There is still hope in the world. The expulsion of Michael Flynn, the 45 advisor closest linked to Russia and a known purveyor of conspiracy theories, is perhaps promising. 45’s Russia ties are coming out now, and that’s an argument for a new election. We won’t win that argument because of partisanship, but it’s actually a strong one.
After all, collusion between 45 and his Russian paymasters is a given at this point, so commonly assumed that Moby was getting in on the action. Manafort, Page, and now Flynn are all people he’s had to fire from his inner circle because the Kremlin held their leashes more openly than most of their tools. In the meantime, the raw intelligence report on 45’s Russian connections is being diligently verified by news institutions he has done his damnedest to delegitimize, and on the whole it seems to be accurate. Sure, the most scandalous details are off, but that’s the nature of raw intelligence, and attention was likely drawn to that detail to obfuscate. The rest of the document is more level-headed examination of 45’s business interests. And Mr “I won’t release my tax records” isn’t putting those issues to bed because he can’t. Releasing the true tax documents would likely damn him.
Side note: keep an eye out for faked tax returns purporting to be 45’s. It would be exactly the type of Russian chicanery that got us into this mess were they to mock up a mildly embarrassing but not damning set of returns and release them anonymously … perhaps Wikileaks, which has now come out against leaking because that’s what a pro-leaking organ does when it’s owned by a factional power. And if Russia doesn’t end up doing it, 45 might do it himself. After all, the right’s all about projecting their desires onto their enemies, assuming an immoral equivalency that doesn’t track reality. And 45’s cause celebre on the right was accusing a President of faking the paperwork that legitimized his term in office. Why wouldn’t he draft up fake taxes to release?
But if a man is helped into office by a foreign intelligence outfit as part of an attack on the infrastructure of a nation, winning despite clearly losing the popular vote, there is no reason the presidency should pass to Pence permanently. He can be a damn regent while we have another election to sort this shit out. There are two arguments, and both have merit.
The first argument is simply “why should a political party benefit from the treasonous acts of their flagbearer?” And make no mistake, that is what has happened here. But the reason Russia pulled this trick on the GOP base and not the Democratic one is that their patriotism is to the Confederate flag not the American one. How many GOP politicians and voters, after all, were willing to admit the damn thing is a hate symbol? It is a flag of a nation that declared war on America; the only patriotic thing to do with a Confederate flag is burn it. But a desire to restore the legacy of white supremacy, whether they admit it or not, is built into the GOP at this point. Putin took advantage of that, and the corruption of the media, and channeled their rage into this electoral hate crime. And they’re not going to give that up willingly.
The other reason, though, is that Putin wanted the GOP to win for a reason. Whether or not 45’s kleptocracy stands, the GOP is going to push for policies to make America weaker. And that should give folk pause. If a foreign dictator, against whom we have sanctions, with whom we find ourselves locked a proxy battle in Syria, and who has a personal history with the very spy agency that spent decades trying to subvert American democracy, wants us to jump, I say we shouldn’t listen to him. And his desire to take us down by enabling the worst excesses of the Republican Party should be enough to give all of them pause.
If you care about America, if you believe that the aspirational narrative we sold ourselves is worth living up to, if you think that there is greatness left in this nation, you will resist the attempt of a hostile, human-rights abusing, kleptocratic foreign power to cripple our future and rob us of our place in the world. You will fight back against the corruption which has infected our nation’s law enforcement, who leapt at the first opportunity to buck the oversight of the judiciary and work outside the letter of the law knowing they had men backing them who agreed that they “needed to take the gloves off.” You will prevent the party of billionaires from draining all the money from average Americans under the idea that they have a moral imperative to take as much money from your pocket in every economic transaction in the form of “profit.” You will keep fascism from spreading by denying it the oxygen of “open debate,” and you will push against the trend of labeling hate speech and discrimination as free speech and civil rights. You will look at this madness and say, “no. These men do not speak for me.”
And when the time comes, when we next have an election, whether it be in two months or two years, you will throw your vote, your platform, and your community behind the Democratic Party. They are not a perfect political party—we will need to keep their feet to the fire during the primaries—but as those among us who actually follow politics have been screaming nonstop over the last 18 months, casting a Democratic vote is the only thing that stops the truly abhorrent GOP. They really are that bad. 45 is really that bad. Pence is really that bad. Ryan is really that bad. McConnell is really that bad. They are truly horrible people whose self-interest overwhelms any communal sense or true belief in American exceptionalism, and the only chance we have of salvaging this government is to vote them all out and dedicate the next liberal ascendancy to rebuilding all the New Deal institutions that have been shredded in the last 50 years, while also creating new ones to tackle modern challenges, like rebuilding our infrastructure to be beautiful and functional, or getting the internet and smartphones into the hands of all citizens independent of their personal wealth.
We can have a better tomorrow. But learn the lesson of this past election: protest votes, extended campaigns against the Democratic Party, and personal political purity all pale in comparison to giving these monsters the power they need to take away everything good about this country and replace it with violence and oppression. Because while it might not be you today, by the time they get to you there won’t be anyone else left to help your selfish ass. No matter how pure you feel your hands may be.
Jess Stirba is angry that a traitor has the open cooperation of the party in power and as a result they’re okay with selling our nation out to its enemies.