PIQUERO: False links between U.S., Russia must stop
Opinions Column: The Principled Millennial
I want to take this time to reflect on some recent news developments that have been particularly interesting to me as a political junkie but have wide-ranging effects for our country. Ever since the Russian influence in the 2016 election story released and dominated the news cycle, I have been relatively hesitant to write about it in The Daily Targum. My reasons were twofold: One, the facts are largely scattered and incomplete, and I feel a responsibility not to comment heavily on matters that are misunderstood. And two I want to give the benefit of the doubt to President Donald J. Trump and his administration who are presiding during a time of highly polarized political attitudes with the Democratic and Republican establishment wholly at odds with their normal governing style. However, the steady drip of allegations and revelations against specific members of the Trump entourage and the stories complete dominance in the news cycle has made it impossible for me to remain quiet on the subject.
I will preface my piece by stating my absolute commitment to American democracy and the rule of law in this nation. This, of course, includes the important democratic tradition of free, fair and open elections with no foreign interventions of any kind. There is an implicit understanding in our civil society that our political structure is hoisted up by these ideals which the founders carefully implemented in our Constitution. Russia, or any other foreign power who actively tries to undermine this process, needs to be investigated, held accountable and dealt with. I have no qualms whatsoever about our elected politicians pursuing inquiries into Russian involvement. What I have a problem with is the mainstream news cycle and certain public officials condemning Trump and calling for his impeachment. The irresponsibility of the media and the establishment in this premature condemnation before investigations and relevant material being properly analyzed has been nothing short of astounding and, unfortunately, not all too surprising.
My immediate impression of the matter is that I see a ton of smoke and not a lot of fire. Sure, Trump allies Paul Manafort, Roger Stone, Carter Page and Erik Prince meeting with Russian officials may raise warning signs — especially for disheartened establishment politicians upset with Trump’s victory — but nothing substantial has come from the allegations. Jeff Sessions, Jared Kushner and others meeting with Sergei Kislyak, the ambassador to Russia, are suspicious on the surface, but behind the curtain, the story loses its steam. To date, not one investigator, independent or public official, has proven corroboration between the Trump organization and Russia. Instead, as Charles Lipson of Real Clear Politics writes, “The Democrats have deliberately blurred the lines between Russian involvement and Trump collusion, and so have many commentators.” In other words, the Democrats have deliberately conflated the unsubstantiated Trump-team corroboration story and intertwined it with indirect Russian influencing — which has all but been confirmed — in order to confuse citizens who may pay attention to the story.
The obvious end-goal of the Democrats in this pursuit is to paint Trump’s presidency as unwarranted, fake and illegitimate. Don’t take my words for it though, just listen to what newly elected head of the Democratic National Committee Tom Perez said just last week. “Donald Trump, you don’t stand for our values. You didn’t win this election.” This damaging and highly misleading rhetoric serves to own up to the “resistance” mantra and conveys to the American people that the Democratic party's goal is to undermine the administration and its supporters. In this respect, they are taking a cue out of the 2008-2016 GOP playbook by openly dissenting against the current administration and are actively and publicly plotting against the president and his associates for political purposes. As I have tried to convey many times in my columns, both sides of the political aisle are motivated by power. It is perhaps the only thing that unifies both parties. Republicans and Democrats will engage in any tactics, investigations and strategies that enhance their own status, especially at the expense of their constituencies whom they claim to represent.
This is not to say that bi-partisan efforts by Congress should not be made in investigating the potential linkage between the Trump administration and Russia. It also does not mean that the media should abandon its reporting on the topic. I simply intend to demonstrate that media over-exaggerations, false and premature implications by public officials and shameless political power-plays are on full display in Washington, D.C. They should be called out for what they are. If a legitimate link between the two sides is established and confirmed, there will be cause for alarm. Until then, all I see is a lot of smoke, but no fire.
Michael Piquero is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in political science and history. His column, “The Principled Millennial,” runs on alternate Fridays.
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