step up and do the right thing when they see something is wrong.
From personal experience teaching English in German schools as a Fulbright scholar, I know the repercussions of generations down the line that suffer from the “what if” question about the actions of their ancestors. Our grandchildren one day will learn about the events of 2019 and will look back to us and ask what we did to protect our country; to protect our freedom. We have the opportunity now to act in a way that ensures we can be proud of the legacy we leave, that is: we can and should ensure that speaking up is a right that is protected.
It’s not too late to be able to proudly answer our grandchildren that we righted a wrong when we saw it. We recognized the threat to our democracy and we stopped it. We understood the implications at risk and we acted upon them. We owe it to future Virginians so that they don’t have to look back at our generation as a turning point and wonder “what if.”
Lynne Sade is a volunteer with the Virginia chapter of Stand Up Republic.