Welcome to Putin’s America
Do I really have to state the obvious here? Or is America in such a state of cognitive dissonance that the obvious is no longer even a consideration?
Public unrest. Riots. Polarization. Authoritarianism. Brazen corruption. Defiance of the rule of law. Rampant lack of the public trust. The electoral process under siege. Public officials condoning racism. Emboldened by political leaders, fringe groups promoting insurrection. An economy in collapse. Sharper disparities between rich and poor. America’s world influence in steep decline. Worldwide abandonment of traditional democratic allies and alliances. Embrace of totalitarian dictatorships. Human rights violations met with a shrug and perhaps even a wink and a nod.
Oh, did I mention a worldwide pandemic? One that was ignored until its grip took hold long enough to paralyze the nation.
And like Nero fiddling while Rome burned, a president more concerned with a snub by Twitter than the havoc encircling him. And now, continued insensitive pronouncements that only exacerbate the open wound of racism in the context of the tragic murder of George Floyd.
Mission accomplished, Mr. Putin.
It is well documented that Putin’s goal is to destabilize the American system of government. Evidence of this has been well documented in The New York Times, The Washington Post and elsewhere, and there’s no need to reiterate his motives. But some of his methods continue to be an open question, especially when it comes to the obvious cooperation of certain American political leaders. A direct link between them seems elusive.
But like Einstein resisting the randomness of quantum mechanics because of a strong belief that there must be an ultimate reason for everything (hence his famous quote, “God doesn’t play dice”), we shouldn’t accept the fact that Trump, his entire cabinet, and Republican leaders have, all at once, lost their senses. That is too much to accept as a random coincidence. As Polonius stated, “though this be madness, yet there is method in it.”
Putin is not a stupid man. Like Einstein’s God, he certainly doesn’t play dice. Like all cagey investors, he must have hedged his bets. He must have planned mitigation for a potential loss. He wouldn’t just put all his stock in one candidate and hope for the best. He would spread his risk. There is no other reasonable explanation for why public officials like Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell, or William Barr would act so consistently against the interests of their own country and its constitution.
Our generation may never know why these people, all at once, have put the dictates of Russia’s leader above those of their own republic. The reasons will be fodder for future historians. Hopefully they will discover that Putin had less of an influence than what seems to be obvious. But regardless, his goals have been realized. The empirical evidence is too great to ignore.
The next great Putin accomplishment will be a rampant distrust of our own electoral process, which will shake this country to its foundations. That will be his crowning achievement. It’s already happening, gradually, before our very eyes, one presidential tweet at a time, laying the groundwork for a rejection of November’s electoral outcome. Watch for it.