We are just emerging from a traumatic nearly two-year-long political drama that will surely be written about in history books. It has created a national schism that's left permanent scars with disagreeing family members, political parties and the public's trust of the media.
While the so-called Russian collusion scandal has not played out entirely, it is already time to ask ourselves what we can learn from it.
The scandal was born of the body politic, an organization that has disintegrated into a game of media-assisted character assassination coupled with a scorched-earth policy aimed at attacking every person close to the opposition candidate. Today it is routine to viciously attack those who embrace different political views, even if it means using allegations that are 10, 20 or even 30 years old.
For the health of the republic, this has to change.
To those who continue to sputter that something must be wrong because special counsel Robert Mueller issued 34 indictments, slow down. Twenty-five of those indictments named various Russian citizens, including GRU intelligence agents and three Russian companies. They were charged with various degrees of meddling in our 2016 presidential election — from conspiracy to commit computer crimes to identity theft to money laundering. Five Americans who worked for candidate Trump were also indicted, mostly for lying to federal investigators. A sixth, Paul Manafort, has been sentenced to more than seven years in prison for crimes including tax fraud, money laundering, obstruction of justice and witness tampering. No Americans were found to have been working with the Russians to sway the election.
To the democratic presidential candidates on the stump righteously demanding the release of the complete Mueller report, stop grandstanding. That goes for leaders in the House and Senate who keep beating the drum for the attorney general to release the entire report. Everyone knows that is already destined to happen just as soon as classified information and confidential grand jury details are legally omitted.
To those members of Congress who spent months insisting on cable news programs that there was "direct evidence" of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians (Rep. Adam Schiff, D.-Calif.); or that President Trump was a Russian agent who "betrayed our country" (Rep. Eric Swalwell, D.-Calif.); or that Congress must continue to investigate because "We do know, remember, in plain sight, a lot of collusion" (Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y.), please stop picking at political scabs that now need to heal. Do what's best for the country. Turn your attention to issues that affect American's quality of life, and stop fanning the flames of this horribly divisive fight. The honorable thing to do would be to apologize for your obviously erroneous past statements and make a promise to better serve your constituents instead of your party.
And, finally, to interested citizens who consume news: Going forward, please put on your critical thinking caps as you digest what the media tells you. You've already seen how partisan statements have been parroted as fact by the media. Now see the valueless blather of programming and publications that beat the same drum day after day. Get your information from a wide variety of sources, not just the newspaper or television channel that seems to bolster what you already think. Ask yourself if what you are hearing makes sense or seems like political spin.
We have all been duped for too long, lulled into thinking it's possible that the occupant of the White House got in bed with the Russians to win the election. We now know that is not true, no matter how badly political foes wanted it to be so.
One of the most often heard cries of skullduggery had to do with Donald Trump Jr's. pre-election Trump Tower meeting with a Russian who promised dirt on his father's opponent, Hillary Clinton. Guess what, folks. That's the way politics has long been conducted. If someone claims they have negative information on your rival, you hear the person out. That's just common sense, not collusion with an enemy of the state.
This nation needs a political purge so badly, a flushing out of the system clogged by partisan politics and self-preservation. There is a nationwide craving for leaders who have moral character and have achieved success through hard work and personal sacrifice: the small-business person, the educator, the farmer, the health care worker, the single parent who knows what failure tastes like but refuses to paint himself or herself part of the victim class. These are the dedicated Americans we need to lead this country.
If we want quality candidates, we will have to pave the way for them, voting out those among the 535 members of the U.S. Congress who have selfishly manipulated the national conversation without remorse or apology.
We reap what we sow. This corroded political system exists because the 245 million Americans of voting age let it exist. Simple as that.
To find out more about Diane Dimond, visit her website at www.dianedimond.com. Her latest book, "Thinking Outside the Crime and Justice Box," is available on Amazon.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.