Okay, so I may be totally off-base here. But am I the only one who’s suspicious of the consequences of impeaching Trump? Like, maybe that’s exactly what Russia wants us to do?
I don’t know. I admit I know jack about politics and I’m not very smart. It’s just that Russia has always been weirdly out there with their tactics (shit more nuanced and fiction-crazy than some of the shit the U.S. has done — thinking of the Cold War Georgi Markov ricin assassination here). It seems odd that a country with such a complex history of clever subversion would want a cartoon villain for U.S. President, and nothing more. Think about it. All our attention is on Trump right now. Even quite a few Republicans are galvanized to move against him, and we’re all converging on him without really thinking about anything else because, at the moment, his existence in politics is the worst thing anyone can think of. What if that’s exactly what Russia wants? We finally impeach him and we’re so up our own asses with heady victory that we don’t even see whatever it is they have planned next for us until it’s too late.
Am I an idiot for entertaining this idea? Should I hang up my tinfoil hat?
Russia is not a person. It’s a country. It has national interests, but not “wants” in the way you’re using the term. Vladimir Putin is a person, and he definitely has wants, but he’s also not a secret evil genius. I mean sure, he keeps plenty of secrets, he is cartoonishly evil, and he has a certain kind of Machiavellian genius, but we also tend to give him way too much credit. At the end of the day, he’s just a crime boss with nuclear codes. His interests are transparent and predictable.
It’s true, one of Putin’s overarching foreign interests is the slow and steady destabilization of Western Democracy, but we all know that. (Well, everyone but the President knows that.) Still, there’s no strategic mystery here, and to the extent that Putin has control over the Russian government, he will use state power to play his zero-sum spy-game of fucking with the United States and other NATO countries.
Now, no one — not even Putin — really believed that Trump was gonna win the Presidency. Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election was an effort to destabilize and delegitimize what everyone expected was going to be a Clinton administration, but Putin fucked up and accidentally got Trump elected. You’d think a Trump victory is what Putin would have wanted, but it isn’t. Putin was playing the long game, a low-key death-by-a-thousand-cuts style attack on the West. With the election of Trump, Putin got his hand caught in the cookie jar, and the Russian interference in our election provoked a massive immune response within the institutions of the US government that will likely culminate in impeachment proceedings against Trump.
If this massive institutional immune response ends up inoculating our government against further cyber and psychological warfare, then Putin overplayed his hand. If Democrats win back Congress in November, I think we’ll all see the fever break. There will finally be legitimate hearings into the 2016 election. There will be election reform. There may even be impeachment proceedings. Then again, maybe not. Democrats may not win back Congress. Trump could end up serving out his term, nominating another Supreme Court justice, and maybe even winning reelection. It’s possible, but none of that would be due to any nefarious Russian subversion. It would be due entirely to American stupidity.
So yeah, long story short: Don’t be afraid of Russian subversion. Be afraid of American stupidity and the institutions that foster it. (I’m looking at you, Fox News.) That’s the real enemy. An unsophisticated domestic electorate is infinitely more dangerous than a sophisticated foreign adversary.
In other words, educate yourself, get involved, and GET OUT THERE AND FUCKING VOTE.