Many people love to concoct grand, elaborate conspiracies to explain the world around them. Instead of realizing they made bad decisions, it must have been some malevolent force out to get them. Instead of recognizing they are surrounded by incompetence, there must be some mysterious force pulling the strings working several steps ahead.
Many people sleep better at night convinced of a malevolent conspiracy of sinister forces running government than realizing government is composed of incompetent bureaucrats protecting their turf. Wouldn’t it reassure you to know your government functions at the hands of an evil genius pulling strings rather than that it is really an idiocracy just trying to keep afloat?
That brings me to the Russians and our election. We know from various text messages from FBI agents that they felt it their mission to investigate and find evidence to stop Donald Trump from becoming president. For those who dismiss the idea of partisanship, look no further than the IRS, which worked to block conservative groups from getting nonprofit status. An internal investigation revealed partisan motivation.
There were partisans involved at the FBI. The question is how much partisanship was involved, and here both Democrats and Republicans have a vested interest in muddying the water in favor of conspiracies. Democrats believe the Russians stole the election from Hillary Clinton. It is far more convenient for them to believe in an elaborate international conspiracy than to acknowledge they bet on a horse that should have long ago been sent to the political glue factory.
Republicans also believe a conspiracy theory. They want you to believe the Christopher Steele dossier was the trigger for a host of attacks on and investigations within the Trump campaign paid for and orchestrated by Democrats. It is far easier to believe that than acknowledge the guy who claims to only hire the best people hired a bunch of people in bed with Russians who did not have America’s best interests at heart.
Barack Obama surrounded himself with people who had so much contempt for their political opponents that every time they made decisions about furthering investigations into Donald Trump, they presumed the absolute worst and made decisions accordingly. Now, Donald Trump has surrounded himself with people who have just as much contempt for the left as Obama’s advisors did for the right. The Trump team presumes the worst about the FBI, the DOJ and everyone else. We have reached peak conspiracy.
The truth is that our intelligence community had signal intelligence clearly showing the Russians wanted to interfere in our electoral processes. Our intelligence officials looked around and saw Paul Manafort and Carter Page were working with Trump and both had ties to Russians. They drew conclusions based on that intelligence. Along came Democrats with a dossier of information suggesting Trump was working with or being blackmailed by the Russians, and the Obama political team overseeing the intelligence community presumed the worst they could about Trump.
Manafort and Page did not stay with Trump through the campaign. It is not really believable that they orchestrated a plot within the Trump team to steal the election. There is no evidence they went outside the campaign to execute the plan. But concurrently, it is true that Donald Trump Jr. was happy to meet with a Russian for dirt on Hillary Clinton. That is not illegal, but it is unethical. The Trump team believed the worst about the Clintons and surely believed the Clinton team would pull out all the stops, too.
We are where we are because both sides believed the worst about the other. The Democrats never thought Trump would win and would rather believe a conspiracy theory than believe Clinton was a terrible candidate. Likewise, the Trump fans would rather believe the FBI was really out to get Trump than believe he made some staggeringly stupid hires and people around him made staggeringly unethical decisions. Forrest Gump was right. Stupid is as stupid does.
To find out more about Erick Erickson and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.