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Donald Trump | Wiki­media Commons

Perhaps the most iconic scene in Arthur Miller’s “The Cru­cible” is when John Proctor, facing the gallows for alleged involvement in witch­craft, refuses to save his life by signing a false con­fession.

When pressed, Proctor cries out, “Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I lie and sign myself to lies! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name!”

This scene imme­di­ately came to mind after reading an op-ed pub­lished in the New York Times last week, which the edi­torial board attributed to an anonymous senior White House official. This unnamed official spoke of an internal “resis­tance” to Pres­ident Donald Trump’s often chaotic, “reckless” ten­dencies. It was, I assume, an attempt to reassure the American people that the White House is, as Trump would say, a “smooth-running machine.” It had the opposite effect.

By refusing to throw his/her name behind the piece, Anonymous under­mined its purpose. A name would have revealed the char­acter, context, and motive behind the op-ed, and without these things, it can’t be wholly examined or under­stood. This op-ed wasn’t reas­suring, it was alarming.

“Many Trump appointees have vowed to do what we can to pre­serve our demo­c­ratic insti­tu­tions while thwarting Mr. Trump’s more mis­guided impulses until he is out of office,” Anonymous writes.

I take no issue with offi­cials close to Trump advising him toward better aims. (In fact, I think it’s this very thing that has made the Trump pres­i­dency as suc­cessful as it has been.) But this was not advice or counsel. Anonymous, rather, is admitting to secret “thwarting” and covert under­mining.  How does this reassure the American voter?

Anonymous is an unelected official who has taken upon him/herself the respon­si­bility of guiding the country safely to shore. And pub­lishing an op-ed about this sup­posed mission is not a service to the country, it’s political pos­turing. If Anonymous truly wanted to help the Trump admin­is­tration, he/she would openly advise and crit­icize the pres­ident when need be. Instead, he/she took the coward’s route, revealing under­cover goings-on while expecting to be praised for it.

Unfor­tu­nately, none of this is sur­prising. Grand­standing and dra­mati­cized reac­tions are how today’s politicos make the head­lines, so Con­gress is sure to see more Spar­tacus-like men and women in the days to come.

It’s sad — Wash­ington could use a few men like John Proctor. He under­stood well the value of a man’s rep­u­tation and the honor and integrity assigned to it. It cost him every­thing, but Proctor refused to give up his name because it was the only thing worth keeping. We may not know Anonymous’s name, but when it’s revealed — and it will be — it will have very little value, simply because Anonymous didn’t think it was worth much either (or at least, it wasn’t worth more than his/her job).

Even Eliz­abeth, Proctor’s wife, refused to sep­arate him from that which defined him: “He has his goodness now!” she says. “God forbid I take it from him.”

Kaylee is a senior studying pol­itics.