Washington, D.C. is a place full of cutthroat practices, naked greed, and murky coverups practiced by both sides of the aisle. One doesn’t have to look far to see evidence of such a culture. Today, the American people are faced with a number of potential scandals in our political class. Opinions of these scandals range from partisan witch hunts to genuine concern depending on who one talks to and where they reside on the political spectrum. These investigations, and those who carry them out, have been increasingly used as partisan wedges to divide the American people and erode their trust in agencies and politicians alike. To see how this all started, it is necessary to take a step back in history.
Watergate was the first example of these in modern American politics. President Nixon’s criminal activity lead to a divided sphere in Washington. Bipartisan cooperation plummeted as it was revealed Nixon was attempting to spy on his opponents. Now partisan anger was justified in this case as it was a legitimate criminal charge, yet it set the trend for something far worse.
With Bill Clinton’s Monica Lewinsky scandal, House Republicans called for his impeachment when the President broke no law. Certainly what he did was immoral, yet the “high crimes and misdemeanors” pretext in the Constitution was not filled. This was the beginning of using agencies such as the FBI and Justice Department as offensive weapons for political gain. Today it has gotten even worse as the Justice Department and FBI themselves are under scrutiny for obstruction of justice so appointees can protect political allies (à la Loretta Lynch). I’m quite certain this is not how the Framers intended our government to work. The right and the left are both attempting to use America’s justice apparatus to investigate, disrupt, and derail their respective agendas. In effect, it silences the will of the American people as more and more noncriminal activities are subject to scrutiny by federal investigative services.
The solution? I can’t purport. It’s in human nature to take advantage of any and all competitive resources possible, and in politics, the Freudian id is much more present than we like to think. Washington has grown to a size and scope where politics cannot escape the basic functions of government such as the prosecution of criminals. The American people are constructing the view that a nonpartisan basic government service is now taking orders from party bosses in the Senate and House. While this is a multilayered issue that may or may not be true (House and Senate Intel Committees do constitutionally wield the power to investigate), it is damning for our democracy and society to be tainted by politicized bureaucracy. That experiment has been tried before in the Soviet Union, and it collapsed under its own weight. Maybe the silver lining in this is that one day, the left and right will come together and agree that weaponized justice will destroy our nation.