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We may never know the end game Robert Mueller was aiming for, then again like a burst water main it may all spill forth like a great gusher of conscience in either public testimony (in the short term) or in the seeds planted in the fourteen referrals contained in his report to various Federal courts (a more long-term prognosis). Either way typical American impatience may simply rule if not rue the day.

Mueller Failed

It is likely that only a small portion of even the most ardent followers of what could be a crucial turning point in our flirtation with democracy will actually attempt to digest what actually is presented in the Mueller report, thus the boxing match between competing media echo chambers will continue to harden the entrenched polarization that has become the status quo in the era of Trump.

For those who seriously wish for some semblance of a return to normalcy where the sausage making that characterizes our governmental and political systems somehow manages to advance society, even if messily and at a glacial pace, they can sadly point with some assurance that history will record our enduring predicament as a low point in the country’s evolution.

This is a rather paltry consolation but it may be the best we can hope for. What is certain is that now is not the time to simply accept our misfortune but rather to suck up our fortitude and resolve to ensure we never again find ourselves in such desperate and calamitous times. The electorate’s inability to simply hold their elected officials responsible for a worsening state of affairs is compounded by a pervasive intellectual laziness that relies upon gut instincts rather than civic education.

Whether it is corporate influence propelled by seemingly unlimited and unregulated cash or social media manipulation directed by foreign adversaries, blatant efforts to gerrymander representation for distinct partisan advantage, surreptitious restrictions placed upon voter registration and identification, or either lack of knowledge about or abandonment of the simplest notion of public service, our nation is adrift in perilous swells that threaten to sink the ship of state.

Our constitutional structure of government is balanced on the concepts of consensus and compromise, buttressed by separation of powers and checks and balances. We may wish to revoke these fundamental principles, as is currently being implemented by the Trump administration, with the backing of the Republican Party, but we do so at the risk of uncertainty as to whether the resulting system will adhere to what most believe to be the bedrock philosophies underlying a just and free society. Think about that for a second. What cost will such a transformation exact upon our existence?

Mr. Mueller, whether or not this was your intent, your devotion to institutionalist restraint has sufficiently clouded the issue of whether the President can be held accountable for criminal actions

The President is threatening to choke off core principles of our constitutionally mandated system of representative democracy. How deeply dark must lie the secrets he so blatantly attempts to hide? At this point, our President is above the law. Mr. Mueller, whether or not this was your intent, your devotion to institutionalist restraint has sufficiently clouded the issue of whether the President can be held accountable for criminal actions. Even more alarming you have opened a loophole that will allow treasonous actions by a corrupt administration that will certainly comfort foreign adversaries who wish to bring down our system of democratic governance, however imperfect it may be.

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The Special Counsel has kicked the can down the road, delayed application of justice (justice delayed is indeed justice denied), and bowed to the convenience of avoidance of controversy and non-decision-making. So now the game of musical chairs shifts to what is likely to be a long and laborious series of court battles and a continuing exposure to the juvenile antics of a demented man-child who is a master manipulator of divisive and hateful public narrative punctuated by outright untruths. And this is the environment that will likely prevail over the next maddening eighteen months until election day. So the real question is whether or not our democracy is worth saving?

I am not suggesting that at any point in our existence we adhered to a perfect construction of democratic principles but rather that we have always been a work in progress with at least definable goals. We are currently sliding into a philosophical abyss that may radically displace laudable and noble goals with what can only be described as a gamble on winning the lottery in a world permanently morphing into one defined by gross income inequality. Some see this alternative world as tribal, I see a feudal society not unlike that which characterized human existence in the Dark Ages. Is this really what we want to bet our children’s future on?

Under no circumstance can I imagine a world where Trumpian philosophy can coexist with more liberal social policy prescriptions (universal health care, affordable education, sensible immigration reform, a tax system that is not skewed towards the upper classes and corporations, sensible gun control measures, a minimum wage that is a living wage, long-term environmental policies that actually rein in climate change, and racial, religious, and cultural diversity, just to highlight a few). Therefore it is essential that we as a society first and foremost galvanizes support to defeat those who support inequity and injustice. In other words, defeating Trump is our most serious and solemn responsibility.

I am concerned that there is a fissure in the Democratic Party that has developed between those who wish to make defeating Trump the primary issue versus advancing policies that make us a better society. This is a false choice, we can do both! We must advance an impeachment process, the basic tenets of a case to be made for impeachment must follow a prescribed and deliberate examination and hearing of the evidence.

The Mueller report, while constrained and lacking in intensity, is a good starting point. Impeachment resulting in the removal of the President is a long shot for sure given the reluctance of Republican Party stalwarts to challenge Trump, but it is the solemn responsibility of those elected Representatives in the House to make their case one way or another and let the American people render their judgement as to whether it is warranted. I reject wholeheartedly those who prefer to punt on this issue because they are wary that it may backfire against them politically. I am reminded of the words of a former political statesman who once told me he would rather fall standing for something than remain standing for nothing.

The important message, if that is what is concerning Democratic leaders, is to proceed with the impeachment process. A fair and transparent process that informs leaders and the public should dictate political decisions, then let the facts govern how to proceed. At the same time it is incumbent upon our legislative leaders to advance policies and issues they feel are important. This is not an either/or proposition but an all-inclusive strategy to deal with the problems facing the nation.

So roll up your sleeves and set the processes in motion for averting what is looming on the horizon. While the cost of inaction if simply unacceptable from either a short or long-term perspective, the cost of insufficient action may result in short-term gain and long-term pain and is equally unacceptable. Now is the time to stand tall.

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Lance Simmens