Our nation has an identity crisis. Are we the “shining city on a hill” that Ronald Reagan intoned in the 1980s? Or are we descending into some outer circle of hell bent on self destruction? Fan or critic of the current administration, it’s obvious we’re closer to the latter choice. The difference among American citizens is all about who is to blame. Trump fans blame it on an adversarial media while Trump critics blame divisive policies and tweets.

Recently the president’s public relations advocate (some would say lawyer), Rudy Giuliani claimed that “truth isn’t the truth ... it’s one person’s vision of the truth.” In one sense Rudy is correct, but only when the “truth” is an opinion and not a factual statement. Let’s consider baseball: Which is the best team in baseball? Is it the team with the best record? If I claim the best team in baseball is the New York Yankees that is my version of the truth. If someone else disputes my claim and says the best team is the Houston Astros, that’s their version of the truth. Basically, both are opinions.

Eventually the truth will be determined by the outcome of the World Series. When that contest is finished the winner can rightfully claim the title of the best team in baseball. So will it be in politics and our nation’s future. When the Mueller investigation is over, and indictments are brought, the American people will be able to determine what the truth is, as well as whether or not their president has worked with a foreign government to win the 2016 election. Of course there will be those who claim the Russia investigation is biased and the result should be ignored. Hopefully whatever the outcome, we as fair-minded people can take the results and move on to either complete the work of this administration, or terminate it for crimes against the country.

Then last week, Paul Manafort was found guilty on eight counts related to tax evasion and tax fraud. On the same day, Trump “fixer” Michael Cohen plead guilty to eight counts including campaign finance violations. In doing so Cohen said that he participated in these criminal acts on the direction of then candidate Donald Trump. On the next day Cohen’s lawyer hinted on national news that Cohen can provide evidence that Donald Trump knew about Russian hacking before it was publicized, and perhaps even worked with the hackers or their Russian contacts. Where does that leave this administration?

At the same time, the State of New York has sued the Trump Foundation as well as all of Donald Trump’s children except his youngest son. There are allegations that Trump Foundation funds went to pay campaign expenses, settlements Trump’s Florida property paid out and even may have been the source of the hush money paid to the women alleging to have had affairs with the president. All of this is tied to the Trump financial organization and the possibility it paid for information on Hillary Clinton from foreign sources. The puzzle pieces are coming together, and yet we still aren’t sure of the truth. Some of us even doubt the sincerity of these allegations and suspect they are part of a conspiracy against Trump controlled by the “deep state.”

Even though I suffered IQ loss again I tuned into Fox News Wednesday night and listened as Sean Hannity and guests completely ran around the Manafort and Cohen cases by proffering the conspiracy and deep-state theories. As they would have you believe, there is a more important investigation going on into the “crimes” committed by Hillary and the Clinton Foundation. I’m beginning to believe Fox News personalities are both responsible for and victims of the Trump Administration’s campaign of misdirection. It seems impossible that so many other wise intelligent people could be hoodwinked for so long a time ... unless they are complicit in all the lies told since Inauguration Day 2017 by the White House occupant.

What’s more disconcerting are the thousands of Fox News followers who believe a Sean Hannity over the actual events transpiring in federal courtrooms. They will undoubtedly claim the president is being framed. They believe there is a deep state which is actively seeking the destruction of president. They also believe the FBI, CIA and NIA are all corrupt and working against the president and American people. In other words they believe the word of one man over and above the very professional, diligent and historically accurate agents of the above mentioned organizations. Why? Is it because they voted for Trump and can’t admit they may have been wrong about the man who promised to “drain the swamp?”

Whatever the reason, the persistent Trump supporter must — as an American citizen in our democratic republic — ask for transparency and not be so willing to accept one man’s word in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. All of us must patiently wait for the facts and neither convict nor acquit the man in question: Donald Trump.

Mike Tischio is a freelance columnist living in Union County. To comment, simply email newsroom@standard-journal.com.

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