Monday, October 30, 2017

Russiagate! Nope.

Vladimir Putin is the reason Hillary Clinton lost, and the truth of this is about to bring down the Trump presidency and restore civility and honor to the Republic. Maybe something along those lines, but I can't get as excited about the whole thing as many liberals/centrists and corporate pundits seem to be. In large part because:
  • I wish I lived in a world where killing innocent people in other countries would be the real scandal; 
  • I wish I lived in a world where we were more shocked about the influence of money in politics than the influence of Russian Twitter bots; 
  • I wish I lived in a world where we found it just as immoral when the U.S. interferes in democratic processes around the globe as whatever (so far hazy) acts committed by the Russian government against our own democratic process; and 
  • I wish I lived in a world where countries like Israel and Saudi Arabia could be as easily demonized by American media and politicians as Russia or Venezuela.
Among other things.

Russiagate, for lack of a better word, seems to be more a type of therapy for those who prefer establishment moderates run American empire than a scandal that will actually bring about as much positive change as the blustery hope surrounding it might suggest. It is reassuring in so many ways for these individuals: Clinton did not really lose (and well she didn't - she won the popular vote - and that twist seems to be something we should be genuinely outraged about) - Russia manipulated social media to fool a bunch of unsuspecting voters in key states. Trump does not really represent many of the bad aspects of America - he is more a product of Siberian oligarchs and backward Muscovites. And for those more evil than ignorant - we can ratchet up people's fears around not just North Korea and Iran, but also Russia! It's win, win, win!

For those in positions of power, however, it is more than therapy. Russiagate also serves as a bludgeon, for use against anyone who wants to challenge these conventional ideas promoted by the powerful center. It reeks of American exceptionalism and sucks up all the energy that might go towards the fight against money in politics and for ballot access. It takes up so much political space, and does so conveniently at the expense of the politics of change - universal healthcare, anti-imperialism, free higher education, and the urgency of ending fossil fuel use; ideas that neither political party embraces, but that have grown in popularity among the masses. These are the concepts that most politicians would rather not talk about, and most corporate newsrooms know won't help their bottom line.

It's hard to sympathize with Trump and his supporters though. And if the ends justify the means, why not have this imperfect process with all of its problematic players and ideas, take out the man at the top. Maybe it is worth it to get rid of President Trump, or even just to horribly taint his brand of politics, which as incoherent as it often seems, has nonetheless emboldened a motley crew of Nazis and white supremacists. Maybe. But Washington has shown it can get rid of presidents far more easily than it can actually change for the better. Nixon was impeached and resigned, remember, but roughly six years later, Ronald Reagan was elected.