Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

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)

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."

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.

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.


© 2021 Washington Post
Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II

Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II is president and senior lecturer of Repairers of the Breach, and co-chair of the the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. His books include: "The Third Reconstruction: How A Moral Movement is Overcoming the Politics of Division and Fear" (2016), "Revive Us Again: Vision and Action in Moral Organizing" (2018) and "We Are Called to Be a Movement" (2020). Follow him on Twitter @RevDrBarber.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Nabisco Strike Ends After Union Members Approve New Contract

"Congratulations to these brave workers on their wins," said one labor writer. "May their determination and grit be an inspiration for workers everywhere."

Jessica Corbett ·


'I Had a Duty of Care': Doctor Praised for Violating Texas' New Abortion Ban

"I hope the law gets overturned," Dr. Alan Braid said, "and if this is what does it, that would be great."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Infuriating Disappointment': Biden DHS Ramping Up Deportations to Haiti

"It is unconscionable for the Biden administration to resume deportation flights to Haiti, despite the country's ongoing political, economic, and environmental disasters."

Jessica Corbett ·


Architect of Texas Abortion Ban Takes Aim at LGBTQ+ Rights While Urging Reversal of Roe

"Make no mistake, the goal is to force extreme, outdated, religious-driven values on all of us through the courts."

Jessica Corbett ·


Ahead of Canadian Election, Bernie Sanders and Rashida Tlaib Endorse NDP

"Bernie, you have fought courageously for public healthcare, affordable medication, making the rich pay their fair share, and tackling the climate crisis," said party leader Jagmeet Singh. "We're doing the same here."

Jessica Corbett ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo