The Mueller rohrshachs along. One pod of pundits proclaims, “Total exoneration.” A coven of commentators ignores any exoneration and points out that the president repeatedly lied and tried to get others to lie. Pusillanimous politicians repeat that there was no collusion with the Russians. A jeremiad of journalists catalogs all the contacts between Trump people and Russians. And so on.
The interpretations, characterizations, and mischaracterizations of the Mueller report fly about, but all ought to home in on the most important part of the report: the Russians interfered in our election. “Interfered,” however, is a polite word, a euphemism. We should label the Russian actions more forthrightly. The Russians attacked us. A fighter plane does not have to be shot down, a literal bomb does not have to be dropped, to be attacked. When the Russians took steps to subvert our election, they attacked us. Conservatives don’t won’t to dwell on this because the Russians were trying to get Trump elected. Liberals seem to gloss over the interference because they feel that they can’t get Trump if he did not overtly collude with the Russians.
We all ought to agree, however, that we need to stop the Russian intervention. You can ask your elected officials whether they think all investigations of the president should stop or whether impeachment procedures should begin, but you should first be asking those who represent you, and asking them again, what measures do they support to lessen the possibility of a Russian attack in our next election? And don’t just address your national politicians. States and localities should also be taking steps for securing our elections, which is to say, securing our Republic. Ask your state and local officials what they are doing to prevent future subversions of our electoral process. The most important takeaway from the Mueller investigation should be that the Russians attacked us, and the most depressing takeaway is that we don’t seem to be doing anything about it.
“A lack of mental agility was not necessarily a handicap in Washington.” Scott L. Malcomson, One Drop of Blood: The American Misadventures of Race.
If the Russians attack us again in 2020, and we seem to be doing little to prevent that, who will the Russians try to get elected? They worked for Trump in 2016, but don’t assume that they will necessarily support the incumbent unless you know why the enigmatic Russians did it. If they affirmatively wanted him, it might only seem natural for the Russians to stay on the same train, but we don’t really know what the mysterious Putin and friends wanted from the reality TV performer. If they haven’t got whatever it was or they have already gotten what they wanted, will they hop off the train? If, however, they helped him not because they wanted to kiss his cheeks but because they adamantly opposed the election of Hillary Clinton, they might not promote Trump in a Clinton-less election. And if the Russians’ goal is simply to weaken the United States by spreading discord in America, who will they hack for? The Russians could conclude that they sowed discontent and a loss of faith in America among those who opposed Trump last time. Thus, they might reason, we won’t produce much new discord by using that strategy again, but those Trump supporters may go ballistic if he loses. So, let’s support the Democratic nominee. And what would be reactions if they did that? It’s a riddle.