Dad is Not Coming Home to Save America

The whole time I watched the press conference I had Giles' song from Buffy the Vampire Slayer stuck in my head.
The whole time I watched the press conference I had Giles' song from Buffy the Vampire Slayer stuck in my head. Screencap from MSNBC
This week, former Special Counsel Robert Mueller III broke his long silence with a brief press conference. The highlights were these:

1. Russia really did interfere with the 2016 election with specific intent to make sure Hillary Clinton – who President Vladimir Putin was afraid would stop his Doctor Doom plans - lost. “That allegation deserves the attention of every American.”

2. The Special Counsel found insufficient evidence of a criminal conspiracy between the Donald Trump campaign and Russian agents. Whether there was any collusion at all was not stated in the press conference.

3. From his appointment, Mueller was under a Department of Justice mandate that a sitting president cannot be criminally indicted (including sealed indictments). Under that mandate, he felt he could make no accusation or implication of guilt for obstruction of justice as Trump wouldn’t have a court in which to fairly defend himself.

4. However, Mueller was clear that, “if we had confidence that the President clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said that.” The implication being that Trump did or may have done so, and that the rules of the DOJ were what prohibited him from saying that.

5. “The opinion says that the Constitution requires a process other than the criminal justice system to formally accuse a sitting President of wrongdoing.” It is impossible to read that sentence any other way than as a call to Congress to investigate Trump as part of a path toward impeachment, a sentiment that has officially crossed the aisle.

6. Mueller considers the report all the testimony Congress should need and has no plans to testify outside of its findings on “hypotheticals.” He then declared himself a private citizen and we must assume he blasted out of D.C. in a Camaro on two wheels playing Johnny Cash at ear-splitting volume. If I had the constitutional authority to say he definitely didn’t do that, I would.

Ever since Robert Mueller was appointed, he has been a lingering hope that maybe authority would step in and save us from the various corruptions and misdeeds that have been catalogued throughout the Trump Administration. The Mueller Report alone lists 11 potential acts of obstruction and the Special Counsel’s investigation sent multiple officials connected with Trump to prison. Most notably, Michael Cohen is serving time for illegally providing a payoff that Cohen says was directed by Trump.

When the report first came out, Attorney General William Barr’s public take was seized on by the right as an exoneration of Trump, which is inarguably not the intent of Mueller. In some segments of the left, though, there was also glee. In certain parts of the left, there is a terrible nihilism that nothing will ever be done within the confines of the system. Law cannot save us. The Democrats are too beholden to corporate interests to even try. Everything is terrible and the only way to look at any action is with smug satisfaction that the government is too corrupt and capitalist to ever be counted on. It’s the pathetic and annoying mirror image of Reagan’s classic line that the most terrifying words in the English language are “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

The professional dissenters do have one thing right, though: Dad is not coming to save America. Robert Mueller is snidely referred to as a Republican by the nihilistic left, but it's more accurate to say he is an agent of settled law and policy. That is what he derived all his power from, and whatever he was going to do was going to be within the limits of that power or else he would cease to uphold the very principles that defined his status.

The Mueller Report therefore, is designed to go to the people who do have the power: Congress. It is a blueprint and road map that is meant to guide investigations by the appropriate committees into the actions of Trump in order to see if those actions rise to the level of impeachment. The House is clearly heading in that direction. Multiple committees have begun calling witnesses and subpoenaing records based on Mueller’s findings. Speaker Nancy Pelosi deftly (and in my opinion, wisely) avoided the I-word in her most recent statement, but did say Congress will “continue to investigate and legislate to protect our elections and secure our democracy.”

What this means is that action is up to the legislative branch, our branch. Pelosi might be the most powerful woman in America, but she is also just Nancy from California’s 12th District. The very point of the House and the reason the constitution gives it so much power is that it is supposed to be the People’s closest access to policy and power. You can chase senators all over the state, but my representative is just a 30-minute drive from my front door. They’re up for election every two years, making them far more vulnerable to the wants of their constituency.

Mueller’s statement puts the nail in the coffin that anything is going to stop Trump beyond action by the people through their representatives. The courts and the DOJ will have parts to play, but initiative will come only from the House. Any hope that “normal” was going to resolve on its own through official channels needs to be abandoned. Dad is not going to come home and fix this. The metaphorical adults of the country left when Trump took office and installed the most corrupt administration in history. That’s a thing the Russians help achieve, but it’s also a thing we as a people did. It’s like a 20-year-old buying a condo in a floodplain and being stuck with the consequences of climate change.

Undoing the damage will take cosmic levels of energy, engagement, and resources. We through our calls and letters and sit-ins our representatives' offices, will have to stop crying and start ripping out rotten sheet rock. And maybe it won’t even accomplish what we hope. To quote the Bhagavad Gita, “You have the right to work, but for the work's sake only.” Unfortunately, that’s adulthood. Feeling sick to your stomach because things are complicated and hard is what being a grown-up feels like.

Mueller was never going to save America, and I am truly sorry for everyone who hoped he would. All he’s done is shown the path up the mountain. We have to climb it now. Saviors are like Santa Claus; the real magic is what hard things they help us do for others.

Call your bloody rep. Here’s how to find them.
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Jef Rouner is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner