By Andrew Tyrrell, Editor-in-Chief
I’m tired. It’s only been a year since Donald Trump took office, but it feels like two terms. It’s just been jam-packed with crap every single day. In an endless news cycle, the Trump presidency has been infinite.
Political debates have become more of a chore than ever. There are still sane conservatives, I assure you. One of them works for this publication, and I am grateful to call him a friend. Our debates are always illuminating, because they’re informed and respectful. The best man at my brother’s wedding, one of my best friends, is another of those unicorns, the sane conservatives. My brother falls into this category, too.
But Trumpism has run so rampant in this country that it’s terrifying. I find myself so frequently quoting that viral Huffington Post article, “I Don’t Know How To Explain To You That You Should Care About Other People.” But there are a few very important things I’ve learned this eternity of a year.
First, is that, despite what Trump has done to the GOP, there is still a very important place for conservative views and values in this country. The two parties are meant to balance each other instead of the ongoing ideological war we’ve all been subjected to. I hope that we can return to civility soon.
Second, that democratic institutions, though flawed in many ways, are good and should be protected.
Third, that, in spite of my oft expressed desire to move to another country, I love this country, and I want to see it get better, which is largely why I’m writing this article.
And fourth, that the truth will be our savior.
So I’m here to discuss the Nunes memo that was just released. Shocking I’m sure that the liberal editor-in-chief of a liberal college newspaper at a liberal state-run university in perhaps the most liberal state in the country would disagree with the decision to release this memo.
But it’s not because I want the Mueller investigation to result in Trump being removed from office. In fact, I hope that Mueller does find no evidence of collusion. The prospect of a foreign country being able to easily influence our elections in such an impactful way is terrifying in a way that is only comparable to the Cold War.
Nor is it simply because this memo is being released by a Republican whom I despise. It’s because it is a clear attack on an institution whose sole duty is the protection of the American people.
The FBI is one of the most important institutions that this country has for defending our democracy and our liberties. Sure, they’ve screwed up plenty of times in the past. The FBI was responsible for the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. By no means are they a perfect organization, but they should also not be torn down by partisan politics.
The FBI released a statement that says that the memo Nunes fought so hard to release is severely lacking in key information. So why release a previously classified document? Why release that document without anything being redacted? Isn’t that kind of dangerous for national security? Why would Trump authorize the release?
These questions aren’t merely rhetorical. The answer to the first two questions is the same as the answer to the last: Because the Trump administration believes this memo can undermine or even stop the Mueller investigation. They don’t care about the implications of releasing it in full. The answer to that other question, about national security, is yes, if you were wondering. Of course it’s dangerous for national security.
How many sources do the FBI and CIA have that are now concerned about sharing vital information with us that are now going to just sit on it because they aren’t sure they can trust our government to not release that to the public? That one is rhetorical because I don’t know. A lot, probably.
This is why Trump is dangerous. Yes, his policies are racist and xenophobic and aren’t likely to do much good for anyone other than the hyper-wealthy. But he is actually a danger to democracy.
Two of the most popular things that autocrats do is they discredit and/or co-opt the press and law enforcement. Trump has been working hard to discredit any media outlet that doesn’t paint him in a favorable light. They’re biased or fake news because they don’t confirm or deny the things he wants.
Here’s a bit of news for y’all: News organizations seek the truth. Sure, some are biased (Fox and MSNBC), and sometimes we get things wrong. But fundamentally, news organizations seek the truth. Sometimes the facts confirm one side of the argument. That doesn’t make it less true because it goes against one set of people’s beliefs.
Federal law enforcement do the same thing as news organizations. They just actually get to arrest people. But Trump is working to discredit them, too. It’s classic authoritarianism. And there’s only one reason: because he’s trying to save his own ass.
Thomas Paine sums it up nicely. “It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry.” Or, if you prefer, “the truth will out.” Try as he may, Trump cannot escape the truth.