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Democrats should heed the lessons of Obama-era Republicans, not handwringing “strategists.”

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Via Dave Weigel, here’s an object lesson in how Democrats sometimes turn their valuable surplus of good-faith political conduct into horribly counterproductive second-guessing. 

This isn’t to say that Democrats should mimic the Republican Party’s habit of using congressional powers to feed voter paranoia rather than to investigate real wrongdoing. But it is worth recalling that Republicans ignored years of warnings about overreach to turn the tragic Benghazi killings into a political mobilization tool, and their relentlessness eventually led to the revelation that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had used a private email server to conduct state business. It doesn’t look so much like overreach anymore. 

Unlike Benghazi, or GOP frothing over the email server, the various Russia investigations are centered around serious crimes and real suspicions. Democrats should be unflinching about the importance of these investigations even if there’s no political upside to them, because a complete accounting of what happened is critically important to restoring lost faith in the integrity of U.S. elections. The fact that basically every revelation since then-FBI Director James Comey disclosed the existence of the Russia investigation has been comically incriminating should comfort Democrats who think this line of inquiry is politically misbegotten.  

A decent gut check at moments like these is to ask, “What would Republicans do?,” and then dial things back a bit—rather than do the opposite. In this case, the sweet spot is telling consultants who fear blowback from the Russia investigation to take a hike.