For the sake of our democracy, politicians must stop bickering

For the sake of our democracy, politicians must stop bickering
© Greg Nash

The parallel dramas of the special counsel’s investigation and the federal oversight of the FBI and Justice Department are alarming and revealing, but not in the manner presumed by all the partisan rhetoric.

There are two matters of national interest that need to be worked through, neither of which is partisan in nature. The first is how to respond to Vladimir Putin’s adopted geopolitical strategy of asymmetric warfare. The second is to define the legitimate boundary for our politics. Both have implications to the strength and legitimacy of our democracy. Unfortunately no one is talking, at least in public, about either.

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Instead of addressing the matters of national interest, it seems that we are distracted and consumed by partisan concerns. That’s not to say the partisan scrum can or should be ignored. For practical reasons, it can’t. Far too much hangs in the balance for both sides, and for factions within each side.

Namely, what direction will immigration and border security take? This determines something so fundamental to our country as who is here. Also at stake is whether we will pursue pro-growth or redistributionist policies. Will we strengthen defense? Will we reform entitlements?

Another dimension in the background of these policy fights is whether Trump’s mortal enemies can parlay the investigation into a successful campaign to retake the House and start impeachment proceedings. Will Trump survive the investigation, transcend the political squabbling to connect with the electorate, and lead the Republicans to gains in the 2018 midterms?

If he does, he earns a mandate to keep pushing his disruptive agenda that is threatening to wipe out the establishment from both parties. If he fails, he could be gone. In this context, we are subjected to the increasingly unhinged rhetoric from Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy Patricia D'Alesandro PelosiDemocrats opposed to Pelosi lack challenger to topple her Sinema, Fitzpatrick call for long-term extension of Violence Against Women Act Internal RNC poll shows Pelosi is more popular than Trump: report MORE (D-Calif.), who claims the grinding of oversight committee work amounts to a constitutional crisis. Somebody needs to get her a copy of the Constitution. She adds nothing to the debate, and sensible Democrats should cringe when she speaks.

Then there is the cunning shapeshifter James ComeyJames Brien ComeyDershowitz: Trump's lawyers could force Rosenstein to recuse himself from Mueller probe New York Times defends bombshell Rosenstein report Donald Trump’s Rosenstein dilemma MORE. He pretends to be a virtuous public servant. However, we should not forget he thrashed the integrity of his former office as FBI director. He indulged in election-year politics, a steady diet of misleading the FISA courts on a quarterly basis, and supplemented these official acts with anonymous leaks during the transition and early days of the new administration.

Comey would have us believe he is wagging his virtue-signaling finger when he speaks of “weasels and liars” on Twitter. But, let’s be honest, he is merely setting up what he hopes will be a commercially successful book release. Exhausting, emotional and impassioned, but just politics and commerce.

At a higher plane, we need to have an adult and dispassionate conversation about how we will respond to Putin’s ongoing strategy of asymmetric warfare by which he aims to divide us, inflame tribal passions over common purpose, and thereby diminish our trust in our institutions and in our democracy.

Part of this response will rely on counterintelligence efforts by the very same agencies under the microscope today. Regardless of our revulsion at abuse of the public trust and possibly the law by some of the bad actors referenced in the Republican memo, these counterintelligence efforts will necessarily remain clandestine.

We must also sort through what we accept as the boundaries of our political contests. Is it fine to use the IRS to intimidate or frustrate our political rivals? What about the FBI? Can we accept that political aims or personal agendas take the reins when we are concerned elections might go a different way than we might prefer?

It can be argued J. Edgar Hoover did that for decades, but are we willing to tolerate that sort of thing today? What about the Justice Department? Can it selectively not prosecute political figures they privately favor? If our leaders fail to take a step back from the partisan bickering, and examine and correct for these abuses, then we can expect more abuses, and worse, in the future.

The national interest must always supersede the partisan interest. I for one welcome the conversation and hope people of good will throughout the political spectrum will check their guns at the door and apply their better selves in a search for the best practices in the national interest. The health and well-being of our republic may depend on it, and that is not partisan hyperbole.

Dan Palmer is a Republican donor and conservative political strategist. He served as executive director of United We Stand, planned the potential transition of Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzViral video shows O’Rourke air-drumming to the Who’s ‘Baba O’Riley’ after Cruz debate Five takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's fiery first debate NY Times, McCabe give Trump perfect cover to fire Rosenstein, Sessions MORE, and supported the campaigns of Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyOn The Money: Midterms to shake up House finance panel | Chamber chief says US not in trade war | Mulvaney moving CFPB unit out of DC | Conservatives frustrated over big spending bills Midterms to shake up top posts on House finance panel The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh confirmation in sudden turmoil MORE and Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpSunday shows preview: Trump sells U.N. reorganizing and Kavanaugh allegations dominate Ex-Trump staffer out at CNN amid “false and defamatory accusations” Democrats opposed to Pelosi lack challenger to topple her MORE. Find him on Facebook @RealDanPalmer.