For more context, start with How Trump’s Idea for a Photo Op Led to Havoc in a Park from the New York Times.
Recent events show that the current and impeached President of the United States not only takes the word of Russia’s Caudillo over the word of all U.S. intelligence services, but also prefers his counsel to America’s elected officials and even some of his own partisan political advisors. This devout admiration, obsequiously evident during the July 2018 Helsinki summit, apparently holds for U.S. domestic unrest as well as campaign strategies and global political military affairs.
On Monday morning, June 1st, multiple news sources report this same President held “a friendly chat” with campaign supporter and Russian strongman Vladimir Putin. Shortly after, he held a call with governors in his own country” where the President angrily insisted “You have to dominate, if you don’t dominate you’re wasting your time. They’re going to run over you. You’re going to look like a bunch of jerks. You have to dominate.”
During the same call, U.S. Defense Secretary, Mark Esper, briefed the same governors bringing the vocabulary of open warfare within a second Civil War context to the American heartland, “the sooner that you mass and dominate the battlespace, the quicker this dissipates and we can get back to the right normal.” The existential problem facing America’s more restrained governors and their citizens in both Red and Blue states: nobody knows what the “right normal” is anymore, apart from the Russian version, but everyone feels the abandonment and destruction of nationwide battlespaces up close and personal.
America reels from conjoined diseases, first as the world’s COVID-19 pandemic epicenter (over 110,000 dead, 1.8 million infected, insufficient testing, no tracing, no vaccine, and no national strategy to combat any of this). Equal terrifying for its communities of color victims with over 40 million unemployed, American democracy has further degraded and subdivided into solidified racially zip-coded, socioeconomic winners and losers. Arbitrarily selected and subjected to video-documented, brutal, and lethal public lynching by armed white police, America’s rising majority-minorities also succumb disproportionally to a virus exploiting preexisting economic class conditions.
True to his word, the current and impeached President of the United States practiced what he preached. Later that same fateful Monday but in the afternoon, federal police acting on his orders teargassed and fired at peaceful demonstrators protesting white supremist police brutality. The U.S. Attorney General commanded gratuitous street “law and order” violence intending to showcase his President exiting the White House, walking through Lafayette Park and staging a photo-op holding up a bible he’s never read, in front of a church he’s been to only once before. That was back in January 2017 on the day when the newly inaugurated President described his vision for American carnage to the waiting world.
Just like they came for our elections in 2016 and prevailed, Russia is practicing advanced cyber cultural warfare upon a supine United States to pick off domestic winners and losers. Operating in social media manipulation overdrive, Russia intends to reelect the incumbent by injecting democracy protocols with virulent strains of America’s failing polemic culture. The two most recent faces of Russian-manipulated confrontation, Antifa on the Left and Boogaloo Bois on the Right, stand in as avatars for America’s twin cultural Achilles heels: embedded lethal racism and greed-infested socioeconomic inequalities. For Putin, there is no trade to make when the goal is doubling down on both.
While Russia consistently outguns the U.S. geopolitically with consistent assists by America’s President, China is out to repurpose the nation’s pocketbook holding America’s credit at its fingertips. A complex Hobbesian choice becomes a biblical no-brainer. Russia’s unvarnished electoral support for Mr. Trump, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”, elicits an ironclad partisan nectar of forgiveness starting from the Republican Party’s conservative evangelical amen corner who would rather cling to power at any moral cost than lose on principle. Right wing American Protestant and Russian Orthodox true enablers become fifth column fellow travelers.
The White House we have chooses to renew its quadrennial subscription to Putin’s realpolitik through two potent ploys. First, by depriving the country of any national leadership during a biomedical pandemic while doing everything to guarantee vulnerable communities of color are the hardest hit. Second, by putting its official weighty thumb on the scale of justice, similar to its now derided and tainted Muller Report preview, declaring that Antifa on the Left is responsible without any mention of white supremacy cults and gangs wrecking coordinated havoc upon targeted precariat neighborhoods in Northern cities.
Apparently, nothing is easier to achieve than race-grilling failed state America’s raw, skinned culture, already shredded and stripped by official fiery tweets and daily biomedical pestilence conspiracies. The bet is that pure chaos will support the caudillo on horseback. The bet is that deliberate social upheaval within a society already weakened by a pandemic that accounts for more deaths than the Vietnam and Korean Wars combined but in one trimester, will stampede civic society consensus and solidarity over vote-counting electoral cliffs.
Whipping the nation into a virus-violence frenzy remains the great white hope redux for the campaign to reelect this President. Three plus years of naked voter suppression, extreme gerrymandering, economic oxygen-depriving coronavirus stimulus “trickle-down,” non-stop and documented Oval Office mendacity echoed by Fox News fact-free propaganda and unabashed support for ethnocentric nationalism “blood and soil” have proven necessary but still insufficient to making America finally great for a select few whites again.
The new campaign playbook declares Russian-inspired martial law, orders the U.S. military to fire on American citizens in America, postpones or subverts elections using seized, undefined and uncheckable powers to lockdown the republic, imprisons political opponents, lifts the leg of the caudillo’s steed to urinate on demoralized democracy and drags the whipped country full stop to the collection plate so that winner takes all.
Perhaps these are grounds for a second impeachment, but the Confederate Senate Majority Leader from Kentucky will most likely disagree. Once again like the Merrick Garland U.S. Supreme Court vote that never happened, it is about “a principle, not a person” and the process must not “politicize it for purposes of the election.”