The border wall and other domestic policy obsessions of the president and the Mueller investigation of Russian influence in his campaign and life are not separate matters, as so much of the media coverage presents it.
Here’s the relevant presumption: To the extent the self-evident and increasingly irrefutable fact of the total, lock-stock-and-barrel control over Trump by Putin and the Russians is operative, then his anti-NATO posture, love of North Korean and other dictators, promotion of trade wars, and domestic discord and paralysis on the order of the kind of hate mongering we’ve seen from the Russian psywar operations through social media flow directly.
It is not Putin and Trump. It is Putin is Trump. It takes a certain intellectual discipline to grasp this, apparently. The only added component is the degree to which the ruling elites in the U.S. and the West are gaining from this arrangement and therefore support it.
It is the little people, you and me, who are the victims of all this, as we’ve always been. The elites agree with Putin’s utter disdain for democracy, for “we, the people.” Putin sees making gains in the world in terms of weakening the geopolitical blocs that are grounded in their common support for democratic institutions, and he will eventually decide who to invade, who to bomb, who to poison, based on his calculations of how to get ahead on that score.
This is why taking for granted even nominal forms of democracy is truly dangerous. Many people who’ve thrived under democracies worldwide are being lulled into postures that leave their collective lunches exposed to theft. We’ve glibly adopted an arrogance that belittles and laughs at would-be dictators and fascists as comical buffoons. Too many people in the U.S. look at Trump that way, allowing them to idly tolerate him while joining a nebulous majority sentiment that opposes him the way one has disdain for an unpopular football team owner.
It’s uncool to be too passionate for justice in today’s American culture. That’s permitted only among those who are direct victims of Trump’s treachery, such as the population of Puerto Rico that is still suffering the consequences of the hurricane that he fought with paper towels and million dollar contracts given to incompetent cronies.
The saturation of the hundreds of TV channels with the worse than banal should be enough to sound necessary alarms. It is truly as if being what used to be called a “Philistine,” a person of no knowledge, sensibilities or class, is the most desirable social animal of today.
Culturally speaking, we “are what we eat,” as when our cultural fare is a militaristic sport where oversized men in tights (and shoulder pads) roll all over each other on a meticulously calibrated field, so as to make double sure no rules can be broken without a whistle, and fancifully attired ladies jump and dance on the sidelines to cheer them on.
Oh, Americans love that! They’re even willing to deny that a majority of those “players” on the field will wind up with permanent brain damage. Deny, deny, deny. And our ruling class is perfectly good with that, because they delight in watching the rest of us, the slobs, always preparing for wars, in one way or another, that will advance their perceived interests.
What is the correlation between football, brain damage and support for Trump? Has anyone checked that out? In the final analysis, it isn’t just the players themselves, but everyone who buys into the total gestalt of the sport that suffers the mental health consequences.
The 100th anniversary year of the end of World War I has passed, but if anyone paid attention to the history of that war, and the one that immediately followed, and the 200 million total lives lost, they’d have to be looking at the world today with a lot of worry.
A ruling class in 1914 – the rulers of Britain, Germany and Russia all being cousins – kicked off the wholesale slaughter of such a huge swath of civilization that we have still yet to recover from the insanity it engendered. Putin, Trump and their policies now are simply a continuation.
Nicholas Benton may be emailed at email@example.com.