Sunday, December 18, 2016

The GOP Didn't Care About Russia's Effort to Derail Democracy

Tomorrow the Electoral College will vote and, short of a miracle, instead of protecting the nation from a dangerous and unqualified demagogue as intended by the Founding Father, it will probably certify Donald Trump's election and send America down the road to the death of democracy.  All empires end over time and often their demise comes from both forces inside and outside of their border (News bulletin to Christofascists: Christianity, not homosexuality, played a major role in the fall of the western Roman Empire).  Such will be the death of the American republic, with the outside forces being Putin's Russia and the inside forces being the angry whites who backed a demagogic authoritarian and destroy the country rather than lose their white privilege, the only thing that much of the white trash element (not all of whom are economically desperate) has had to allow itself to feel superior.  What is most frightening is that the GOP, the Republican Party, that political got the nation through the cataclysm of the Civil War, cared nothing about the Russian intervention.  Yes, there will be huffing and puffing and posturing, and much pretense of patriotism, but when it mattered, the GOP cared only about winning. A piece in Talking Points Memo looks at this sickening reality:  
The [Obama] administration did a huge amount over the course of the fall to alert the public, alert the world was happening. They finally went so far as to issue a public consensus judgment of the entire US intelligence community about Russian tampering in the election.
This was loud. Everybody heard about it. It was widely reported. It certainly didn't get the same volume or intensity of attention as Hillary Clinton's emails. But the President can't control press coverage. The key issue was that political partisanship by and large kept Republicans from caring. The dynamics of the presidential contest were more important than foreign meddling or sabotage.
This may sound like a harsh judgment but it is demonstrably true. Not only did President-Elect Trump know about the charges. (Indeed, it is very likely his intelligence briefings included more detailed information than we in the public have even today.) He frequently discussed them and encouraged the tampering.
Yesterday, Monica Crowley, another typically Trumpian Fox News extremist, got an appointment to the Trump National Security Council. Soon enough someone found a Tweet in which she either joked about or encouraged (depends on your interpretation) Putin getting more documents to unearth about the Clinton campaign.
One of the weirdest things about the entire cycle was that Wikileaks went from being the scourge of GOP national security hawks and the national security establishment to being the toast of American conservatives.
Perhaps you have doubts about whether Russia was really behind the hacks. But the US government made abundantly clear who it believed was behind them. The notifications went far beyond leaks or interviews. They did a public and formal pronouncement! That almost never happens. The simple matter is this: Everybody knew this. But there was no making Trump, his supporters or most critically establishment Republicans or elected officials care.
Trump supporters, GOP elites, a substantial portion of the US electorate simply didn't care about what Russia was doing because they believed it hurt Hillary Clinton.
Having said all this, it is important to repeat what I think was also clear at the time. The vast majority, I would say basically all of what the Russians found, was pedestrian and inconsequential. I would say that it had a small to marginal effect on the outcome. But it was an extremely close election that can be enough to make the difference. Can you imagine the emails within the RNC as Trump went from being the scourge and mortal enemy to man of destiny? But having close to all of one side's private communication dribbled out into the public realm and fluffed up by a credulous press was obviously damaging.
Let's not make fools of ourselves again. For most of the Fall the US government was on the record about who was behind the disruption campaign. It was discussed widely in the press. The vast majority of Republicans simply didn't care.
Some will not like it, but in my mind, being a Trump supporter and a Republican is now more or less synonymous with being a traitor guilty of undermining the U.S. Constitution.  The vast majority of Americans who did not vote for Trump need to begin treating Trump voters accordingly. 

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