Liberals, do not expect Robert Mueller to save you from President Trump. Only politics can stop Trump and the Republican Party.

Many Democrats and liberals have spent 2017 fixated on the Russia-Trump story, especially the idea that Trump himself actively assisted Russian efforts to swing the election to him. Trump smells incredibly guilty of something, the circumstantial evidence is strong, and Mueller's investigation has already netted two guilty pleas (of George Papadopoulos and Michael Flynn) and one indictment (of Paul Manafort).

It is right and proper for this investigation to proceed. However, liberals should not delude themselves that it is definitely going to topple Trump like Watergate toppled Nixon. The American government is dramatically more corrupt than it was in the 1970s, and the Republican Party is rotten to the bone. If some smoking gun on Russia-Trump appears, there will be no Barry Goldwater-style intervention to usher Trump quietly from the White House.

On the contrary, it's highly likely that if Mueller gets close to the president, Trump will simply fire him, and the Republican elite will help him do it. Republican hacks are already whipping themselves into a froth by smearing Mueller (who was appointed head of the FBI by George W. Bush) as some kind of deranged communist, and using that as a convenient excuse to carry out a partisan purge of the FBI.

Republican congressional leaders, glorying in their latest transfer of wealth to the ultra-wealthy, will either look the other way — perhaps their upcoming plan to gut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid — or join in the fun. The only Republicans who are meaningfully anti-Trump are a tiny handful of powerless, untrustworthy neoconservative warmongers.

On some level, this is starting to sink in among liberals. The conspiracy loon Louise Mensch finally exiled herself from polite liberal conversation permanently when she "reported" that Trump and Stephen Bannon are facing the death penalty for espionage. But that is only somewhat less likely than Mueller managing to nail Trump without being halted by Republican corruption.

The only reliable way to stop Trump and the Republican Party that has stood firmly behind him for his entire presidency is through strategic political defeat. In 2018, the GOP must be crushed at the ballot box, their congressional majorities taken, and Congress' investigative powers put back to good use — and not just on Russia, but also on the unprecedented money corruption that suffuses the Trump White House. Never before in American history has it been possible to give a direct cash bribe to the president by simply joining or staying at one of his many golf resorts or hotels.

This will mean, of course, overcoming Republican cheating. The GOP has rigged the House to give themselves a roughly 5- to 8-point handicap, and attempted to systematically disenfranchise liberals with voter ID requirements and other deliberately burdensome measures. Democrats and other left-leaning groups must help people jump through those hoops and win by a big enough margin to overcome the handicap.

Then in 2020, Trump must be crushed at the ballot box. His corrupt administration must be thoroughly investigated, and any criminal acts punished. More importantly, the economic base of Republican plutocracy — Wall Street, monopolist corporations, and idle rich heirs and heiresses — must also be crushed. Monopolies must be broken up, taxes on the rich and corporations dramatically increased, and the size, profitability, and power of Wall Street sharply reduced with cricket bat regulations.

Meanwhile, Democrats must strengthen their own political base by strengthening democratic freedoms. They should make D.C. and Puerto Rico states, establish an inalienable right to vote, make Election Day a holiday, and strengthen and update labor law to spark a new wave of union organizing. Then they must overhaul the economy to cut the middle and working class in on the fruits of the last 40 years of economic growth, actually provide health care for all, and perhaps strengthen the welfare state for parents and children. Only by establishing a new political economy that functions for the great majority of the citizenry — as FDR and the New Deal Democrats did in the 1930s — can Republicans be firmly exiled from political power. For a political party as diseased as the GOP, a generation in the political wilderness is just what the doctor ordered.

Contrary to the grandiose West Wing delusions of Benjamin Wittes, there will be no grand bipartisan alliance of liberals and honest conservatives to accomplish this. Mainstream Republicans and the conservative movement produced Trump, and they will continue to protect him so they can keep looting the country. Republican lawmakers are the problem. They must be stopped. And there's only one way for liberals to do it: Vote. Win. Govern.