A Pearl Called Democracy

Remember shadowy “Deep Throat” from the Watergate scandal? Do you know who owned that nickname? I did not, but Google knows. Reporters discuss the January 6, 2021 presidential scandal and keep referencing Watergate. Nixon loyalists had chanted “witch hunt” in 1972, but the dirty tricks were real. This sad choice of words has reappeared, but the dirty tricks are deadly.

It turns out that few knew the mystery-throated person’s identity — until 31 years after Nixon’s resignation (11 years after Nixon’s death). A former FBI Associate Director named Mark Felt (1913-2008) was “Deep Throat.” Felt had denied unwanted fame earlier, but in 2005 a family attorney broke the story when Felt had dementia at age 91. Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, then reporters for The Washington Post, had received secretive information about the Watergate burglars directly from Felt and confirmed the truth.

When truth is stranger than fiction, you know there is more to the story. The catchy “Deep Throat” label was issued by Howard Simons, a managing editor of The Washington Post. Simons copied the salacious nickname from a 1972 pornographic movie by the same name.  

Now, 50 years after the Watergate break-in on June 17, 1972, we are embroiled in another presidential no-no, only this time the stakes are so much higher and for so many more U.S. citizens. We might call this tragedy “Deep Water.” In the Watergate episode, police arrested 5 men in suits. So far, the number of folks charged in the January 6th “Deep Water” disaster — some wearing military fatigues and brandishing American flag poles as battering rams to breach the Capitol — comes to 865 and counting.

All the President’s Men, the movie version of Watergate, won 4 Academy Awards. I’m guessing that someone will make a movie out of the shocking January 6th events, but no future awards can rescue the trauma-soaked lives of countless families from the real-life drama at the Capitol.   

If you have been a Pearls of Peace reader, you may recall the trauma drama of how a pearl is born  (See “Pearls and Trauma,” 7-21-21: “…pearls have a trauma history…conception occurs as a natural defense against an intruder.”) America desperately needs to create pearls of peace out of trauma intruding upon democracy.

Pearls are incredibly diverse. We need to celebrate our diverse America. Have we forgotten poet and refugee advocate Emma Lazarus’ words? Although asked to write a poem, her words were forgotten and not inscribed on the Statue of Liberty until after her death (at age 38). “Give me your tired, your poor / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” stands for precious democratic principles.

Everyone deserves to exercise liberty in voting. Everyone deserves assurance that their vote is honored. Correct vote tallies will keep us out of “Deep Water.” Voting defines our country’s pearl, democracy.   

 Pearls of Peace (PoP) Quiz:

92. When have you taken a stand for democratic principles in your life?

93. What might you do today to protect democratic values?

By Janis Johnston

Janis Clark Johnston, Ed.D., has a doctorate in counseling psychology from Boston University. She has worked with children, families, and groups (ages 3-83) with presenting issues of anxiety, depression, trauma, loss, and relationship concerns. She initially worked as a school psychologist in public schools and was awarded School Psychology Practitioner of the Year for Region 1 in Illinois for her innovative work. She was a supervising psychologist at a mental health center, an employee-assistance therapist and a trainer for agencies prior to having a family therapy private practice. Recipient of the 2011 Founder’s Award for her dedication to the parenting education of Parenthesis Family Center (now called New Moms), and the 2002 Community Spirit Award from Sarah’s Inn, a domestic violence shelter and education center, Johnston is an active participant in numerous volunteer activities supporting children and families in her community. A frequent presenter at national psychology and educational conferences, Johnston has published journal articles, book chapters, and two books -- It Takes a Child to Raise a Parent: Stories of Evolving Child and Parent Development (2013, hardback; 2019, paperback) and Midlife Maze: A Map to Recovery and Rediscovery after Loss (2017, hardback; 2019, paperback). In addition to augmenting and supporting personal growth in families, Johnston is a Master Gardener and loves nurturing growth in the plants in her yard.

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