Conservative commentators are already characterizing the Mueller indictments as a nothing burger in terms of how this investigation ultimately will pan out for Trump.
Investigators will turn up no significant evidence of collusion, many contend, and much of what’s discovered ultimately will portend serious consequences for the Clintons, whose allies, the Podestas, seem to be deeply invested in their own version of Russian collusion.
But as millions of deplorables see it, this investigation has amounted to a fishing expedition from the very beginning. And that is precisely why I’ve always regarded it with considerable amount of apprehension from the start. Mueller is likely only getting started, and in time, he may end up nailing Trump on something entirely unrelated to Russia collusion: his business dealings.
Frankly, I’ve never doubted for a moment that Trump is a shady business dealer. I imagine that most New York real estate moguls are. Likewise, I presume that most of his supporters have drawn the same conclusion. But when have rank-and-file Trumpistas ever been interested in his moral or ethical probity, at least, insofar as his past business dealings are concerned?
As I see it, most deplorables understand that we live in singular, if not desperate, times. Many have come to draw a distinction between people who get rich from rather specious market deals (i.e., the Trumps) and those who apparently cash in on government service (i.e., the Clintons). For millions Trump supporters, it simply boiled down to finding a mean, tough avaricious SOB to go mano a mano against all the mean tough, avaricious SOBs who run the swamp in Washington.
To paraphrase an old saying, Trump’s an SOB, but he’s our SOB.
So, what happens if the Mueller investigation turns up little, if any, Russian collusion and nails Trump instead on shady business dealings? I am reminded of Jefferson’s fire bell in the night. This could turn out to be 21st century America’s version of the ill-fated Missouri compromise of 1820, the implications of which sparked Jefferson’s troubling late-night epiphany. Like the Missouri Compromise, a Mueller indictment of Trump on unanticipated grounds could have long-term consequences for American unity. It could set off a train of events that ultimately could lead this country into a deep, dark abyss, much as the Missouri Compromise ultimately did.
Tens of millions of rank-and-file Trump supporters are going to perceive the Mueller investigation simply as what it arguably is: a fishing expedition undertaken by the ruling class to depose Trump – and the election results – so that it can get back to the old business of spreading more lilies and alligators throughout the Swamp.
What will follow? Right-wing retrenchment? Perpetual government gridlock? A wrenching and protracted upheaval of American political structure? Widespread social unrest?
We can be virtually certain of one thing: tens of Americans, certainly in the sprawling red hinterland, will likely emerge from all of this angrier and more cynical than ever.