Friday, June 29, 2018

Only We Can Stopping Hating

"The American election in 2016 was Putin's 'grandest campaign' of deceit, Snyder writes. He outlines the stages of Trump's ascent, beginning long before the presidential race: Russian money rescued him from financial collapse, thus enabling the reality television fantasy of Trump the successful businessman. That character became a spokesman of the birtherism fraud, propelling Trump's political career and presidential ambitions, which were in turn further supported by Russian propaganda. 'Fiction rested on fiction rested on fiction,' Snyder writes. 'From a Russian perspective, Trump was a failure who was rescued and an asset to be used to wreak havoc in American reality.'

Trump's victory and presidency have indeed served Putin's interests, precisely through the havoc they wreak. Though Washington still imposes sanctions against Russian individuals and organizations, long-standing Western alliances and trade relations are rapidly deteriorating under Trump, as are the reputation and global influence of American democracy. This helps Putin argue that the United States 'is not exceptional,' McFaul laments, 'that we have no moral authority to preach to other countries about their behavior.' The president also continues to minimize the Kremlin's role in the 2016 U.S. election and even lobbies for Russia's re-entry into the Group of Seven.

But none of this means that Putin is responsible for Trump's election, nor does it mean that Russia is masterminding some unwitting American transition to authoritarianism. 'Americans were not exposed to Russian propaganda randomly, but in accordance to their own susceptibilities,' Snyder emphasizes. 'People are led towards ever more intense outrage about what they already fear or hate."

The siloing of news consumption and the erosion of faith in common facts and truths, the demonization of opponents and the polarization of our politics, especially on the right - they were all underway long before Trump announced his candidacy.
Snyder also highlights the weakening of key provisions of the Voting Rights Act, maintaining that 'when Russia acted against American democracy, the American system was already becoming less democratic.'

Whatever is happening here, we were ripe for it. The risk is not that Putin will turn us into a Russian facsimile; it's that we morph into something different all on our own." [Emphasis added.]

Read the Washington Post, Books on the Russia scandal focus on the news. What they need is more history.

Don't Vote Hate (©