Perhaps because our political realm is now filled with lawyers who are trained in the adversarial process of discourse and perfectly comfortable with concealing or shading the truth to win their case, America’s leadership class now conducts our nation’s business with a maximum of strife and a minimum of common sense. The results have been exactly what one would expect.
Many who seek our attention and our votes have grievances that they hope to leverage into power and money for themselves and their supporters, few seem to care for the good of our nation as a whole, and lies and exaggerations are the weapons of choice. This is obviously no way to protect and preserve our nation or conduct the business of governance, but to question the utterly dysfunctional status quo that is now our daily reality apparently marks you as a domestic terrorist or, according to President Biden, a white supremacist.
It’s like some demented version of a Sonny and Cher song:
The grift goes on.
The grift goes on.
Drums keep pounding nonsense to the brain
Of course it must be remembered that politics has, in America and elsewhere throughout recorded history, always been a very, very dirty business. World history teaches us that it was once considered perfectly acceptable to murder your political opponents, so we should at least be thankful that assassination is still frowned upon in America, but this is perhaps a case of being grateful that our nation’s leaders are only mostly crazy—instead of completely nuts. It’s really not much of a comfort.
However, there is more than one way to kill your political opponents, and the recently released Durham Report that pulled back the curtain on the elaborate—and incredibly effective—Russiagate hoax used to bludgeon Donald Trump and cripple his Presidency with rumor and innuendo is a frightening commentary on the extraordinary collusion between elected officials, government bureaucrats, and journalists to bring down a duly-elected Chief Executive because he advocated policies deemed by insiders to be outside their preferred norms.
Understanding that politics is a bare-knuckle business, I do not agree with those who characterize political dirty tricks as treason. Successful politicians are unashamed of the duplicity that allows them to gain advantage over their opponents, and we must accept that the bullies make the rules on this particular playground. This Darwinian political morality, as distasteful and disturbing as it might be, equips our nation for standing up against our enemies and frenemies around the globe because we are better off with crooks instead of choirboys going eyeball to eyeball with our opponents when tough negotiations are necessary. Nice guys finish last in this bloodsport.
There is, however, a line that should never be crossed in American politics: using the courts and law enforcement to punish your electoral opponents. If the cops become the storm troopers for one party or another, no matter how good they think their reasons are for ignoring the rules of our system of justice, the legitimacy of the government as a whole is called into question.
Politicians can (and do) lie as part of their jobs; prosecutors and police cannot be permitted to do so. When the cops become the criminals, the checks and balances of our Constitutional system of government crash and burn.
The Durham report should not be subject to the same blind partisanship that characterizes so many of our discussions today. Questions about the actions (and inactions) of the Department of Justice and FBI are worthy of our concern. We expect politicians to be held accountable at the ballot box, but the integrity of our government is open to legitimate question when the laws governing our nation are capriciously enforced.
If we want Americans to respect the policies of our government, the conduct of state and federal law enforcement must be beyond reproach. Handing the keys to our democracy to clever liars and glib scam artists trades away the most precious component of our political system: the sometimes strained trust of our frustrated (yet still amazingly loyal) citizenry.
The damage caused by a bad politician can be fixed by the voters (as long as the election is fair); the damage done by a bad cop is not easily or readily repaired.
Whatever one’s political, cultural, or social leanings might be, every American must support legitimate and thoughtful inquiries into the conduct of our agencies of law enforcement. To fail to do so would be a disaster.