Each and every Father’s Day, especially since I became the father of two boys of my own, a flood of childhood memories of my late father rushes over me. Dad had a way of saying, “Stick with me, kid,” always with a wry smile, when it was clear some activity he planned for us worked out just as he told me it would.
We spent hundreds of days skiing together in New England. Our routine was to wake up early, have a big breakfast, then hit the slopes as soon as the lifts opened. During my senior year of high school, Dad turned a series of college visits into a spring vacation/weeklong ski trip. For every school we toured, there was a mountain we skied from dawn to dusk. And Dad would always say at the end of one of those days, “Stick with me, kid.”
I hear my dad when my older son plays the piano. I see him when I look at my nephew. And I feel him in my heart, when I wake up in the morning, when I go to sleep at night and so much time in between.
It was easy to stick with Dad. He taught me about morals, ethics, the value of hard work and, most of all, about love, family and a father’s responsibility to his children.
We as a country are failing at a father’s most basic responsibility — to keep his children safe from harm. Mass-casualty shootings plague our country.
If there is one silver lining in these dark clouds of brutality, it is that we can all see the problem clearly. We do not need government experts or the intelligence community to lift the veil and shine a spotlight on this threat to our nation. Schools, hospitals, neighborhood markets and places of worship should be free from gun violence. But they are not.
The biblical quotation John 8:32 is fixed in stone at the CIA’s headquarters: “And Ye Shall Know the Truth and the Truth Shall Make You Free.”
We see the challenge before us, but our political process is too often missing the bipartisan collaboration we so desperately need. Operating in a hyper-partisan atmosphere, our politicians search for their adversaries’ vulnerable spots and aim their rhetorical fire against one another, rather than focus on their duty to solve the five-alarm fire consuming our nation’s core.
Anyone who doubts this sorry state of our political process need only check in with the Kremlin, which has been extraordinarily successful at using its sophisticated propaganda machine to amplify divisions in our society and partisanship in our politics.
What binds us together as Americans should always outweigh what pushes Democrats and Republicans apart.
I have met hundreds of Democrat and Republican politicians. I have spent hours and hours testifying in closed sessions on Capitol Hill. The politicians I met, especially the ones who visited us in war zones overseas, were deeply honored to serve their country and shoulder their sacred responsibility to make our citizens’ lives better.
Our politicians are better than this. They’ve found the holy grail of bipartisan consensus coming together to aid Ukraine in the fight for liberty, freedom and democracy against KGB-operative-in-the-Kremlin Vladimir Putin. And they are uniting on a common mission to deter and counter a rising China.
All of our politicians can agree on the need to eliminate this scourge of self-inflicted violence that haunts our nation.
Like many Americans, I have tracked with interest the debates in Congress and on the airwaves about what could be done to prevent future mass shootings. But let’s be clear: It’s our elected officials who are on the hook to solve these sorts of problems so that we as citizens can focus on living our lives and caring for our loved ones.
After all, is that not why we voted them into office? We can grade their performance based on one very simple metric: Did they solve the problem or at least make some significant headway? Recall then-candidate Ronald Reagan asking during a 1980 presidential debate whether we were better off than four years ago.
Charles Krauthammer once wrote, “I don’t care what a public figure thinks. I care about what he does. Let God probe his inner heart.” It’s time for our elected officials to demonstrate their seriousness of purpose. They might fear being judged at the ballot box and voted out of office, but if they fail, it is those who are too young to vote who will bear the brunt of their failure.
My dad would understand.
• Daniel N. Hoffman is a retired clandestine services officer and former chief of station with the Central Intelligence Agency. His combined 30 years of government service included high-level overseas and domestic positions at the CIA. He has been a Fox News contributor since May 2018. Follow him on Twitter @DanielHoffmanDC.