On Sept. 27, the House of Representatives voted against debating a bill that would have barred President Trump from dismissing, without cause, Robert Mueller from his position at the head of an investigation into possible illegal conduct, particularly collusion with Russia, by Trump and his associates during the 2016 election. Wisconsin representatives voted entirely on party lines — perhaps odd for what has been framed as a matter of objectivity and justice. But let’s try to unpack this a little.

In a political landscape that seems so agitated it can barely hold its attention on one topic for more than a day, the issue of Russian collusion and the subsequent investigation led by Robert Mueller is rare in that it won’t go away.

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A big reason for that is the tangible desperation with which Democrats have pushed the story of Russian collusion. Democratic messaging post-2016 has repeatedly emphasized Russia and Vladimir Putin in an attempt to link them to Donald Trump and implicitly call into question the legitimacy of the 2016 election.

To Democratic politicians and operatives who would tend to identify with the Clinton-ite establishment, the Russian question is like a get-out-of-jail-free card. If Hillary Clinton really won in 2016 and was only foiled by a dastardly international plot between Trump and the Russians, then the Democrats don’t feel like they have to answer for anything. They can’t be taken to task for allegedly undercutting a popular left-wing challenger in the primaries, for completely failing to campaign in key states like Wisconsin and ultimately for losing to one of the most unpopular presidential candidates in the history of the United States. Because hey, those damn Russians!

As galling as that is on its face, it is also deeply hypocritical. It is hypocritical because if there’s one thing that’s genuinely bipartisan in this country, it’s meddling in other countries’ elections. From the imposition of the Shah in Iran, to the U.S.-backed coup that ousted Salvador Allende in Chile and installed a right-wing dictatorship that slaughtered thousands, to U.S. intervention in Russian elections after the fall of the Soviet Union, no member of the American political ruling class has a single shred of credibility when it says it is opposed to interference in a sovereign countries elections.

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All of this is to say that when we discuss how Wisconsin’s congressional representatives are voting on the Mueller protection bill, we cannot discuss it as if it were a matter of imposing some abstract “justice.” This is a political issue. To pretend otherwise would be so historically naive that it’s almost dissociated from reality. There may have been collusion between Trump or his associates and Russia. In fact, there probably was. But anything that comes of it will be a matter of politics, not the blind application of “justice.”

That isn’t to say that “justice” itself is ludicrous — just that the idea of apolitical justice is. The Democrats are pushing the Russia case at least partially because it is in accordance with their political interests, just as the Republicans are stonewalling it because it is in their interests to not delegitimize the Trump presidency. It would likely be in the political interest of the average person on the street to have every instance of corruption or intrigue investigated and stomped out, but they don’t have any political power, so that won’t happen.

The reality is, what gets to call itself “justice” in this country is dependent on the interests of whatever group is ascendant. Every politician is eager to imply that when they invoke “justice,” it is on behalf of a completely hegemonic national moral understanding, something that is woven into the fabric of this country. There are indeed people, such as Robert Mueller, who have dedicated their lives to the notion that they can simply call balls and strikes and act as apolitical arbiters. But this is not the case. There are no institutions that exist above the political fray and can guide us, like lighthouses of ethical clarity. There is no justice out there, waiting for us to find it. We must create our own.

Sam Palmer ([email protected]) is a senior majoring in biology.