Dear Editor:

Volodymyr Zelensky, the young, inexperienced – newly elected – president of the fledgling democracy of Ukraine, ran for president on the promises of honesty, transparency and the end of endemic corruption.  

Then, in what was billed as a “perfect” congratulatory phone call, he was invited by the president of the United States to “do us a favor though” – a favor that he knew was wrong – a favor that he knew would engage him in U.S. politics – a favor that would betray all the promises that he had made in his campaign for the presidency of Ukraine. He resisted.

He resisted the person that many people call ‘the most powerful person in the world.’ If it wasn’t immediately clear then, it is quite clear now that an invitation to visit the White House was being withheld until he did the president’s bidding. He continued to resist.

A new layer was added. The president of the United States directed that military aid (needed for the Ukrainian war with Russia) be withheld until Volodymyr Zelensky himself announced political investigations that would be helpful in Trump’s reelection campaign. Zelensky continued to resist.

Faced with mounting pressure from the U.S. and desperate to fend off Russian aggression toward Ukraine, Zelensky finally gave in and agreed to make the announcements on CNN. But, before the appointed time for those announcements, the scheme was exposed and an impeachment inquiry had begun. Zelensky had held out long enough to be relieved of an unholy burden.8pt

Volodymyr Zelensky did indeed “do us a favor though.” He did us the favor of showing us what honesty, courage and patriotism look like – things we seem to have forgotten. Zelensky’s resistance helped bring about the impeachment inquiry, and, though the president remains in office, his impeachment exposed serious threats to our democracy. It exposed how fragile our democracy is – and how democratic processes can be used to bring about the demise of democracy. Volodymyr Zelensky did us the ‘favor’ of showing our elected officials what integrity looks like.

I was born shortly after WWII. Throughout my youth and young adulthood – through many presidents, and multiple wars and “conflicts”- the banner under which we “sold” our foreign policy was “Making the World Safe for Democracy.” Thousands upon thousands of men and women have given their lives “making the world safe for democracy.”  

How ironic then that we are unable to keep our democracy safe from ourselves – but we should be grateful for a young Ukrainian president who gave us an opportunity to do so. It remains to be seen how our president will punish him and his country for that. 

Dale Goodman