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The Mueller Report Was Never Going to Save Us. We Must Fight Collusion Ourselves.

"Our present crisis is much bigger than Trump and his mendacity. It goes to the very heart of who we are as a nation."

Special counsel Robert Mueller (C) leaves after a closed meeting with members of the Senate Judiciary Committee June 21, 2017 at the Capitol in Washington, DC. The committee meets with Mueller to discuss the firing of former FBI Director James Comey. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Emboldened by his attorney general’s summary of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s still-embargoed report, President Trump has shifted from his oft-repeated defense of “No collusion!” to an offensive against the investigation that he has always dismissed as a “witch hunt.”

As the saying goes, it’s not the parts of the Bible I don’t understand that bother me; it’s the parts that I do. As we wait to learn what the Mueller report really says, we need a similar clarity: It’s not what we don’t know that should bother us, but what we do. Whether Trump and his enablers have broken any laws, they are clearly committed to using law to subvert the basic tenets of our social contract: the will of the people, the good of the whole and equal justice under the law.

"History teaches us — from abolition to women’s suffrage to the labor movement to the civil rights era — that reports never saved us. Only deeply committed moral-fusion movements that resisted the lies of oppression have pushed America toward a more perfect union."

Whether Trump and his campaign colluded with the Russians to subvert democracy, they have certainly colluded with homegrown and racist voter-suppression efforts to undermine the basic principle of one person, one vote. Since the Supreme Court’s Shelby County v. Holder decision in 2013, which stripped the Voting Rights Act of its power to require preclearance of voting-law changes in places with a history of racist voter suppression, 23 states have passed laws to limit voting rights, according to the Brennan Center. It’s no accident that Trump won those states in 2016 and proudly points to them as “red states” on maps designed to obscure the nearly 3-million-vote margin by which he lost the popular vote.

When Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) refuses to take up the For the People Act — a bill designed to restore voting rights to millions of Americans — he is colluding in plain sight with state legislatures that have been found guilty in federal court of targeting African American voters with “almost surgical precision.” And it should be noted that those who benefit and get elected because of this collusion support policies that hurt many millions of white people.

Trump’s collusion to subvert the will of the American people extends to a policy record that is now well established. He and his enablers colluded to give $1.5 trillion in tax cuts to the greedy and to increase the military budget while refusing to address the needs of the estimated 140 million poor and low-wealth people in this country.

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Though the Affordable Care Act remains popular and most Americans think our 37 million neighbors who are still uninsured deserve coverage, Trump continues to collude with those attacking and undermining the ACA.

Though most Americans support living wages for all workers, Trump and his enablers refuse to consider a minimum wage of $15 an hour and a union for the more than 58 million people working below that living wage. Trump points instead to low unemployment rates that in no way reflect the reality that there is no state or county in the United States where someone can rent a market-rate two-bedroom apartment working full time at the federal minimum wage.

"What we most need now is an enlightened public committed to rebuilding the infrastructure of democracy in our communities."

While the realities of global climate change threaten massive displacement and death for millions of Americans, Trump continues to deny what everyone can see, joking that the extreme winter storms created by climate change are somehow evidence that global warming doesn’t exist.

We cannot wait for the Justice Department to catch this president in a legal misstep, though that may well happen at some point. Our present crisis is much bigger than Trump and his mendacity. It goes to the very heart of who we are as a nation. And history teaches us — from abolition to women’s suffrage to the labor movement to the civil rights era — that reports never saved us. Only deeply committed moral-fusion movements that resisted the lies of oppression have pushed America toward a more perfect union.

What we most need now is an enlightened public committed to rebuilding the infrastructure of democracy in our communities. We must register the millions of eligible voters who are unregistered and mobilize those whose names are on the roll but did not show up in 2016 or 2018. We must reclaim the moral high ground and resolve to work together beyond the puny language of left and right until we achieve at the ballot box what too many have hoped the special counsel would do for us: a rebuke of Trump’s immoral agenda that opens the possibility of an America that has never yet been.

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Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II is national president and senior lecturer of Repairers of the Breach. His latest book is The Third Reconstruction: How A Moral Movement is Overcoming the Politics of Division and Fear. Follow him on Twitter: @RevDrBarber

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