Russia Wins

On May 29th, Robert Mueller, Special Counsel of the Department of Justice told us: “If we had confidence the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.”

It was a truth we already knew.

Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) expressed it in concrete terms: “I think it’s really important that we do our job as a Congress, that we not allow misconduct to go undeterred. That we not just say, someone can violate the public trust and that there are no consequences to it…”

Amash notes that reaching the conclusion that Trump needs to be impeached only required two things: taking his oath of office seriously and reading the Mueller Report. He is “confident that if you read Volume II, you’ll be appalled at much of the conduct,” and I agree. There is no means by which one can take their oath seriously and reach any other conclusion. There is no doubt about the findings in the report.

To Mueller and Amash I owe a debt of gratitude. I hope that they do not carry the weight of regret in the future—it is the citizens who must own the irresponsibility that we—as a whole—needed to do more. But it is not necessary to give up; as clear as it is that Trump has committed crimes, and that he is unlikely to face consequences from spineless elected officials, there is power in the hands of the people.

Mueller and Amash have reminded the public and placed emphasis on the truth: Russia attacked American democracy on behalf of Donald J. “I love Wikileaks” Trump.

Since Mueller noted that the Department of Justice cannot indict a sitting president, there is only one option if we don’t believe any president should be above the law: impeachment proceedings.

Sadly, Republican cowardice is so great that Amash will face reprisals for an insistence on doing the right thing. The Republican Senate has promised to fail the public on articles of impeachment, Lindsey Graham (R-SC) vows“it would be disposed of very quickly.” But his concession to Russia, and the threats to those willing to stand up for what is right should not cause us to lose hope.

The praise Amash deserves, and he is receiving standing ovations, for proclaiming the importance of serving the public trust is because it comes at personal cost. Toeing the Republican line is easy and comes with rewards, there is incentive for supporting the Russian attack. Lindsey Graham, for example, used to defend the US in the face of Trump’s lunacy, but he became a traitor when he saw opposing Trump was hurting his numbers. The praise comes from a willingness to make sacrifice.

Russia has won, but it is not a permanent defeat of American democracy unless we forfeit. There are still a handful of representatives presenting moral fiber and the courage to act, but, more importantly, there are millions of outraged citizens. Believe it or not, this is a formula for success!

Russia’s victory in installing its preferred candidate is but a single victory in a much larger struggle. The US can win through organized resistance.

The truth is that real positive change can be produced through strong moral commitments from small minorities. Evidence provides robust proof of this point, Erica Chenoweth, Professor of Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School, has found the 3.5% rule—“the notion that no government can withstand a challenge of 3.5% of its population without either accommodating the movement or (in extreme cases) disintegrating.”

The track record of nonviolent struggle scares the right. This is why violence is so frequently promoted. Hate crimes are up under the Trump administration, etc… Extremist chatrooms are full of discussions of another civil war… But, We the Peoplewield power through the practice of nonviolence, and there are too many examples to list them all: Civil Rights in the US; the People Power Movement in the Philippines led to Marcos’ resignation; the Protest on Rosenstrasse opposing Nazi Germany; the Rose Revolutionousted Eduard Shevardnadze in Georgia; the Velvet or Gentle Revolution in what was then Czechoslovakia; this year the presidents of Sudan and Algeria stepped down because of nonviolent resistance…

Citizens, it is time to fight back. We must look to the wisdom of our heroes—Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, and Martin Luther King Jr., and more—and commit ourselves to the causes of justice. We must unite in our demands that Donald Trump is not above the law despite the refusal of our elected officials to live up to our oaths. We must support each other. The cost for inaction is clear, complete defeat at the hands of Vladimir Putin’s Russia, all of our freedoms hang in the balance—we cannot give up!

Wim Laven has a PhD in International Conflict Management, he teaches courses in political science and conflict resolution, and is on the Executive Boards of the International Peace Research Association and the Peace and Justice Studies Association.