An Important National Face Slap
The Supreme Court nomination hearings were a painful, sobering reminder of what we’ve become as a representative government and the citizenry it supposedly represents. I think most of us of any ideology are ashamed. We’re better, or ought to be better, than the hyper-partisanship, tribalism, incivility and mutual disrespect that we saw in the media mirror. I’ve never seen so many despondent social media observations from those who were ashamed, embarrassed, angry and concerned to their core. Hopefully, a cathartic face slap.
I was viscerally moved when I recently encountered this wonderful bronze in the old bank building. I was already concerned about our downward governmental spiral, and the power of this simple but profound message struck home and heart. A strong, free, democratic society is built on a foundation of trust. Trust in its institutions, trust in government, trust in business, trust in its leaders, trust in each other. We’ve lost that trust to a great extent, but help is on the way. And, as usual it begins with our friend in the mirror.
TRUST is gained through a mutual expectation of TRUTH. Facts, science, context, thoughtful civil debate, reliable news sources. Not spin, “fake news,” “alternative facts,” or conscious manipulation of information to mislead. TRUTH, not “truthiness.” Some wonderful events are currently taking place that provide a hopeful counter-balance to all these negatives. Let me highlight one, The Texas Tribune Festival, and close with honorable mention kudos to Austin’s Headliners Foundation.
Ten years ago, I was pleased to be invited to join several others in the initial underwriting of the newly-conceived Texas Tribune, an online news service created to cover Texas government and politics. John Thornton, Evan Smith and Ross Ramsey were the braintrust, Thornton was the funding eagle and many of us sparrows gave the initial financial boost for this speculative non-profit venture. Their success has been nothing short of spectacular. In this short span, The Tribune has gathered a team of outstanding journalists, established the largest Capitol bureau of any state organization in the Country and won national recognition for their news stories. Emily Ramshaw is the outstanding Editor-In-Chief. They’re now consulting around the Country to help other states emulate their model. And, their annual Texas Tribune Festival has become one of the largest and most successful gatherings in the Country for “big conversations about big ideas.” This year boasted 360 speakers from all ideologies to share with and challenge their audiences. And thousands came from far and wide to hear them, meet each other and strengthen their networks.
Friday evening, major supporters were gathered to hear Showtime’s “The Circus” (John Heilemann, Mark McKinnon and Alex Wagner) discuss the less funny circus in Washington. The TribFeast guests included many of the TribFest speakers, including superstar Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Michael Avenatti, former Ambassador to Mexico Antonio Garza and Cecile Richards. Local political celebs included Mayor Steve Adler and outstanding State Reps. Donna Howard and Eddie Rodriguez. The room was full of advocates and supporters for responsible journalism. An affirming reminder that facts and truth will be pursued as long as we choose to support The Texas Tribune and other news organizations who provide the foundation for a free and informed society.
My Honorable Mention to Austin’s Headliners Foundation
In a nice coincidence, Austin’s Headliners Foundation hosted their annual Mike Quinn Awards Luncheon on Saturday to recognize outstanding Texas journalism and bestow scholarships to enable young journalism majors to pursue this critical career path. As a past Headliners President and current Board member, I’m extremely proud that the Foundation is playing an increasingly significant role in the support of responsible journalism. We all win in the process.
A MOSEY CLOSE
My Mosey principles include “Slow Down, Pay Attention and Be Informed.” The pace of life, importance of government, changing technology and rapidly evolving job opportunities require that we and our children are well-informed. The times require it. Our enlightened self-interest requires it. Seek to be well-informed, choose multiple news sources and help others with same. We’ll all be the beneficiaries of a better-informed citizenry.