Russia and Trump

First, a personal story. In January 2017 I traveled to Cuba for ten days. One of the many things I learned was the feeling and emotion behind what has been a nearly 60-year blockade of the island by the US: everything is more difficult when it has to come from outside your country and your nearest trading partner won’t sell anything to you. Cubans have died because they lacked drugs available for just a few dollars 90 miles to the north. Cubans have lost trading opportunities because the US has used political capital to forestall trade from its allies to Cuba. If everything is imported and has to be routed through companies that don’t care what the US thinks, then everything is more expensive. It is difficult to repair items for which you have no spare parts. Access to the Internet is nearly impossible as the global companies that run telecommunications won’t play ball with Cuba. Some Cubans still rely upon horses for travel and for farm work; their stocks of oil are that unreliable and that expensive.

You may not remember the reason for the embargo of Cuba that was put in place under the Eisenhower administration: it arose from the desire for regime change in Cuba. My point is that we have meddled in the politics of countries for longer than I have been alive (62 years and counting). The US has pursued regime change just in recent times in Haiti, in Honduras, in Venezuela, in Somalia, in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, in Iraq, in Libya, in Syria, in the Ukraine, in North Korea, and the list goes on and on and on. Sometimes we were successful, sometimes not. Often it was at the point of a gun including assassination, or under a flurry of bombs, including lately from drones directed from thousands of miles away; sometimes it was an economic strafing of the country with poor people the prime target. It usually is aimed at the civilian populations; either because the *bad guys* look like everyone else to our Western eyes, or because we hold this naïve belief that if we piss off the population enough they will rise against their leader and make room for our puppet, our mole within their government. Always it was extrajudicial; we have never had the *right* to enter other countries in the manner that we have. We claim that right because we are a democracy, because we are America, because we think we know what is best for everyone and that everyone wants to be like us. Having Trump as President nothing has changed except for more war around the globe. More people died in Syria from attacks by US-led forces in June than have died in the US in terrorist attacks over the last dozen years. And we are silent as this goes on in our name.

And so it is that I have become tired of the rhetoric that drives the paranoia about Russia and their supposed attempt to influence American politics. America has no leg to stand on; we have meddled in ways far, far worse in literally dozens of countries. We need to pluck out the timber in our eye before we complain about the mote in theirs. I also suspect, now that we have seen the beginnings of the Trump administration, that those who are still blaming Russia for the Clinton loss have lost all perspective on what is happening here with the Deep State. I use that term in the sense that the system itself: political, economic, and social; has inertia and a momentum that no one person, be they President or some other high position in government, can deter. Trump has not been able to fulfill his campaign promises; like every politician before him, it is questionable if he even believed them himself. But remember after the Republican convention, the talk in the corporate-owned media about how even the RNC was trying to figure out how to jettison the man from their ticket? It was all propaganda of course, trying to ensure that his opponent would win, so that the status quo could continue unabated. Trump was not the darling of the RNC in any case. Once he won, of course Republican lawmakers were ecstatic; however, Trump still has not been accepted as a true Republican, he only offers less resistance to the Old Guard agenda than a Democrat in the White House would. He is hindered by his lack of a *proper* support team; they have been unable to appoint even half of the positions that the incoming President can use to effect his policies. Trump has no actual beliefs; he flip flops precisely because he only reflects the last person who speaks to him. Some of his plans are illegal; courts have stepped in. Some plans are politically embarrassing; the rest of the world grimaces or laughs and moves on despite what he says. Many plans need careful crafting and as such, need compromise which Republicans have found to be terribly distasteful even within their own party. Congress critters may try to lean on their colleagues, but without a true Republican in the White House, they are less successful at this than they would be with a President Pence.

I began with a personal story and now I want to make this personal with you. It feels to me like Americans value our so-called democracy more than almost anything else about our country. I write so-called because it has been clear for years that our elections are stolen. They are stolen when districts are crafted to achieve a certain result no matter the candidate or the political issues of the day. They are stolen when voter registration rules and requirements disenfranchise certain types of citizens, usually poor and people of color. They are stolen when votes are not counted or are miscounted, and when voting machines fail or are hacked. They are stolen when long lines at polling places mean not everyone can take that much time off to vote. They are stolen when lies are promulgated as campaign ads and are not retracted. They are stolen when big money ensures only their own lies are heard on media.

People often find the loss of their story about themselves, their self-image, to be unimaginable and thus they will look the other way even as that image is destroyed. If you believe in democracy then the issues I raise here are likely new and unbelievable to you. You still see democracy as a shining example of what is right about America; and the notion that Russia may have tarnished our democracy is horrifying. You find Trump disgusting as if he were a family member who gets drunk at community picnics and embarrasses your whole family. You think that President Pence is preferable because he will act like a real President, unlike Trump who acts as if he hasn’t a clue about diplomacy or discretion and the prestige of the office. You at least looked away as Democrats cheered the Tomahawk attack on Syria in April, saying that Trump was finally acting as a President should. You weren’t told the whole story about that attack; it wasn’t about the *beautiful babies* and it didn’t reach its stated goals (although its true goal was unspoken in our media). And in my humble opinion, if you also felt relief upon hearing the news of the attack, feeling that Trump was finally bringing dignity to the office of President with this decisive and swift action, then I see you as part of the problem. To say that there is a problem with Russia affecting our elections, or with Trump or his family having interactions with foreigners for the purpose of gaining ground against his opponent is farcical. As shown above, we Americans have more blood on our hands in foreign politics than we can atone for in this lifetime. And if you have a problem with foreign assistance in campaigns then look into the hundreds of millions of dollars that went into the Clinton Foundation over the last decade from foreign governments in that pay-for-access scheme run under the Clinton State Department. Oh you won’t find much in the way of accountability for how that money was spent, that foundation is mostly closed and empty now. No one seems to be asking any questions about that little slush fund. Did you think that bribery on that scale reflected well upon our democracy too?

From here I feel the best case is to leave a damaged and ineffective Trump at the helm throughout his term. This will lead to continued gridlock but the least amount of damage, when compared to what would transpire under President Pence. Impeachment is a joke, and not likely to happen, so why waste time and energy on that? Better that we should look to our left and to our right and find those nearby who are being thrown under the bus even as you read this. Find them and help them. That is how we survive this dark time, by pulling together and helping each other.

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