Russia Derangement Syndrome

The #MAGA crowd has a nickname for what they see as the irrational hatred liberals have for their Lord and Savior, Donald J. Trump. They call it “Trump Derangement Syndrome.” In their eyes, the left is inexplicably apoplectic because their Great Leader is somehow making America great again by giving away trillions to billionaires, bankrupting the treasury, and by not making Mexico pay for a wall.

#MAGA-heads can rationalize this because they see everything the emotionally incontinent toddler-in-chief does as an act of political genius and can’t imagine that anyone would think otherwise, even though any rational person would almost always think the opposite of whatever Trump rage-tweets at three in the morning.

While “Trump Derangement Syndrome” is a figment of the #MAGA-heads’ imaginations, there is a real, or at least more real, affliction running rampant among the left wing, and I call it “Russia Derangement Syndrome.” There are, in fact, two very difference strains of the illness.

The first afflicts those who unquestioningly swallowed the fairy tale of Hillary Clinton’s “inevitable-ness,” both establishment Democrats and those that thought her gender alone made her ascension into a reason for celebration.

For these people, the “Russia-gate” scandal provides a convenient excuse for why “The Inevitable One” lost the presidency to a reality-show clown. Never mind the fact that there is no evidence that Russian interference played a decisive role in the 2016 election, there is also the reality that the election was close enough for the Russians to possibly have played role, that The Inevitable One didn’t utterly curb-stomp the most easily beatable Republican candidate since Barry Goldwater.

The Russia scandal gives the establishment wing of the Democratic Party a convenient excuse not to examine Hillary Clinton’s many shortcomings as candidate or their own ideological bankruptcy.

But the other wing of left-wing American politics, the Bernie-crat progressives, often suffers from its own version of “Russia Derangement Syndrome.” Progressive personalities like Jimmy Dore and Kyle Kulinski of Secular Talk can be counted upon to do an audible eye-roll at the slightest mention of Russiagate or Russian collusion with the Trump administration.

Those afflicted with the progressive strain of this syndrome seem to reflexively reject any suggestion that the Russia scandal is serious as the Democrats making excuses or the establishment justifying a more hawkish foreign policy stance toward Moscow.

To be fair, both concerns are justified to a degree. I’ve already covered the establishment strain of the syndrome, and those afflicted with it, like Rachel Maddow, have engaged in overheated rhetoric that is unfortunately reminiscent of the Cold War.

The problem is that victims of both strains see the issue without shades of gray. The Russia scandal is either an assault on the very foundations of our democracy, or it’s just smoke-and-mirrors meant to distract us from the real issues or to justify a more hawkish stance toward Russian (and presumably greater defense spending).

The problem with coming down on either side too hard is that both sides have very valid arguments. There’s no doubt that Hillary Clinton loyalists and establishment Democrats love to flog every alarmist story about Russian election meddling because it distracts from their abysmal failure in 2016 and the reality that their anointed candidate was not an effective campaigner, and she is the face of the Democratic Party’s past, not its future.

And the establishment media has been too quick to brand the Russian meddling as an “attack on our democracy” and an “act of war.” If meddling in elections is an “act of war,” then the United States committed acts of war against Iran in 1953 and Chile in 1973, just to name the countries that spring most readily to mind.

However, even if the Russian government’s efforts to either influence or subvert our 2016 election don’t rise to level of international aggression, any attempt by a foreign country to interfere with an American presidential election is cause for alarm and hopefully would stir to country to the appropriate action.

“Appropriate action,” is this case, does not include hysterical cries about “acts of war.” It should include understanding how it was done and how our presidential elections are vulnerable. I’ll give you a hint on the last one. It’s called the Electoral College. As I have explained elsewhere, this rickety kluge makes our democracy unacceptably vulnerable to potential chicanery.

Personally, I’m skeptical that the investigations into Russian election meddling will reach the Oval Office. If the Russians were or are running an intelligence operation against our election system, and it was supposed to be covert operation, Donald Trump is last person I would want to have any information, given how leaky his mouth tends to be.

Of course, that doesn’t let Cheeto Mussolini off the hook. Richard Nixon did not personally break into the DNC headquarters at the Watergate. It was the blatant obstruction of justice that did in Tricky Dick, and Trump’s many obstructions make Nixon look like a total slacker in that department. I doubt that Trump is really worried about the Russian investigation as it relates to the election, but if the investigation reaches his finances, it could expose how much of his supposed fortune is a castle built upon the sands of money laundering for the Russian oligarchs who’ve financed some of his properties. Seeing his fraudulent claims to being a great businessman exposed as a lie would be humiliating for Trump, and the 45th president has a low pain threshold when it comes to humiliation.

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