Whistleblower reports, classified information, secret files, national intelligence: it’s like we’re all extras in a spy movie.
For years, Americans who care about America have been worried about evidence showing that Russia interfered with the 2016 elections. The larger concern, of course, is that Russia or other foreign nations may have interfered with our election at the behest of a particular candidate. There’s evidence, but it never seems like enough. And, apparently, intent matters. We know Trump asked Russia to interfere; he did so on national television. But some people seem to believe that Trump didn’t know any better. Maybe he was just joking, they said. That was then.
Now Trump has spent the better part of his presidency denying collusion and wrongdoing. He can’t claim to be joking when he asks a foreign government to dig up dirt on his opponents, which is exactly what he did when he asked newly elected Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the Bidens.
I’m not surprised that Trump claims his phone call is no big deal. The man lies as easily as he scarfs down fast food “hamberders.” But what is wrong with the rest of the Republican party? Honestly, if a Democratic candidate or elected official called the president of Ukraine and said, “hey, we might be able to send you some help, but first can you give us some dirt on Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham,” Republicans would be doing backflips through the halls of Congress in an effort to take down any Democrats involved in those negotiations. And they’d be right to do so. So what possesses them to support a man who thinks nothing of buddying up with foreign officials to take down his fellow Americans?
I am mystified by the spell Trump seems to have cast on these people. I’m not talking about the racist, misogynistic, angry minority that makes up his “base.” I’m talking about all of the so-called reasonable conservatives who hope to continue with a political career post-Trump. Surely there is some value in calling out corruption, even in your own party. Surely, it is better to be on the right side of American history than in bed with a blatant criminal.
But maybe not. Maybe we have reached the point where we discover that democracy is not so stable. Perhaps the American dream is done and we are waking up to a nightmarish future of authoritarianism and corruption. Perhaps Trump is not a gross anomaly, but the new norm.
This is not a spy movie. The bad guys are not living overseas and plotting to overthrow the government. This is a horror movie and the bad guys are already inside the house. God help us, we invited them in. The only remedy is to cleanse the House of evil spirits. Also, the Senate. And, most of all, the White House. I hope we’re not too late.