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How Will People Handle the Truth?

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This piece will be appearing in the newspapers of my very red congressional district, VA-06. It exemplifies the recent escalation in how challenging I’m making my messages to the conservatives in the area.

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In the film A Few Good Men, the character played by Jack Nicholson delivers the famous line: “You can’t handle the truth!” We may be arriving at a moment in the foreseeable future where many Americans will be facing the challenge: how able are they to handle the truth?

Because of how I see our nation’s current crisis, and specifically the ongoing showdown between President Trump and the Mueller investigation, I’ve been spending hours every day studying the emerging picture of the Trump circle and its leader, the President.

Although there’s plenty left to learn, already the evidence I’ve seen is quite strong, and there’s more than enough of it to fill half a dozen volumes. Based only on the information already available to the public—as uncovered by the nation’s top investigative reporters, as well as disclosed through the court filings growing out of the investigation by the Special Prosecutor— even the incomplete picture is quite revelatory. And quite dark.

Based on the already publicly available evidence (related to the questions of obstruction of justice, collusion with Russia, self-serving corruption, financial crimes, and a few other arenas of likely wrong-doing), I would not hesitate to bet serious money on the following proposition:

Historians of the future will be basically unanimous in declaring Trump’s scandals and crimes and wrong-doings to be — by far — the worst of any American presidency in the nation’s history.

They will say the Trump presidency’s corruptions went well beyond those that tainted the Grant administration (1869-1877) or the Harding presidency (with it Teapot Dome scandal in the early 1920s).

And these future historians, I would wager, will say that, as profound as the Watergate crimes were in the Nixon presidency, they pale compared to the crimes of Trump and his circle.

I don’t expect Trump supporters to believe all that, but that is my honest and strongly-held belief, based on examining these matters intensely for more than a year.

Given that belief, I’ve been wondering: when the dust has settled on the history of this unfolding tale of crime and scandal, how will Mr. Trump’s present supporters deal with what has been revealed?

(At this writing, it is uncertain just what more Trump might yet do to kill the investigation. But regardless of what Trump does, Mueller’s report will find its way to the nation one way or another. And what it will show cannot, once shown, be unshown.)

There are several different ways that I can envision those who have supported Trump’s presidency dealing with the uncomfortable and challenging position that these coming revelations will place them in.

Some will look clearly at the evidence presented, and – bowing to the reality – immediately withdraw their support.

Regrettably, it’s doubtful that will be a majority of Trump supporters. President Trump and the right-wing media have worked for months now to make such a response unlikely. And it appears their efforts have been successful.

With a raft of dishonest insinuations, Trump and his allies have sold their followers on the false story that this is a “witch hunt,” and that whatever is eventually disclosed will be “fake news.” And having been forewarned by Trump and Fox that whatever Mueller (one of America’s straightest of straight-arrows) reports is a pack of lies, these people will avoid looking carefully at the evidence.

If the findings about Trump’s conduct result in his removal from office, I expect that many Trump supporters — having believed the right-wing smears against federal law-enforcement — will feel outraged. Outraged because they’ll believe that they’ve been robbed of their rightful President.

At least, that’s how many may respond in the short run. As the years go forward, however, many of those people will gradually let go of the false picture they had bought into.

People will resist the truth presented not only because of how ugly it will be but also — for those to whom Trump had seemed their hero — how painful. But over time, the power of the case presented will eventually erode their resistance.

This investigation is really a class act, and the group Mueller has assembled a true “Dream Team,” the cream of the law enforcement world. Which means that the canvas of wrong-doing and corruption and betrayal of the constitutional order will have been painted so brilliantly and powerfully by Mueller’s team that the ugly picture will become part of the national understanding.

As the distance in time increases, and the pain diminishes, the general national consensus will gradually sink into the minds of many who — at first – insisted in not seeing what had been revealed about this President.

The history of such things – on other times and places – suggests that some Trump supporters will never accept what’s shown.

But others will cope differently, as the consensus from the surrounding society seeps into their minds. What I’ve read of other dark times in history suggests there will be some people among the Trump 37% who will claim that they never were for Trump—and they may even come to believe that claim. “I knew all along he wasn’t the kind of man who ever should be President.”

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Andy Schmookler — the Democratic nominee for Congress in 2012 in Virginia’s 6th District— is the author of a new series, “Press the Battle: Fighting for the Soul of America(ns).”

  • RobertColgan

    Andy,
    You DO know that there are still MILLIONS who glorify Ronald Reagan* as one who should replace at least one of the images on Mt Rushmore, right?

    *Busted America’s unions for good, raised military spending into the stratosphere, championed corporate greed, cut food programs/Medicaid/the EPA/federal education spending, created the Savings and Loans crisis, tripled the national debt, sicced National Guardsmen on Californians, worsened considerably through trickle-down economics the disparity between rich and poor, increased homelessness, created the War on Drugs, ignored the AIDS crisis, secretly channeled gun money into the Contras in Nicaragua, etc.
    He is beloved.