Russia Episode 1: Checkpoint

If you follow this interminable Russian saga, you will see that a caricature of Russia has been widely accepted for what appears to be no reason. It seems, to many on the Left, our ancient rival is responsible for virtually everything that goes wrong including the existence of differing opinions. Differing opinions on the internet are usually met with the accusation of having been influenced by “Russian bots” as or people influenced by Trump smokescreen propaganda and “distractionslike North Korea as opposed to just being “people who think differently”.

Right now, this hysteria has a greater presence on the Left. The Right is not as convinced of a legitimate threat as the Left. And the Left, while imagining a concrete threat that is perpetually just around the corner, is absolutely rabid.

As an anecdote, I know people who have stopped talking to their friends and family because they voted for Trump. Statistically, this behavior which seems to be the rule and not the exception. Oddly, there don’t seem to be many conservatives who have stopped talking to their Clintonite or otherwise liberal friends. There is a perhaps-larger-than-we’d-like-to-admit contingent of Americans who are deeply invested, personally and emotionally in this interminable Russian story ending in a way that justifies the energy spent on it. The Left however has more emotion invested in this than the Right does. This is not to say the Right is not emotionally invested in the Russian story, just that if it ever does end,  while both will go no further than eternal denial, the Left’s tailspin will be more erratic than the Right’s.

On one side, the Russian-centric #resistance is the Trump-era birther movement, only this one is considerably more mainstream. If the Muller investigation turns out to be a witch hunt that oversteps its authority and at this stage does not result in evidence beyond reasonable doubt, I expect the spin to be something along the lines of “he was breaking the rules for the right reasons. Its what an investigator is supposed to do” without concern for the precedent that sets when used against you. Once you’ve permitted the use of a witch-hunting, unethical investigator, you’ve no right to complain if your enemy turns one loose on you in the future.

One last thing to expect is a sudden and intense hatred for the rule of law and the concept of innocent until proven guilty (a hatred made into an brutal art form by the MeToo movement). These two foundational elements of our country will have “failed the American people” and the Russians will have “gotten away with tampering in our most sacred institution”. Leaving those hysterics aside “innocent until proven guilty” should ideally keep those driven to punish a man for perceived crimes or to destroy someone for political gain from being able to commit either act. It also help to protect the innocent, even if you’d rather they be treated as though they were guilty.

Pro-Trump types might fare just a bit better if the investigation does not go their way. Now, I admit, that with a new (usually CNN by way of “anonymous sources”) revelation coming out seemingly every day, and each ultimately proving to be more bark than bite, it can be argued that they are “safer” than the other guys. And yet, they should not take refuge in that. It seems easier however, to ask Trump supporters to exercise a bit of caution to with that confidence. I can’t imagine the same emotive, Antifa, BLM, MeToo kind of riot coming from the Right as we’ve seen from the Left in every failure since Trump’s election. I imagine a more petulant and petty form of denial. Perhaps Sean Hannity will “yeah but” his way to another book. The book will be titled “What (really) Happened” just to be cute about it. The conclusion of Russian collusion will be challenged on the, admittedly fair, basis that every single major revelation that came out of CNN was either based on a false premise, had it’s impact greatly exaggerated, or had no impact at all. Therefore, they would claim, any conclusion based on this nothings is illegitimate “fake news”. This would absolutely be petulant stupidity, but it’s a safer form of denial than what we might see from the often insidious and destructive #resistance.

To be clear, if evidence goes against Trump in this matter, it is possible, even likely that the investigation will have compiled more and, in a revolutionary twist, actionable evidence that there was collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians. I just don’t imagine that happening anytime soon. If the plot hasn’t developed in two years, one can at least assume it isn’t going to develop anytime soon.

Here is why I am a bit reserved on the idea of “evidence of collusion” finally surfacing. Because at this point, after endless, and I do mean endless barking about how Trump is “not my president” and a “Russian puppet” at ever increasing frequency and volume, it will not suffice to present a case that says Trump sent an email to Putin at some point before the election. For there to be any significant backlash against the Trump administration and it’s most fervent supporters, it doesn’t need to simply “point” in the direction of Trump, it needs to essentially place Trump at the Kremlin, on camera with Putin in 4K, for longer than one hour, in context, talking plainly about screwing with the election. Some dumb email with an aide won’t cut it.

One last consideration: the 2020 midterms. Even then, both sides have their own responses pre-cooked. If nothing comes around by the midterms, quite frankly I’m not sure what the anti-Trump types are going to do. By then, I imagine, most of the country, and even some on the left will be absolutely exhausted by “Russia, Russia, Russia. Everything is Russia. Are you aware of Russia, you should be aware of Russia”, that there’s no way that helps them. By the way, how exhausting was that sentence to read? Imagine that, but repeated over 2 years and you get the idea.

If something does come around, but just happens to fall early in November 2020 or late October 2020. The Left will essentially justify the kind of killer strike they decried when it befell the Queen-to-not-be Hillary Clinton. Of course, the pro-Trumpers will decry the attack they once celebrated.

Broadening before we close, the Russian story is the perfect example of what one gets when both sides are emotionally invested in the destruction or salvation of the representation of their political beliefs or hatreds. The hashtag resiast-ahnce sees itself as a plucky, ragtag bunch of people fighting for truth and justice against a caricature of what their targets actually are, they have expelled the people who disagree with them from their lives, and in doing have invested so much emotionally and personally into this case ending the way they want it to. More broadly, the Left is so fanatical about Trump’s failure, that the only other major story they seem to have is the one about Stormy Daniels.

The pro-Trump side has a bit less to lose in this regard because they have more to fall back on. Where the Left is now entirely invested in the Russian story, they were invested in North Korea three months ago when Trump and Kim traded text messages. Then everything started looking up, the two Korean leaders met at the border and a historic summit between the sitting US president and Kim Jong Un was scheduled. After three American prisoners were freed and Trump thanked his North Korean counterpart, mere months after lambasting him for insulting the NoKo president, they were now lambasting him for thanking him for releasing the prisoners as a sort of good-faith gesture. If the pro-Trump movement can keep the larger picture in view until 2020, with only a passing glance at CNN’s latest Russian “bombshell” as an example of what the alternative is, there are few things that could stand in the way of victory for those who stand by Trump. And isn’t that just an indictment on where American politics stands in 2018?

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