I am a big critic of President Donald Trump.
Really, a big one. I think Trump has done more to divide America than any president in my lifetime. His Twitter feed is a constant stream of invective against his enemies, real and imagined. He seems to find fissure points within our culture and seize upon them in order to polarize the country for political gain. His rhetoric against illegal Hispanic immigrants is toxic, if not sometimes outright racist. He has attempted to undermine our institutions, most clearly with his attacks on the press as the enemy of the people. He seems more happy rhetorically kicking our allies in Canada and Germany than our adversaries in North Korea and China. He is quite obviously a pathological liar.
That doesn’t mean, as a longtime conservative, I don’t like some of the policies that have been implemented during his presidency. On balance, I think his tax cuts were a worthwhile attempt to spur the economy. His judicial picks are in line with how I think the judiciary should view the law. His stalwart support of Israel is a much-needed corrective to a predecessor who wanted to show daylight between us and our ally. If Trump succeeds in pushing Nicolás Maduro from power in Venezuela, it may be the most significant foreign policy achievement of any American president in well over a decade.
But the president isn’t just the head of a party in this country, he is head of state, That carries unique responsibilities, responsibilities Trump seems entirely uninterested in or incapable of fulfilling. I am also afraid he is doing long-term damage to our institutions – and to what everyone before Trump understood to be the conservative movement.
But the concern about Trump that took top billing on cable news was his weird admiration for Vladimir Putin, both on the campaign trial and in office. His inability to criticize Putin, even as he seemed to have no problem criticizing any one else in American society, from the father of a fallen American soldier to the husband of one of his top aides, was more than a bit strange. His campaign’s contacts with Russia and the deception surrounding them certainly warranted a serious investigation. I still can’t understand why all the lying if there was nothing to hide. In short, the investigation was no hoax.
But after the release of the Justice Department’s summary of the Mueller report’s conclusions this weekend, I hope our nation can move on. According to Attorney General Bill Barr’s summary of the report, Mueller could find no evidence of any sort of collusion between Trump or his campaign and Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. I’d like to read the report in its entirety – and I certainly would reconsider if Barr left important conclusions or facts out of his four-page summary letter – but if that’s the conclusion, that’s good enough for me. It should also be good enough for all Trump’s critics, left and right, who hailed Mueller as a man whose character is beyond reproach – and in some cases, painted him as almost superhuman.
If the Mueller report says what the summary says it does, the calls for impeachment should end. Congress should certainly conduct oversight of the administration, but Democrats should be forewarned: after Mueller’s report on Collusion, a two-year crusade by the House to find impeachable offenses by Trump will only be seen by the American public as the ‘witch hunt’ Trump once unfairly painted the Mueller investigation as, and most likely aid in Trump’s re-election.
None of this is to say we have to admit Donald Trump is a swell guy. He is not. Indeed, if he was trying to negotiate a business deal in Russia up until he expected to lose the 2016 presidential race, it may be one of the most corrupt acts an American president has ever engaged in, even if it is not illegal. He is not a man you would associate with the word ‘integrity’.
But Trump is here to stay for the next two years – quite possibly the next six years. Critics don’t need to love or respect him, but they do need to learn to live with him. We all need to tone down the volume. I know, it takes two to tango and Donald Trump is not a particularly good tango partner in the toning-down-the-volume dance. But we can’t live in this constant cycle for the next two-to-six years where every tweet, every dumb Trump utterance, every use of a Trump property by a foreign diplomat is treated as a DEFCON 1 moment, taking up four hours of special ‘BREAKING’ coverage on cable news.
Trump is president. He isn’t going away anytime soon. America will survive. Who knows, it may even thrive. But please, for the good of the country, for the good your own personal well-being, don’t let Trump destroy your mind.
Jamie Weinstein is the host of the critically acclaimed and creatively named podcast, The Jamie Weinstein Show.