The revelation of barbaric inhumanity can bring an epiphany of brutal reality. And I don’t mean that rhetorically. The people who are chanting “Death to Israel” and “Death to America” mean it. We get it. The question in the minds of many North Carolinians is “Do our representatives in Washington, DC get it?” Do they realize the threat to our people as they focus on themselves? The unwise act of removing the speaker of the House is only topped by the irresponsible public squabble to elect one while the enemy is at the door.

The unimaginable atrocities of the attack on Israeli citizens on Oct. 7, 2023, should raise the level of vigilance in our state and in our nation. When Israeli citizens can be massacred on a peaceful Saturday morning, the distance to a Fox News Alert about the next 9/11 on American soil isn’t far — it’s frighteningly near. We’re left wondering: if we, the common folk, can see the writing on the wall, then why in the world can’t those we’ve elected to protect us do the same? Perhaps our president and his radical advisors are blinded by the windy ideology of climate change, but what about Congress? What about the House of Representatives? How about the majority we elected to govern?

From my perch in North Carolina, I’ve tuned into the proceedings on the floor of the House more times than I care to admit. There, I’ve watched conservative Republican representatives (thankfully, none from our Tar Heel State), casting what can only be described as throw-away votes for speaker of the House candidates not even officially running. “Do they not see what we see?” becomes the incredulous chorus in homes across our state. One starts to wonder if there’s a Gnostic gospel of politics that they’re reading, which we, the unwashed masses, simply don’t have access to.

Despite the carnival of missteps and falls we witness daily, we are proud of speaker pro tem Patrick McHenry, R-NC. In a landscape where many are failing to do so, Rep. McHenry is doing what Tarheels do best: standing strong and holding the line. He embodies our state’s creed: to be rather than to seem. Thank you, sir.

We could be forgiven for thinking that either some grand, elusive plan exists that’s too sophisticated for our understanding, or worse, that these politicians don’t care about the imminent threats. There’s a third possibility, equally terrifying but perhaps the most realistic: our elected officials are distracted by illusions of personal gain, celebrity status, and privileged conceit. Maybe add in “hurt feelings.” Have we not learned from the chilling suddenness of the events of these recent days? Governing is not about you. This is about protecting American citizens.

And so, to our elected officials — I can’t believe I’m writing this, “to our conservative Constitution-loving representatives” — we offer this urgent plea: do your job and get our House in order. Secure and strengthen the speaker of the House. And for the cause of all that is good and dear, do your all with the political clout you are afforded: Close the open door to would-be terrorists. Now. Root out and remove the invaders who have already breached our home. Now. Honor and protect our precious women and our children from the obvious evil forces that seek to hurt them. Equip our young men to defend the homeland if necessary. In other words, lead: lead as if your life depends on it.

It’s time to heed the call of a concerned but resilient citizenry. The people who say they want to kill us are in a position to do just that. Stop trading away the responsibilities of leadership for the porridge pot of silly sibling rivalry. So, in the name of all that is good and right, lead. North Carolina is watching. America is watching. And we’re all running out of patience. And some of us fear we are running out of time.