By Dave B.
Now that the (redacted) Mueller report is out, a couple things are unambiguously clear (if one chooses to be objective). Most importantly, despite both groups working towards the same goal, there isn’t enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that President Trump’s campaign engaged in coordinated efforts with the Russian government to win the election. And the fact that there isn’t enough proof to establish that beyond a reasonable doubt is a good thing, because of the second point that is clear: Mueller (correctly) decided that he lacked the authority to charge President Trump with obstruction of justice, but (and this part is EXTREMELY important) whether or not President Trump obstructed justice, his behavior was unworthy of a President of the United States. This is a correct decision, because fundamentally, America’s system of checks and balances between the branches of the federal government mean that it should be up to Congress to decide the matter. And it’s a good thing for the Democrats that it wasn’t proven that President Trump coordinated activities with the Russians because the Dems now find themselves in a hell of a bind.
In any healthy democracy, President Trump would be out of office by now because, whether one supports all, most, some, or none of his policies, it’s manifestly clear that the United States has never had a President more temperamentally and intellectually unfit for office. But these are not “normal” times and America does not currently have a healthy democracy. We currently have one party embracing socialist nonsense and the other party embracing perhaps the most ridiculous cult of personality imaginable. And now congressional Democrats face a dilemma: They could move to impeach a person who clearly should not be President, fail to remove him from office, and suffer electorally in 2020. Or they could continue to investigate the Trump administration (but not pursue impeachment), focus on policy in the run-up to 2020, and stand a decent chance of keeping the House and winning the Senate and Presidency. Pursuing the first option would be to fulfill their sworn duty to the American people, regardless of the consequences. Pursuing the second option may make us all better off in the end. If President Trump had been proven to have been working with the Russians, the Democrats would face the same risks, but would have almost no other option but to pursue a doomed impeachment. Now, at least they have a choice, no matter how distasteful it may be.
I don’t have a good solution for the Democrats. The patriot in me fears that if they don’t try to impeach, they’ll be participating in normalizing a culture where Presidents are, if not above the law, at least no longer expected to engage in common decency and semi-ethical behavior most of the time. But the practical part of my mind tells me that winning (fairly) matters more and a public rebuke of the ridiculousness going on in the White House now will have more durable long-term benefits for our divided nation. If I were forced to choose at this exact moment, I suppose I would tell the Dems not to impeach, mostly because I don’t have much confidence that they’ll pick a moderate as their Presidential candidate. That, combined with a failed impeachment, would pretty much sound the death knell for their party. The risk of going through impeachment is just higher than any potential reward it may bring about, regardless of the moral implications of inaction. Sometimes you have to sacrifice your soul to save everyone else’s. This looks like one of those times.