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Nearly three months ago I penned an article essentially cautioning those who rested their hopes that his testimony would provide the needed boost required to push an impeachment inquiry over the line to be prepared for disappointment. I hoped that I would be proven wrong. I wasn’t. This week Robert Mueller ignominiously folded into the fabric of Washington politics and most likely closed out a career in public service by telling Congress and the American people they were on their own.

Mueller Folded

My initial thoughts, captured in print that few will ever see, reflected a rant worthy of Trumpian proportions and hyperbole sans lies, deceit, and misinformation. I was truly angry that Mueller’s presentation was, to be kind, shoddy. But I respect his career and basically accept that we must move on.

Over 40 years ago, while in graduate school, I had the privilege of studying under Dr. Peter Bachrach, a giant in the field of political philosophy. He, together with Morton Baratz, in the early 1960’s propounded the theory of non-decisionmaking. On the face of it one might suggest that it is simply the avoidance of making a decision, but in actuality it is a decision not to make a decision. The position that Director Mueller employed in his tortured rationale both to not exonerate the President from criminal acts (obstruction of justice being a felony crime) yet to not pursue indictment of a sitting President seems to fit nicely in the context of non-decisionmaking theory.

As a Democrat, I am angry, as an American I am sad, and as a liberal I am fearful that our democracy is slipping away. I could attack with savage indignation the man whom many had mistakenly placed so much faith in to illuminate the facts, evidence, and in what I suppose is a fantasy, the truth, but that would only reduce me to a level of gutter politics employed by the Twitter-in-Chief. I will reserve my personal animus and merely focus upon where we go from here, at least trying to act like a thinking adult.

Mueller’s testimony does not close the chapter on investigation, only on his involvement in it. We owe it to ourselves to continue to plumb the depths of this sorry chapter in our history and follow it to wherever it leads.

The Democratic Party is at a crossroads, and its leader, Speaker Pelosi, is valiantly attempting to cobble together a party that is split and becoming more fractured as a sober reading of the Mueller report exposes the degree to which transgressions against ethical propriety and likely criminality by the President and his Administration come clearer into focus.

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Support for an impeachment inquiry that will, in all likelihood, be unsuccessful in light of the Republican entrenchment behind Trump in the Senate certainly carries political risks. But placing reliance upon the upcoming Presidential election, particularly in light of the overwhelming level of electoral interference which has been documented in the last election and being encouraged in next year’s election by a stubborn denial of its effectiveness is maybe even a riskier proposition. The risk is also compounded by an antiquated Electoral College, rampant gerrymandering, and sinister voter suppression efforts that all work against the primal notion of one person, one vote and the will of the people.

Mueller’s report may have steadfastly refused to offer an indictment of the President, but it has not closed the book on future culpability for crimes committed. Congress has a right to fulfill the obligations and responsibilities inherent in the oath that each member takes to protect the nation and the people. An impeachment inquiry does not automatically mean impeachment and continuing investigation into the sordid and extraordinarily damaging actions bordering if not crossing the line on treason, bribery, and high crimes and misdemeanors demands unconditional scrutiny. Mueller’s testimony does not close the chapter on investigation, only on his involvement in it. We owe it to ourselves to continue to plumb the depths of this sorry chapter in our history and follow it to wherever it leads.

While Congressional members engage their respective constituents over the upcoming six weeks of recess they must be honest with the American people and explain how high the stakes are for this democratic experiment that has propelled us forward for the past two and a half centuries and made us the standard bearer, the beacon of liberty, justice and freedom to nations around the globe.

There is no reason why this should not be a bipartisan effort unless political considerations—driven by special interests, greed, and lust for power—cloud the solemn obligations of our elected leadership. The most sacred maxim accompanying our leadership in the world is the stated belief that no one person is above the law. Refusing to confront the accusations of collusion, obstruction of justice, and foreign government interference as clearly elucidated both in the Mueller report and in Director Mueller’s testimony represents nothing less than a miscarriage of justice and diminishes us in the eyes of those who will chronicle how we responded to this crisis of confidence that has come to identify the Trump Era.

So regardless of disappointment, anger, or disgust, we as a society must move forward in a way that preserves our integrity and commitment to ideals propounded by the founders and embodied in our Constitution and Declaration of Independence. Those ideals are as precious today as they were when they were debated almost 250 years ago. It is now up to us as individual citizens to ensure our leaders and institutions respect them as much as we do.

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Lance Simmens