It’s in vogue to say that chaos has descended upon our public life. The last fortnight has seen an unprecedented convergence of potentially catastrophic events: ticking time bombs, slow-burning fuses and second shoes waiting to drop.
But there will be an end game to the Russian election-meddling issue, the ethical entanglements of the Donald Trump White House and Trump’s firing of FBI chief Jim Comey.
The end game may be months away and it could be anticlimactic or thunderous, but it assuredly will be honest because of the emergence last week of people who have devoted long, distinguished careers to upholding the rule of law. Fortunately for us, they also possess the courage to act upon their convictions despite political pressure to just go along.
We know three of them by name: Comey, Rod Rosenstein and Robert Muller III. Other names may or may not emerge, but many men and women involved in public affairs, particularly the administration of justice, are concerned that America’s binding cement—the belief in a nation of laws, not of men—is being eroded by today’s corrosive political atmosphere.
Comey, abruptly fired as FBI director by Trump May 9, will testify publicly about his experience in trying to carry out an investigation of Russian influence in our elections and any connections with Trump’s campaign. Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein, Comey’s direct boss and a veteran of more than two decades in the Justice Department, unexpectedly created an office of special counsel with broad power to execute and, if necessary, expand the Russian investigation. Mueller, who spent 12 years as FBI director for two presidents and who is universally respected as a person of integrity, agreed to lead the investigation.
Unidentified as yet are other concerned insiders who are feeding a stream of information flowing out of closed rooms and secret spaces. One leak last week involved an internal White House memo chronicling Trump’s Oval Office meeting with a Russian delegation during which he boasted of firing Comey and called him a “nut job.” Another indicated that investigators of the Russian connections have identified someone close to Trump as “a person of interest,” normally a grim portent in legal terms. More will come.
Against this roiling backdrop, members of both political parties are engaged in an intense, selfish calculation: what outcome would best serve my political fortunes?
Some Democrats are reflexively and prematurely calling for impeachment of Trump. Other Democrats, however, believe a continuing chaotic, bumbling Trump administration, despite the risks it presents, would most help them in next year’s elections. They believe that Trump cannot put together a coalition to pass major legislation.
Republicans face the same dilemma, and they have the votes to begin the impeachment process. Wouldn’t it be better for us, some ask, to dump Trump ASAP and, with Vice-President Mike Pence, get on with our conservative agenda before 2018? Others are fearful that Trump could fulfill his threats to rally his 2016 base against GOP rebels.
What’s missing in the internal bickering over political tactics?
How about: The rest of us.
Yeah, yeah, I know: the whole situation makes eyeballs roll and patriotic spirits sag, but this is no time for fainthearted citizenship or surrender to Trump fatigue.
If you could instruct your representatives, what would you tell them to do? Are you sure? Then do it, repeatedly.
Davis Merritt, Wichita journalist and author, can be reach at Dmerritt9@cox.net.