Editor’s Note: The Lake Geneva Regional News presents “Party Lines,” a monthly discussion of political issues featuring side-by-side guest columnists from the local Democratic and Republican parties. The column below represents one side of this month’s discussion. Click here for the other side.
Our political culture is now all about power.
Congress is broken in the sense that our lawmakers care more about winning power and keeping their power than investing in our country and our people.
A critical mass of elected officials no longer want to compete with and defeat the other side on a level democratic playing field. They want to destroy the opposition party.
This is why we see things like gerrymandering, voter suppression laws, and the blocking of Supreme Court nominations. They want to change the rules so they never lose.
Our founders gave the legislative branch of government oversight over the operations of our government so neither an individual nor a political coalition can remake our society in ways that are less communitarian, less equal and less democratic than they intended.
Our current president has shown contempt for governmental processes and for the democratic allocation of power. When members of Trump’s campaign and his cabinet were found to have had contacts with our Russian adversary and were not forthcoming about this, an investigation ensued.
The special counsel’s investigation has exposed the intersection of presidential campaigns, campaign finance laws, and foreign lobbying. An international conspiracy was not found, but this should not obscure that crimes did occur, including campaign finance felonies, tax fraud, bank fraud, insurance fraud and money laundering.
The question of obstruction of justice remains open pending the publication of the Mueller report. The Mueller inquiry does not take the president down as some had hoped, nor does it exonerate him. Given what we know about the campaign’s contacts with Russia, the details of the full report could still be very concerning.
It should cause us to get more serious, more engaged and more focused on any abuse of power anywhere in our government. There will be calls to turn the probe around and examine the genesis of the investigation.
It must be remembered that the Russians hacked Democratic emails and gave some Trump associates advanced word they would be released. The Russians also mounted a large-scale social media effort to boost Trump and damage Hillary Clinton. Those associated with Trump welcomed the help and did not notify federal authorities of a foreign adversary’s interference.
Trump openly invited Russian hackers to attack the Clinton email server, which they did. Trump associates had 102 contacts with Russians, many of which were lied about.
An investigation of this behavior was appropriate. It is far better to conduct investigations such as these, which provide information hidden from public view, so that no one in government is allowed to operate above the law.
It appears that this investigation was not undertaken by a “Deep State” partisan warrior, as some have alleged. It was done by the book and conducted narrowly, not delving into Trump’s assaults on decency and abandonment of presidential norms associated with his office.
Mueller accomplished what our founders intended in examining if political operatives had abused power to the extent that our republic was endangered.
Trump has warned that his supporters in the police, military, and biker groups might get “tough” if his political foes try to force him from office, adding that what would follow “would be very bad, very bad.”
The Mueller investigation has paid the American system of government and its citizens the compliment of trusting the people to solve the issue of assaults on our democracy, not partisan politics. Eighty-four percent of voters say the Mueller report should be released to the public.
Nothing in the special counsel regulations authorizes the attorney general to pass judgement. It is for Congress and the people to decide if those who have the power to keep our republic safe are doing so.
The ballot box provides the opportunity to give power only to those who will not abuse it for personal or political gain.
Jerry Hanson of Elkhorn is a member of the Walworth County Democratic Party.