At any other time in modern history, investigative findings that a foreign power had meddled in our elections and helped elect our president would alarm the nation. And evidence that the president had tried to undermine that investigation would be shocking.

But Donald Trump has lowered the bar for acceptable presidential behavior to an unprecedented level.

Any hope of returning to normalcy requires that members of Congress, especially House Democrats, stay focused on the end game: Restoring dignity to the presidency, regaining the country’s standing as a respected world leader and honoring our history as a diverse nation of immigrants that look out for those less fortunate among us.

There’s one — and only one — way to do that: Elect a president in 2020 who can lead the nation back onto the moral path from which we strayed 2 1/2 years ago.

That won’t happen if Democrats simply try to run against Trump — if they fail to offer a vision of their own or to recognize that the presidential election will be won in swing states far from California. If Democrats spend the next 16 months obsessed with impeaching the president, they will lose again.

That’s not to dismiss the outrageous findings of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation: Russia meddled in, and tried to subvert, our elections. Individuals associated with the Trump campaign had repeated contacts with people tied to the Russian government.

Trump tried to cover-up the purpose of a meeting between one of his sons and a Russian lawyer, and likely fired James Comey because the FBI director refused to publicly state that the president was not under investigation. Trump called White House counsel Donald McGahn and directed him to have the acting attorney general remove Mueller.

Mueller’s findings about Trump’s conduct should roil our nation to the core. But Americans have grown numb to the president’s continuing misbehavior. It’s hard to imagine what new evidence could be uncovered that would change the current political calculus.

Nevertheless, the House of Representatives has a duty to investigate — a duty reinforced by the Mueller report. Yet, absent shocking new details, House Democrats should abandon the idea of impeachment. Even if there were the votes to proceed to trial, the chances of conviction in the Republican-controlled Senate would be nil.

Meanwhile, Democrats would have lost the opportunity to show the nation its alternative vision — for affordable health care, protecting the environment, fixing our broken immigration system, providing jobs with livable wages, implementing true tax reform, offering a coherent foreign policy and addressing climate change. That’s what will help the party’s nominee win swing states.

The party, and its presidential candidate, whoever that might be, must not make Trump — and certainly not a Trump impeachment — their primary focus. Being just the anti-Trump will not suffice. Hillary Clinton’s failed campaign demonstrated that.

Editorial by The Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.)

Visit The Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.) at www.mercurynews.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 

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