Monday, November 4, 2019

The Phantom Meddler

With the Democrats in the House of Representatives having formalized their investigation into impeaching President Trump, well, nothing really changes. Democrats are still more or less convinced that the President is guilty, Republicans are still more or less convinced that he can do no wrong, and everyone else is still left to make their own way. The idea that the impeachment inquiry is leading to a hardening of partisan attitudes supposes that there was still some softness there, and I'm not sure that I buy into that line of reasoning.

I'm also not sure that I believe the criticism that the debate will invite more overseas meddling in the 2020 Presidential election. After all, why bother to meddle when the major political parties are busily undermining the perception of legitimacy in government on their own? Of course, this is based on the presumption that the purpose of meddling is not to suborn a sitting President into becoming some sort of foreign agent. While it's certainly true that a lot of people find President Trump to be a little to friendly with Russian President Vladimir Putin, it's still a long way from there to the idea that the Kremlin is calling the tunes that President Trump dances to. It makes more sense for the goal of meddling in American politics to be simply leaving people with the sense that there was something fraudulent about the election, and therefore, the winner is suspect. And as Democrats and Republicans move more and more from simple disagreement over means to actively believing in the other's bad faith, the idea that an outside party would actually need to do anything for the losing side to shout "foul!" seems more and more naïve. After a point, it kind of seems counter-productive. After all, actual meddling may leave evidence of itself. Simply having people believe that there was meddling (when there wasn't) leaves none. And since to true believers, that lack of evidence can become evidence that the investigators may be in on the plan, one can see how the belief in meddling can do more to undermine faith in the outcome than actual meddling would.

And with the two political parties becoming more and more convinced that the other is an active threat to the nation, many people already have all the evidence they need that something shady is going on.

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