Key leaders of the Democratic Party, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, tried yesterday to keep the corpse of “Russiagate” on life support, even if it was necessary to reverse the burden of proof to do it. It is not difficult to understand the frustration of those who, contrary to all political logic, had bet on the impeachment of Donald Trump before a defeat at the ballot box. But it is becoming much more difficult to unravel the reasons for insisting on a strategy of attrition that has been shown not to work, and which, to the contrary, presents the president as the victim of a progressive conspiracy that shows contempt for the voters’ decision.
Like him or not, Trump was elected president of the United States in a free election, after one of the wildest and most ruthless campaigns in recent memory; all the available weapons from the new communications media technologies were employed to damage opponents. The fact that other outside players entered into the mass media game, with intentions that are unfriendly to U.S. interests, must not make us forget that the U.S.’s own communications media have delivered the most painfully low blows, enthusiastically fueling the wildest lies and insinuations.
In the end, what Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report has shown, after a two-year investigation in which more than 2,800 subpoenas were issued, 500 search warrants were executed, hundreds of communications were intercepted and testimony was taken from 500 witnesses, is that there was Russian interference, that that interference was one more kind of interference carried out during the campaign, and, fundamentally, that the investigation did not find proof or reasonable grounds to conclude that the Trump team conspired or coordinated with the Russian government to undermine the elections.
That Trump has emerged unscathed from prosecutorial scrutiny that was so far reaching and lasted so long is food for thought. Never, at least in recent memory, has a presidential election provoked such a visceral reaction among the losers, to the point of rejecting the legitimacy of the election, as if votes only have value within a predetermined intellectual and ideological framework. But Trump was not a stranger to the majority of voters, and he didn’t conceal his populist and nationalist views in his rhetoric. What is more, Trump prevailed over half a dozen serious Republican candidates, without budging an inch in his arguments.
We believe that in the long run, his protectionist policies, his exploitation of the fears and prejudices of the working class groups hit hardest by globalization and his resort to Manicheism in international affairs will bring more harm than good to U.S. society. But those policies emerged from the confrontation of ideas and programs and it is the condemnation of errors and proposed solutions, not a continuous and suffocating personal attack, many times backed up by simplistic and exaggerated ideas, that ends up wearing down its supporters. The reality is that today Trump is stronger than ever, and he has a good chance of winning a new term next year. The Democrats are going to have to resign themselves to ousting him via the ballot box. That is certainly a lot to think about.