Young protesters
Credit: Elvert Barnes

Rumors (and they’re only rumors) abound that Special Counsel Robert Mueller may submit his final report to the  attorney general’s office as soon as mid-February. Starting January 3, a preening Democratic majority in the House will swing gavels and issue subpoenas at an industrial rate. So the temptation to believe that the last two years of hyperventilation about Trump-Russia collusion in 2016 will be rewarded with ecstatic catharsis in 2019 will be irresistible for too many in my line of work.

The special counsel’s final report is almost certainly not going to offer definitive proof that the Trump campaign enlisted the assistance of the Russian government to commit political crimes for the campaign’s benefit. That the Russian government conducted a propaganda campaign and committed crimes (e.g. hacking Democratic officials’ emails) with the express purpose of causing political turmoil and, to some extent, benefitting the Trump campaign is a matter of fact, as two reports recently submitted to the Senate Intelligence Committee make abundantly clear. Nonetheless, those hoping for proof of a conspiracy between Trump and/or his staff and the Russian government are likely to be disappointed. If two years of investigating the hardened imbeciles that populate Trumpland hasn’t yielded anything, then the truth must be something more complicated. My bet is that it’s something more farcical than we could’ve imagined.

So, if you’re an MSNBC producer, or a member of the #resistance who burns incense in front of a crocheted portrait of Robert Mueller while murmuring “impeachment, impeachment, impeachment,” make it your New Year resolution to … not be like that. Instead, use some of that energy to prepare yourself for the likelihood that the special counsel’s report, if it even sees the light of day, will mostly provide useful details that are officially confirmed by the Department of Justice. These will mostly be about things already publicly known before November 8, 2016. Those details should make up only a part of a broader case against a second term for Donald Trump.

Everyone should use their energy to recognize that this is a presidency drowning in its own corruption. And Trump’s policies can be gummed up by the incoming House majority and in most cases reversed by the next president. Demanding impeachment when 1) there’s no clear-cut criminality and 2) there’s no chance there would be a conviction in the Senate is a wonderful way to get people to rally around a president who is otherwise hopelessly alienating his own allies.

Finally, use most of the remaining energy to take a step back and consider, as a whole, the high-octane ineptitude of the 2016 campaign, Russia’s successful interference via … Facebook memes and Twitter bots with poor grammar, and the Tribune of the People in the Oval Office. Consider what this farce says about us. Happy New Year.

On one  final note, if you still have some leftover energy, or if you’ve been reinvigorated, now consider that there are still some places that offer refuge from the burning Cuyahoga around you. The season of giving is still in effect, so please fish out some cash that would’ve gone towards the incense and crochet supplies and donate to the Washington Monthly. Your donation is, of course, tax-deductible and, even better, will be matched thanks to a generous challenge grant we’ve received from NewsMatch. So if it’s $5 or $500 (that’s some nice-smelling incense), thank you in advance for your support.

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Joshua Alvarez is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal. He edits syndicated opinion columns at the Washington Post, and can be reached at