During the 1996 Russian Presidential election the Clinton administration sent advisers to secure electoral victory for Boris Yeltsin. The election was fraudulent, by all credible accounts, as the deeply unpopular Yeltsin had already effectively sold off the country to the highest bidders causing millions of people to lose their pensions and plunging tens of thousands into life threatening poverty. The general chaos of the Yeltsin years provided the framework for Putin’s rise as the one to bring back order.
This collusion between the Yeltsin and Clinton governments was such a non-issue there was even a goofy Jeff Goldblum movie made about it. (Google “Spinning Boris.”)
This basic context, and I’ve barely scratched the surface when it comes to the US inserting itself into Russian affairs after the fall of the Soviet Union, is almost never given when the media reports on Russia. This is likely because it makes “Russian agents” exposing the DNC’s bias against Bernie Sanders and placing a relative handful of ridiculous Facebook ads look like child’s play. It’s a much more compelling story when Putin is exaggerated to be an evil genius when really he’s a somewhat competent right wing leader who primarily reacts to things beyond his control. I’m not one to make much of this “Putin hates Hillary Clinton” argument, but it is pretty easy to see, from his perspective, why he would prefer Trump to Clinton given their history. It would be stupid not to.
I first started really following politics when I was outraged by the Iraq war. Trying to provide some historical context to war mongering conservatives was maddening. I feel that madness again. Trump is a terrible president and an even worse human being. The Republican Party, once the party of Thaddeus Stevens, has reached a new level of disgustingness. Vote them out of office. But do it because they have terrible politics, awful ideas, and worse policies. Don’t rely on xenophobic fear and ridiculous conspiracies.
Know your history. Trump is not Hitler. And no matter what Vice news says, there are not hordes of nazis waiting to take over cities across the country. (Poor Vice, they’ve been reduced to reporting on nazis taking over paganism. Yes, white nationalists are going to win a mass following through a religion Julian couldn’t impose on people as emperor of Rome nearly 2000 years ago. Lol.)
Not only do the liberals who want to be the jingoists not convince the conservatives who already are the jingoists, they turn off your average voter. Poll after poll shows most people aren’t having this bizarre meltdown over Putin and Trump, but the chattering class reads how Russian hacking is “our Pearl Harbor” in politico and starts foaming at the mouth. As the meme says, Rachael Maddow has become Alex Jones for people who drove a Prius. Liberalism is in serious trouble. It’s not as much Trump as it is the reaction to Trump. It feels sadder than I would have expected.