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Trust versus Politics: What we should have learned from the Mueller Report

448 pages and all you need to know is 3 things.

Fake news?

It began as a bizarre social media tactic to elevate a candidate and smear an opponent that then evolved into a political strategy to undermine and dismiss unfavorable information and outcomes. More accurately, it was a high stakes gamble to advance personal political gain at the expense of national trust. If the Mueller report taught us anything it is that the bulk of the reporting on the subject of the Russian Probe was accurate. The claims of fake news were the only fake news to be found.

The most interesting thing about the report was that so many of the accounts of the probe were already know. Sure there are many new details and behind the scenes conversations that were easy to imagine but hard to prove prior to the publication. But probably the greatest value of the report was the creation of a well constructed narrative that can help us frame two years of reporting into an accessible reference document.

Unfortunately the claims of fake news were never really intended to claim the news to be fake. The real purpose was to claim that the purveyors of the news are not to be trusted. In this most sinister regard the gamble paid off handsomely. Those organizations in support of the fake news claims want their followers to close the book on the findings and those fighting against those claims want their followers to examine the findings.

With trust broken connection is no longer possible and the idea of "One nation..." is tenuous at best.

"...with liberty and justice for all."

Our nation has struggled with equal justice since its first days. And perhaps that is a quality of its greatness. But on occasion, when it is obvious that our leaders are held to a different standard than are the common citizens, then leadership loses its authority to lead and distrust seeds disobedience.

I believe this belief began to gain traction following the financial crises of 2007-2009. There was only one truth underlying the financial crises, everyone was to blame. From bankers, to borrowers, to brokers, to lawyers and investors of all sizes, everyone put profit before responsibility. But when the accounting was concluded everyone suffered their fair share except those at the top of the banking industry. They may not have been more responsible, but they were certainly equally responsible for the crises that followed and they did not suffer their fair share. In fact, in the years that followed, policy was explicitly designed and implemented that advanced their companies, advanced their wealth and advanced the fortunes of the stockholder class. The financial inequality that plagues our nation is not a product hard work and ingenuity, it is the product of laws and policies that fail to treat everyone equally.

This was one of the first times that everyone got the message. A feeling that was long rumbling in everyone's gut was now given faces, images and voices they could understand. Equality and justice for all is a myth. The politicians in Washington are there to serve those that help them win elections and line their pockets.

And now the Mueller report gives a second damaging peak beneath the covers of our leadership. Regardless of your political predisposition, is it possible to imagine an average citizen of this country not being put in jail for a long time having committed a fraction of the acts documented in this report? Justice is not blind. Justice is not even justice when it happens in plain sight.

National Security

Without any equivocation this report details the unrelenting assault by the Russian government to dictate the outcome of our election. If we are not free to choose those who represent us in Washington then we are not free at all. But national security has not been the central topic of conversation following this report. Politics and personality will dominate our discussion when policy and action are required. The greatest threat to our nation has been exposed for all of us to see and yet nothing of substance will get done.

What we should have learned

If we can't trust those who report the news, if we can't trust our leaders who create the policies and enforce the laws we live by, if we can't trust the integrity of our election results, and if we can't trust those who we send to Washington to keep us safe, then we lack the common ground necessary to call ourselves one nation. Trust is our most fragile commodity. It is so hard to build and so easy to break. Time is not on our side.


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