August 23, 2019 | 79° F

MEHTA: Dems. should focus on 2020, not Mueller


Opinion Column: Grass Roots


At a time where the sensible world is waiting for some director to say the word “Cut!”, we still live in some denial that this is all a television show, and our reality star President Donald J. Trump is simply attempting to put the Kardashians' ratings to shame. In our most recent episode, the Special Counsel Robert Mueller investigation — a recurring theme throughout our past two seasons — came to a disappointing conclusion for many. What Democrats do not seem to realize, though, is that they now have a chance to end the show. But they are not taking it. 

The Mueller Report was delivered to Attorney General William Barr on March 22. In it, as Barr said, the Report “did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.” While Democrats have spent significant time, media coverage and pushing aside constituent interest to hammer Trump on what this report might have contained, time that could have been spent gearing up for 2020 was wasted. 

Now, we see a primary candidate pool which is continuing to overflow and infighting between the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and the new progressive slate of those in Congress. The only thing Democrats have been united under is that this report should be made public, which is a fair and agreeable position. But, the open divide currently within the party is not something to be proud of. If Democrats themselves cannot figure out their message, how is the American voter expected to? 

Luckily, the Democrats have been given a blessing. The findings of the Mueller Report have given the Democratic Party a chance to focus on 2020 messaging, picking a candidate and creating a platform which helps people. The Party’s push Left, largely to be credited to the 2016 run of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), has led a slate of candidates to refuse corporate political action committee (PAC) money, sign onto Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-N.Y.) Green New Deal and support Medicare for All. Now, the Democrats have been handed an opportunity to continue building. 

This is not to say the attack on Trump should stop, but the direction of the attack should switch. O. J. Simpson was found not guilty in his trial because, in any criminal trial, the defense simply has to provide reasonable doubt for the defendant to get off. While Mueller ultimately did not meet the burden of proof in his findings to unequivocally charge Trump, the back of the American people’s minds will be filled with speculation. This allows Democrats to go back to portraying Trump as an unstable, inexperienced and divisive “leader” who is not good for this country. 

Further, Democrats can now look to targeting and bringing home the base that voted for Trump, not for his divisive message or conservative platform, but because he was not former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. They have a chance to reset and genuinely figure out how to swing the independent faction (that left the post-2016 Democratic primary), anti-establishment voters and, of course, the progressive vote. 

The Mueller Report distracted Democrats and voters from the fact that children are in cages, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos recently planned to zero all funding for the Special Olympics, a black man is more than six times more likely to get arrested than a white man, women continue to face harassment in all contexts while failing to receive equal pay for equal work, it takes two minimum wage jobs to afford a one-and-a-half bedroom apartment in the U.S. meanwhile and Sears’ executives took $25 million dollar bonuses while laying off workers and cutting their benefits. 

The prospect of impeachment is one good for television, but this is not a television show. We are living in pure reality, no matter how distorted it seems. Mueller has handed Democrats a blessing, and with that, handed the population of America a blessing as well. It is in the best interest of the Democrats to recognize this and shift focus to 2020. 

Rishi Mehta is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in political science and English. His column, "Grass Roots," runs on   alternate Mondays.

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Rishi Mehta

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