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What Do We Do When They "Flood The Zone"?

What Do We Do When They "Flood The Zone"?
Alex Wong/Getty Images; Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images; Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

There’s so much “criming” going on with the GOP and Trump that it’s becoming very hard to know what matters, what to focus on.

From coup plots to the Big Lie grift to stealing top secret documents, it’s a big tangled mess. And now add to that governors like DeSantis who want a piece of the press attention, too, and are willing to exploit innocent people, even illegally, to achieve it.

Perhaps they believe they can render us too numb, distracted, and exhausted by it all to deal with them effectively.

Steve Bannon had a phrase for this: “Flood the zone with sh*t.” He was talking about how to deal with his number one enemy, the media, but it could apply just as well to law enforcement and the patience of the public.

Republicans are exploiting the fact that our justice system moves slowly and deliberately when it comes to big political crimes—precisely because any mistake will be pounced upon by the other side as evidence that one party has politicized law enforcement.

Merrick Garland certainly understands the game that these politicians are playing, just as Fauci understood how he was being set up just for doing his job, too. That’s where leaning into professionalism, process, evidence and facts comes in.

All the sh*t flooding in the world is not going to stop a slow moving boulder, grinding down those who seek to oppose it.

We should understand that the Justice Department cannot respond publicly to each and every shenanigan that some Trump ally throws. They can’t be announcing charges every week.

That would lead precisely to what Bannon wants: so much sh*t in the zone that no one can move at all. Rather, we need to push back in the public sphere against these perpetrators so that they pay a political price, even while the authorities assess whether to launch investigations and bring charges.

The Justice Department must make a calculation based on limited resources and time. So in the meantime, we can do our part by raising the political costs of bad behavior high enough to deter more shit flooding.

When the public raises an outcry over a judge who seems loyal first to Trump, other judges are listening. Some of those judges may sit on an appellate panel deciding whether to go along with her or stop her.

When the public raises a cry over the illegal kidnapping of legal asylum seekers from Venezuela, there are a lot of voters in that community who will be motivated to turn out against such cynical exploitation.

While it’s fine to call for investigations, we only further the goals of the Bannons and DeSantises of the world when we also call for Merrick Garland’s head because his Department hasn’t immediately jumped into the fray.

That’s not how the Department works, especially in a charged political environment. If they step into this shit zone, they simply can’t keep rolling the boulder forward as well.

So while it might feel cathartic to decry—incorrectly by the way— that there have been no legal consequences for anyone doing all this criming, it's best to pause a moment and ask whether you are playing right into the Bannon playbook.

They flooded the zone, and they really, really want you to say, “I have zero faith that anyone is ever going to deal with all this!”

Instead, we can each help by doing our part. We can call them out and shovel it all right back at them, rather than toward the FBI and the Justice Department.

The authorities, who are among the best we’ve ever had in charge, will get to it.

Yes, it will take an infuriating amount of time.

But through it all, we need to be on their side and have their backs.