Common ground: #TrumpRussia

Common ground is series of posts where I work to unpack complicated issues facing Americans and find the common ground where people across the political spectrum can meet.

The issue of Russian interference in our elections last year, and whether or not the Trump campaign was involved, is an explosive story that has taken up a lot of oxygen in the political spectrum. There are many strong feelings regarding this, with some on the left feeling that the election was stolen, and some on the right believing this is just an attempt to relitigate the election.

They’re both wrong.

The left needs to acknowledge that a.) Hillary Clinton was a weak candidate with high unpopularity b.) there was indeed campaign corruption c.) the campaign could have done a much better job at organizing in “safe” states d.) they lost the election and no amount of “BUT RUSSIA” will change that and e.) Trump and/or his campaign may not have colluded with Russia at all.

The right needs to acknowledge that a.) Russia absolutely did attempt to undermine and influence our election, via both disinformation campaigns and messing with the voting processes (which, fortunately, it appears, failed) b.) that this is a problem, even though it benefited their candidate (this time), and it needs to be addressed c.) Trump may have attempted to obstruct justice and d.) Trump and/or his campaign may have colluded with Russia.

Given that, the first piece of common ground is that all Americans—Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, whatever—should be concerned about an attack on the integrity of our elections. We should be working together to upgrade our voting system and dissuade foreign powers from trying to interfere. We need to ensure that by the time midterms roll around in 2018, and certainly by the next presidential election in 2020, Americans have the utmost faith in the voting process.

The second piece of common ground comes back to the headline and involves Donald Trump, his campaign, and their (potential) collusion with Russia. It bears repeating—for Hillary Clinton die-hards—that if it turns out Trump and co. had nothing to do with the election meddling by Russia: tough cookies Democrats. Be less corrupt, have better cyber security, run a better campaign. But if it turns out Trump and co. were working with the Russians, or even silently complicit, there needs to be consequences—namely prosecution of involved individuals and impeachment (if a certain individual was involved).

The third and final piece of common ground is related to how we’re determining how (if at all) Trump and his campaign were involved with Russia. We need to be able to trust the investigation into this issue. And Robert Mueller, the man leading the investigation, is a man we can trust. Just take a look at his history: he served in Vietnam, earning a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart, and two Navy Commendation medals. From there he worked in law enforcement, taking on high profile cases including the prosecution of the notorious Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, and then served as FBI director under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The common ground is that if Mueller determines Trump and/or co. are innocent, Democrats need to be willing to accept that, and if he says they’re guilty, Republicans need to be willing to do the same. And if they can agree on that, both sides should be happy that there is a trustworthy investigation ongoing: the Republicans because they believe it will vindicate their candidate and stop this issue from delaying their agenda any further, and Democrats because they believe it will prove that Trump and co. are indeed unfit to lead the American people.

Now, there have been some attempts to undermine the credibility of Mueller—I’m looking at you, Newt Gingrich and Kurt Schlichter—by people who have a vested interest in Trump remaining in the oval office and selling their conspiracy theory books.

The question is, who are you going to believe? Far-right Trump loyalists peddling conspiracy theories? Or a military veteran who has served his country across party lines with integrity since the 1960s?

Hopefully, the vast majority of Americans will realize Mueller is trustworthy, and will accept the outcome of his investigation, one way or another.

That’s the only way we’re going to put #TrumpRussia to bed once and for all.