Treating political depression

Well before the Mueller Report was completed last week, you already knew that Donald Trump was doing enormous damage to this country.  You don’t need any additional reasons to work against his re-election.

Take a couple of days, if you must, to get over your disappointment that Jared and Ivanka weren’t marched off in handcuffs.  A finding of collusion was always a long shot.  An actual smoking gun was from the start more a pipe dream than a realistic outcome.  As Americans, we should be relieved if the president didn’t engage in treason.

And, by all means, be skeptical about William Barr’s summary of the Mueller Report.  The appropriate level of cynicism is well-expressed in Andy Borowitz’s joke about Barr reading Moby Dick and not finding any whales.

Then, and it needs to be soon, pull the covers off your head and continue the fight.  Nothing is inevitable, but hard work and determination are essential if we are to, in the words of Ben Franklin, “keep our republic.”

Donald Trump is an awful president, a mean-spirited human being and a real threat to democratic values.  The case for opposing him does not require findings from the Mueller Report or, for that matter, from any congressional investigation.  The case against Donald Trump is in plain view and has been clear from Day 1 of his presidency.

If you weren’t sure before, all doubts should have vanished as you watched his reaction to Barr’s summary letter.  Rather than treating it as a time for healing and moving on, Trump seems determined to settle scores, seek revenge on all who have criticized him and wage war on his opponents.  The most disturbing consequence of the Mueller Report is that it seems to be emboldening Trump to be less restrained, less constitutional, less willing to consider any views other than his own.

His loyal band of enablers–I originally had a much stronger term, but decided to keep the PG rating of this blog–is cheering him on.  Lindsey Graham, who we once believed had a shred of integrity, Sean Hannity, who has never given that appearance and their comrades-in-arms can be relied upon to encourage Trump’s extremism.  And sadly, Trump supporters in the public are also going to think they have been given license to attack the press, demonize all Democrats and block out all “news” that doesn’t correspond to their pre-existing beliefs.

The next couple of years are going to be harder and more painful than the past two have been.  To fight the depression that will come from living in a version of our country that gets uglier and uglier, there is only one remedy and that remedy is sustained and focused political involvement.

Don’t waste your energy on the early intramural battles among Democratic presidential candidates.  They will eventually get sorted out and there will be a single candidate to unite behind.  Will the eventual nominee be too moderate for you?  Too liberal?  Get over it.  You can’t possibly believe that Trump could be preferable to that nominee whoever he/she may be.  And don’t you dare stay home on Election Day.

Meanwhile, there is so much important work to be done in all those other races that Democrats have for many years ignored. Take note how much better things are now that Democrats control the House of Representatives.  Remember those feuds about whether Nancy Pelosi had the right stuff to be Speaker in these troubled political times?  At this moment, Speaker Pelosi is the best thing going in terms of restraining an out-of-control president.  And she is bringing along other Democratic Representatives formerly unwilling to take a stand.

Imagine if Democrats controlled both the House and the Senate.  That will happen if enough people get out and vote in 2020.  There are plenty of other things you can do to make a difference in the political climate as well as for your own mental health, but the most powerful weapon you hold is your vote. Use it.

For too many years, Democrats have failed to realize that state governments control many of the issues that are most important to our daily lives. Republicans recognized decades ago that by winning state elections they could control legislative districts, disenfranchise voters and impact the many policy areas determined largely at the state level.  School funding.  Healthcare.  Environmental protection.  Gun laws.  And the list goes on.

Rather than itemizing all the ways in which Donald Trump is doing great damage to our country, I’ve focused instead on what we as citizens can do to regain control of our destinies.  Trump will continue to do things that outrage and depress us.  We can’t give in to those emotions.  To paraphrase, we are better than that only if we fight back and take action.

Bob Mueller is ancient history.  We need to write our own future.