The perspective of a group of Ukrainian journalists visiting the United States might not seem the most relevant in normal times.
But we’re definitely not living in normal times.
With the U.S. House of Representatives conducting impeachment hearings against the U.S. president, based largely on dealings with that former Soviet republic, the perspective of those from Ukraine seems particularly pertinent.
And it turns out, according to reporting from The Topeka Capital-Journal’s Sherman Smith, that most people in the country struggle to see the problem with the accusations leveled against President Trump. As Ukraine grapples with serious corruption and ethics problems in its leadership, the issues at the heart of the impeachment and investigations seem paltry.
“We have one and the same case, or event, that is looked at from two different perspectives — from the perspective of American scale of corruption and the scale of Ukrainian corruption — and these scales are different,” one of the Ukrainians, Maryna Ansiforova, told Smith. “In America, it’s a big deal. In Ukraine, compared to one billion moved out of the state budget and put into private pockets, a conversation about quid pro quo — this doesn’t really compare.”
Depending on your side in the ongoing political battles engulfing this country, you might think that such a statement shows how utterly unimportant the impeachment investigation is.
But the Ukrainian journalists don’t see it quite that way either.
“This is quite a delicate matter — and when I say delicate matter, this is not like big embezzlement, like somebody stole something big or made a grand offense,” journalist Valeriia Yehoshyna told Smith. “This is more like a nature of the character, or moral presentation, rather than just professional duties.”
And that’s the whole point.
We can argue at length about who said what at what point. Timelines can be investigated, and witnesses can be tallied. But the ultimate question that our elected representatives — and likely our senators — will have to face is this:
What kind of character can we expect from our elected officials? How do we expect them to conduct themselves in the office and why?
We should be proud and relieved to live in a country that has a long history of stable democracy and public servants of both parties who have put character ahead of their own personal gains. That history did not disappear out when our current president took office, and it will not disappear when his successor takes office in 2021 or 2025.
The Ukrainian journalists, while reminding us of how good we’ve got it now, also put into perspective the very real challenges we face.