The Russian Connection? It’s Not a Distraction.

I see a lot of folks saying don’t get distracted by the Trump’s “craziness” and / or the investigations of his connection to Russia when the Republicans in Congress are about to pass a series of horrible pieces of legislation.

It’s certainly important to keep fighting against all that legislation, especially, the attacks on the ACA and Medicaid which will lead to to thousands of premature deaths and enormous ¬†suffering if they are successful.

But…

1. That the President of the United State might have conspired with a foreign power to take power is not a distraction from more important issue. If Trump did what many suspect, he betrayed the core of political life, our republican form of government. Everything else we care about, including our freedom, the future of the earth, and economic justice depends on protecting that form of government. The mere possibility that Trump conspired with Russia is reason enough to hold a thorough investigation. If that investigation reveals a conspiracy, that is reason enough for him to be removed from office.

(And yes, I know that makes Mike Pence president. But, as I’ll point out soon, that’s not the only possible outcome. And regardless of whether Pence is more or less dangerous–my guess is that he’s less dangerous to world peace and more so to the social safety net, ¬†again the worst thing we could do is let serious corruption of our elections go unpunished.)

2. Trump is not crazy at all. He’s deliberately throwing up smoke-screens to distract from the investigation of that possible conspiracy. The “crazier” he gets in doing that, the more reason we have to believe that the 2016 election was corrupted.

His “craziness” works with many of his follower. But eventually, a lot of the people who voted for him will get tired of this act, especially as his charges become wilder.

3. Attacking the legitimacy of the Trump presidency does not get in the way of stopping the Republican agenda in Congress, It is part of stopping it. The Republican agenda on many things, such as ACA repeal, is stalled because the Trump White House is providing almost no leadership to Congress. And that’s in part because Trump doesn’t know how to lead Congress or even where he wants to lead it and in part because he is distracted by the continual attacks on his legitimacy and threats of investigation of the Russian Connection. It is also stalled because members of Congress are themselves distracted by the continued revelations about the Russian connection and by Trump’s “crazy” responses.

The longer Congress delays in acting on key issues, and the closer we get to 2018, the less likely it is to take radical action on domestic policies. Many of the radical things the Republicans want to do are only possible if they can pass a budget reconciliation bill that includes those radical ideas. That is getting harder rather than easier as we get closer to the election and as we ramp up our opposition.

Moreover, every Trump appointment, especially to the Supreme Court is undermined when the legitimacy of his presidency is called into question.

So keep your eye on what Congress is doing but also keep up the demand for a bi-partisan Senate and House investigations of the Russian connection. They are connected.

4. The most important thing in achieving our goals in Congress is to win a large number of seats in the House and hold on to as many as possible in the Senate (as 2018 is a very difficult year for us in the Senate.) The more people come to doubt the legitimacy of the Trump presidency, the more inclined they will be to vote for Democrats in 2018. And that election has already begun. Right now, potential candidates are being recruited to or deciding to challenge incumbents in Congress. They are raising money. Whether a lot of Congressional districts are in play in 2018 will be decided by the end of this year.

So we have to move on a lot of tracks at once. We all don’t have to focus on everything. But we all have to support what we are all doing and not demand that everyone focus on our own highest priority. There are lots of priorities and a division of labor among us is useful

I know it’s difficult. But that’s what resistance looks like.

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