Mueller Time Reconsidered

A small further reflection on The Resistance, and what might be the most significant of my personal artifacts from the whole thing. It is not a sign or banner or anything physical. It’s a draft e-mail I prepared years ago to summon acquaintances in the event Trump fired Special Counsel Robert Mueller and nationwide protests followed.

The “springloaded” protests were organized by a vast coalition; I don’t know how many people eventually signed up to take part, although I believe it was a lot. I not only signed up, but drafted a personal e-mail to a few dozen people in hopes of reinforcing the potential participation just a bit more, doing my small part.

Looking back, the heavily organized non-event seems to encapsulate a lot of The Resistance.

Maybe it mattered, as a deterrent, sort of? Trump never directly fired Mueller, and the special counsel investigation turned in a damning report. But Trump fired his recused Attorney General, Sessions, right after the 2018 election, clearing the path to interference which certainly did follow.

The indirect attack on the Special Counsel demonstrated one fundamental vulnerability of the broad Resistance: it had to defend everywhere at all times, which as Napoleon said is ludicrous. In this case, after all the organizing around “if Trump fires Mueller,” an exhausted resistance was flummoxed by Trump firing Sessions, and limited protests followed amid divided counsels and objections to using energy in defense of a racist oppressor like Sesh. I didn’t take part and never sent that draft e-mail.

People had also raised questions before that time about the entire Resistance fixation on Mueller himself as a savior, and they seem even more salient now.

The best things that might be said in The Resistance’s defense on this score are that 1) an independent investigation seemed like an important line to hold, since a Trump who could barge across it without consequences could trample anything, we presumed, and 2) the exhaustion from the 2018 midterm campaigns reveals how The Resistance had in practical terms already shifted toward an electoral offense effort.

As regards the former, it still just seems so arbitrary, now. This remains a throughline for the entire ongoing, fumbling effort to uphold liberal democracy against a party of sabotage: despite plentiful attempts at concealment and deception, major abuses happen right out in the open and they don’t seem to matter. The coalitions hold, and combined with bad rules the sabotage party’s coalition is large enough to protect it from really being put out of business. (Which points toward the limitation of shifting The Resistance toward campaigning for Democrats.)

This is a fundamentally maddening reality in which I’m not sure that there are any clear definitely rational paths to follow.

This is one more way in which the local battle over Lakewood Hospital seems like it previewed the larger era which immediately followed. There, too, the biggest outrage was right in front of everyone: people who were supposed to be public servants were planning to shut down a publicly owned charity hospital and give everything away to private parties, and eventually did so. But, while the details aren’t quite the same, the result was. It didn’t matter. Many people’s reaction was to search deeper and deeper in the weeds for some “big reveal” which would somehow trigger consequences which the big obvious issue had not.

This kind of search isn’t invariably fruitless, I think. Relatively trivial technicalities have thwarted great villainy before, e.g. Al Capone’s tax evasion, and many of the same politicians who basically shrugged off the Mueller report later acted to impeach Trump over l’affaire Ukrainienne. I remain unable to see how the latter was more damning than the former, and both certainly seem weedy compared with things like mass child abuse, trying to take away sick people’s healthcare, lining his pockets through corruption, encouraging racism and toxic environmental exploitation, etc.

Once you arrive at a situation where a viable political coalition is willing to accept the abhorrent, a measure of madness seems present whatever direction you take. Rarely will the whole political coalition openly advocate the abhorrent. But when those who won’t advocate or defend it are still willing to deny or dismiss abhorrent reality, the search for a “reveal” which will somehow “pin them down” becomes something of a desperate quest into the irrational, itself.

I still struggle with this, as fights continue over what Trump and those around him are concealing. They’re certainly concealing things—Trump’s desperation over suppressing his tax returns is just one confirmation of this—yet how much attention should I pay to this? I’m skeptical of the center-left belief in some big conspiracy in which e.g. Putin is manipulating Trump and all the Republican leadership and is directing the seemingly ludicrous evolution of “QAnon.” It all seems like a smaller non-fascist alternative QAnon.

But more important, how much would a “big reveal” even matter if it does exist? Given how much the Republican coalition has successfully shrugged off, or turned into “fake news” for millions, or actually made into a “political controversy” in which it’s their acknowledged policy—how can one genuinely have confidence that there exists some secret evidence which they couldn’t overcome?

Unfortunately America is just very, very, very, very sick. In that context, as I have said before and as was also the case with Save Lakewood Hospital, I think the biggest failing of The Resistance was getting started much too late.

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