On Thursday, Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., sat down with the Washington Examiner's editorial board. He had some tough words for those focused on President Trump's Russia-related controversies.
"The whole Russia thing, unless you're a hardened leftist, people don't give a shit," Duffy said. "They don't believe it, they don't buy into it. They're like: enough on Russia."
As Duffy sees it, jobs are the key and Russia is irrelevant. "[Jobs] are what people care about."
I think Duffy is probably right.
Ultimately, the slow speed and deep complexity of the Russia investigation is such that many people have simply tuned out. And with Trump now in office for six months, they want to move on and see Trump work with Congress to pass legislation.
I understand these attitudes even if I do not share them.
Most families are far more concerned about being able to pay their bills and access affordable healthcare than they are about Russia stories. Because at this point, that's what the Russia investigations amount to: Stories.
No one has been caught red-handed, or prosecuted, or impeached. And until that changes, Duffy's thesis will continue to hold true.
That said, I believe it will change.
And that raises an interesting question: If Trump or his senior associates are directly tied to Russian organized-crime activities, or collusion with Russian intelligence services, how will Duffy's constituents and other ordinary people respond?
It all depends on the credibility of the evidence.
If the evidence is weak or peripheral to Trump himself, people will keep ignoring the story. Their ignorance won't be born of dishonor or stupidity, it will be born of higher priorities. Trump won because he was able to tap into a deep-seated and septic wound in the political psyche. Enough voters were so sick of "politics as usual" that they were willing to roll the dice on Trump. Even after all his rants, his flirtations with Putin, his Billy Bush audiotape, and a campaign that raised serious concerns as to Trump's mental state, voters gave him a thumbs up.
Their impulse will be to stick with this philosophy and judge Trump on his ability to pass legislation.
Yet if it turns out that Trump is directly tied to a Russia-related scandal, popular opinion will quickly shift against him. In the end, people want a leader who has their interests at heart.
If Trump loses on Russia and is shown to have lied, he'll no longer be seen as the people's servant.