For two years now those of us who have followed the tragic trajectory of this ill-fated Presidency have increasingly attached our hopes to the efforts of Special Counsel Bob Mueller. Now that rumors of the imminence of a final report gather seemingly more credibility with each passing week, a staggering thought that has darted in and out of my consciousness over the last two years is haunting me with increased fervor: namely, what if the report is inconclusive or actually exonerates the President?
Our political and judicial system is predicated on careful deliberation. Plainly and simply, the democratic system constructed by our constitutional founders deliberately built in sufficient checks and balances to guard against tyranny and monarchal/oligarchic/autocratic persuasion. Delay finds comfort in our system in order to protect against impetuous overreach, miscommunication, miscalculation, or mischievousness. Radical mid-course corrections certainly are casualties in what can only be construed as a classic conservative model of governance.
An inconclusive verdict or outright exoneration will only feed an unhealthy cynicism that will continue to erode confidence in our experiment of republican democracy.
But delay, misdirection, obfuscation, and a level of untruthfulness that defies description are hallmarks of the treacherous Trump regime which prides itself on transactional strategic considerations that reward personal financial greed and self aggrandizement. The President is a master of the very traits that dedicated public servants and constitutionalists reject as de facto acts of treason. Further, the degree to which polarization and a newfound fear of being primaries as punishment for disloyalty do not augur well for removal of the treasonous cancer that is eating at the core of our democracy.
In a society that is valiantly coping with a degree of income inequality that has split the upper 1 percent from the remaining 99 percent and has grown both restless of the pace of deliberative investigation and suspicious of a pay to play system that seemingly always penalizes those who play by the rules, frustration and anger continue to build. I am increasingly concerned that an inconclusive verdict or outright exoneration will only feed an unhealthy cynicism that will continue to erode confidence in our experiment of republican democracy.
Some will point to the mid-term elections as validation that things are changing and eventually the will of the people will triumph and our system will repair itself. However, I fear that the long-term damage being inflicted upon our nation and in fact our world by this administration could have profound negative effects that may damage tolerance and willingness to participate in a system viewed as corrupted. What if the system is incapable of repairing itself?
We have slowly been aiding and abetting a transfer of power to the Executive branch by a spineless and complicit legislative branch that is in theory a coequal partner in our constitutional system. Adding to these concerns is the aggressive packing of the judiciary, especially the corrupt delay of Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, that stands as the absolute last guardrail preventing the system from crashing into the policy and ideological abyss.
Believe me, I hope that these fears are not realized, but I am nervous that we may have placed all our eggs in one basket and as is often the case one misstep may break all the eggs. It is vastly disturbing to me that those who qualify as progressives or liberals find ourselves placing tremendous stock in leaders and institutions that not long ago we viewed with great suspicion.
Mueller is a lifelong Republican, McCain was a solid conservative, Comey almost single-handedly shifted the 2016 Presidential election momentum towards Trump in the closing days, Mattis, McMaster, and Kelly were all generals, McCabe is a lifelong Republican, Collins caved on Kavanaugh, Dan Coates was a conservative US Senator from Indiana, and Mike Pence is as slippery as an eel and an evangelical religious zealot.
So I am willing to hope for the best but think it is important to also prepare for the worst. The new Attorney General is a rock rib Republican who can ultimately exert a great deal of influence on both the content of the Mueller report and the degree of exposure it receives. Once again leaks and aggressive maneuvering by the Speaker and House leadership may be able to ultimately expose the report, but that will require additional time and further delay, the very thing that plays into Trump’s playbook and strategic strength.
So be wary of casting unrealistic expectations on the Mueller probe and hope that indeed the system abides by the maxim that the truth will actually set us free. If those hopes are dashed let us work hard to recapture both the Senate and the White House in 2020 and then hope that we can instill the requisite faith and confidence in a system that will restore functionality that currently does not exist.
It is increasingly likely that the newly minted Democratic House will pursue avenues that could ultimately force Trump from office, not through impeachment but through enough pressure on his family to persuade him, kicking and screaming, to forego the fantastic yet futile charade he has perpetrated upon the human race. It is also increasingly likely that by parceling out enough solid leads and tips to districts like the Southern District of New York or the Eastern District of Virginia Mueller may have nailed down what can only be described as the threads to disentangle the criminal enterprise known as the Trump organization. State actions remove the threat of a Presidential pardon and the Special Counsel’s probe may set in motion actions that will bring charges in other venues.
So don’t despair if the Mueller report does not bring a dose of finality to the issue, it may only be the beginning of an unraveling that will require additional attention. We may only be approaching the end of the beginning. But that is how democracy works.