Sydney Tindell-King

Last Friday, a redacted version of the Mueller report was released to the public. Although the Trump administration is lambasting in the President’s “innocence” surrounding the charges of conspiracy, Robert Mueller specifically laid out 10 instances in which the President may have obstructed justice. In the report, the constitutional duty of Congress to investigate these matters is laid out.

It also must be stressed that about 14 other inquiries within Mueller’s investigation have been recommended to other places, and we only know of two of them, so the Trump administration may not be safe from other investigations.

However, in order for Congress to properly investigate possible obstruction by the President, they must have access to an un-redacted copy of the Mueller report in order to ensure they have every possible bit of information. If the redacted report is the only thing the public ever sees, then so be it, but Congress needs to view the full report in order to make the assessment.

As of right now, the full report has been subpoenaed and Robert Mueller has been called to testify before Congress.

A few hours after the report was released mid-Friday morning, House Representative Steny Hoyer went to the media and declared that impeachment is essentially not worth it. His argument was that there is an election in 18 months and it would be in the best interest of Democrats to focus on beating him that way as opposed to a long, drawn-out political impeachment process.

First of all, there is no way that Hoyer was able to read that entire 448-page document document in the few hours of its release before making a media appearance. Secondly, why is going to the press the first order of business here?

Representative Hoyer could have been thoroughly reading the document, consulting with his colleagues, or arranging for more information relevant to the investigation. But he chose to go to the press a couple of hours after the report was made public to declare impeachment a waste of time.

Hoyer is not the only member of Congress who has said something similar. However, there is good news.

Presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren has declared the need to open impeachment proceedings into Trump. AOC, Rashida Tlaib and Al Green have signed onto an impeachment resolution already.

If Congress does not further investigate this matter that has seriously criminally implicated the President, then what is the impeachment process even for? Our system of checks and balances was implemented to solve problems just like this one, and Democratic leadership does not want to pursue it because of bad optics? Because it may be a lengthy process or Trump and Co. will complain about it?

These risks are inevitable and they are worth it.

When elected officials are under criminal investigation or are criminally implicated, people often like to make the argument that the people will decide in elections and that’s the litigation. The problem with that argument is that it assumes that everyone is thinking rationally on this matter.

Trump’s most fiercely loyal supporters are not changing their minds no matter how many crimes he’s committed or that any of them are proven. He was not joking when he said he could shoot someone and not lose his base.

When candidates have a large cult following and are able to convince a large number of people that the press is lying all the time and that they and their allies (i.e. Fox News) are the only ones telling the truth, people flock to that confirmation bias. There are people who genuinely do not believe the rule of law applies to Trump or really anyone who is rich, white and yields political power.

But if that person is a Democrat and especially if their last name is Clinton, all of a sudden crimes do matter.

Just because people elect someone does not mean that expunges them from criminal charges. No one is above the law, even if they can convince a large number of people of their innocence.

Trump is a mentally unstable, narcissistic, trust-fund baby who is implicated in crimes relating not only to obstruction of justice, but also campaign finance violations, tax fraud, emoluments and possibly more. For Congress to not even want to try to bring him down would be a mistake of large magnitudes.

The Mueller report lays out specifically what Congress’s role is taking the next steps, but I fear that we do not have strong enough leadership to handle this task.

The American people elected a Democratic House majority in 2018 to send a message to the Trump Administration that we take the principles of checks and balances seriously. Ignoring their duty as elected officials is shameful and anyone who wants to mitigate the severity of this issue deserves to be voted out in the primaries.

Another major issue on everyone’s radar even though it is very early is the 2020 election. On the Democratic side, we have 19 candidates that have been announced.

The one message I need to convey before the 2020 primaries and the elections is for the American people to not fall for a candidate because of charm or personality.

Now, I understand people wanting a well-spoken, kind-hearted President after nearly four years of Trump.

But the most important factors of electing someone in 2020 at this point are their policies and whether or not they can beat Trump in a general election.

Just another reminder that a lot can happen in the next 18 months including the Democrats deciding to move forward with impeachment or the conclusions of other Trump related investigation.

I’m already seeing people ready to cast votes for candidates like Pete Buttigieg or Beto O’Rourke. To be fair, I am interested to see the debates and how the candidates will stack up against each other, but I have to issue a warning to everyone who is already sold on the niceties of these candidates without fully knowing what they believe in.

Buttigieg has an uncanny ability to speak in front of others with a message of unity. He comes from a faith-based background, and I admire him using those convictions to support leftist policy. However, the speeches he makes are often filled with empty platitudes and no substance. O'Rourke is the same way.

It is also possible that people will get duped by Joe Biden, and I have no doubt that his messaging strategy will not revolve around policy. I predict that Biden will spend much of his time speaking about the Obama administration's successes and how Trump has stirred divisiveness.

The American people need and deserve a president who will take on the corrupt nature of the Trump administration. They also deserve a president who will meet their needs and not the needs of the wealthy donors’ politicians often cater to.

We need a president that will address the issues middle America faces and those that are struggling under Trump’s policies.

Millions of people are un-insured or under-insured when it comes to healthcare, the Trump tax bill primarily benefitted the wealthiest in the country while wages remain stagnant and above all, it is possible that will we see a recessionbefore the 2020 election as well.

There is more at stake than the Democratic establishment wants to admit. Here is my biggest piece of advice going forward trying to navigate through 2020 noise: Let go of the false perception that electing good people to office is the only winning strategy.

Many on the left seem to think that if we elect someone nice and good to office, it will solve all of our problems.

The truth is that we have systemic problems that structure the way our country works. Whether it be the criminal justice system, campaign finance or the way tax law is written, there are deeper issues than who occupies a seat, and we need real solutions to these problems going forward.

We cannot keep watering flowers while leaving the roots dry. Several candidates have detailed goals and want to fix these systemic injustices we face that are all a matter of political will. You’ll often find that those candidates are good people as well, so we can most certainly have it both ways.

If there is one point from my column that I would most like people to take away from reading it, it is that policy matters above all else.

There will be scare tactics and empty feel-good speeches galore in the next year and a half, but if we want the real and effective change that is desperately needed, then the most important question we should ask these candidates is not who they are, but what they stand for.

Sydney Tindell-King is a second-year graduate student studying journalism & electronic media. She can be reached at stindel1@vols.utk.edu.

Columns and letters of The Daily Beacon are the views of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Beacon or the Beacon's editorial staff.

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