As Trumpism has taught America, perspective can cut you like a knife. For purposes of argument, I don’t believe for two seconds that anyone actually believes The Big Lie. To believe it honestly because you really thought it happened would violate the whole point of the exercise: this is about manufactured “truth”; authoritarian truth which is “whatever the authoritarian says it is”. For reference, authoritarians have to insist on an “alternate set of facts” because actual facts don’t line up with theirs. Every Republican in Congress knows what the Republican Party is actually doing; only two have a problem with it (Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger). But then – also for reference – the entire GOP leadership knew as early as June 25, 2016 (a month before the GOP nominated Trump to be their presidential candidate) that Trump would be a very real, in fact verifiable, national security threat were he to become POTUS. “There’s two people I think Putin pays” is how current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy put it as he entered a room of GOP leaders.
No one at that meeting challenged McCarthy’s accusation that Trump was under Russia’s corrupt influence. No one chose to stand in treason’s way. That is what happened in that room. Literal treason presented itself and the leadership of the Republican Party stood down. If you don’t get in treason’s way, it means you’re either enabling or collaborating with it. The law draws zero distinction. In fact, you don’t even have to be part of a plan to be charged and prosecuted as a co-conspirator. If you even suspected it was happening – and said so out loud to anyone – and then did nothing about it? You have a legal problem.
Inaction equals action. It’s addition via subtraction.
In the Trumpian universe, mob bosses can’t ever be touched because they never actually tell anyone “go commit this crime for me”. They rely on a steady stream of lieutenants to take the fall that they deserve to take. They are bent on cynically using the rule of law itself to gut and destroy the rule of law. Trump’s saving grace is his utter incompetence. Were it not for the stunning ineptitude of every Trumpian (“the best people”, they most definitely are not), America The Democracy would already be done and dusted.
Here’s where a guy like Trump hangs up between his own terrible intentions and his minimal ability to make them happen.
If we consider Trump from Putin’s POV, Trump could be the most useful idiot of all time. Putin’s ambitions are huge: he wants to put the biggest physical buffer he can between Mother Russia and the West. Former parts of the USSR joining NATO terrifies Putin because it makes him feel encircled. Care must always be taken when encircling a rat with nukes. Or with making the rat with nukes feel that way. Putin’s wet dream is a totally toothless America where he, Putin, can stash his massive piles of laundered money without fear of the West seizing them or freezing them. This is Putin’s conundrum (it’s the same conundrum facing every one of Putin’s rich, corrupt oligarch pals). Putin knows he can’t make America militarily useless; so long as we exist, we’ll pose an existential threat – not to Russia, but to Putin and his corrupt oligarch pals.
Putin’s goal is to make America useless in a practical sense. Not useless as a place to hide money (he needs the security and reliability of our banking system), but useless from the rule of law’s point of view. Putin needs the rule of law to break down in order to prove that liberal democracy doesn’t work. He doesn’t need to actually get there to reap the benefits of being there. Disruption. That’s the mission statement atop Putin’s cyber war against America. Whatever disrupts us serves him.
Putin isn’t the only corrupt rich guy watching the proceedings. The Right Wing Money knew exactly what they were doing when they gave up on resisting Trump and willingly drank the Kool-Aid. The Kochs and the Mercers knew all about Trump’s connections to Russia. Hell, they had their own connections to Russia. And, while joining forces with Putin might not have been the right’s first choice as a way to undermine democracy in favor of permanent minority rule, it doesn’t seem like anyone fought off Russia with too much vigor. To this day, no Republican that I’m aware of has done the patriotic thing and called the FBI, aching to spill their guts about the terrible, treasonous things they and their fellow travelers have done.
In a sense, Trump was both useful idiot and useful idiot-maker. He serviced Putin’s hostile needs while actively compromising everyone around him (who knew or in any way participated in what Trump was doing). From the right wing money’s POV, Trump went from being their useful idiot to a totally useless one. By “useless”, I mean that’s how the right wing is going to feel when/if Trump is the cause of them losing their lifestyles, their money and their personal freedom.
Ah, there’s that bloody perspective again! And the picture it paints is clear. From Putin’s perspective, Trump’s as useful an idiot as there will ever be.
From the right wing money’s perspective, Trump was a useful idiot until he wasn’t one.
From America’s POV… the jury’s still out apparently. That kinda makes me think America may already be deep into its own “useful idiot” phase. That’s not a good thing.