So, has anyone else noticed that the Trump election/Russia story keeps going… nowhere? I’m the first to admit that Trump’s performance in office is really less than ideal. But once again the vitriol about the Presidency seems to be descending into senselessness.
For instance, the FBI, once the source of the cock-up which got Trump into office (thanks, Comey), is now supposedly the most reliable source of information that will supposedly protect our democracy. Indeed, all intelligence agencies are now apparently fountainheads of truth. Nevermind that the FBI has long been a tool for the political suppression of minority groups and labor activism, or that the CIA provided Congress and the President with lies about the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
Newspapers like the New York Times have been quick to latch on to the Russia trail as well, taking a speculative assessment by a select group of analysts from the intelligence community as irrefutable proof that Putin had a hand in the election. The document compiled by the 16 agencies in fact reads that their “judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact. Assessments are based on collected information, which is often incomplete or fragmentary, as well as logic, argumentation and precedents.” Really? Is this the most we have to go on? This might explain why the CIA was able to track a Chinese military hack down to a single People’s Army building, but has yet to provide concrete evidence of “where” any Russian hack may have emanated from precisely.
The double standards go on and on. We’ve rightly charged our President with nativism and insularity, while making Russia a public enemy. Up until 2008-12, détente was the general policy with regards post-Communist Russia, but now such is apparently unthinkable (though cuddling up to a regime like Iran’s is apparently OK, and distancing ourselves from it is a mistake). Putin is a monster, while other dictatorial leaders do not appear to be worthy of remark.
We seem to keep talking about things that really are besides the point. We’re still not talking about the content of DNC emails, for instance. While Russia’s involvement in the elections is up in the air, it has been pretty firmly established that the DNC colluded to keep Bernie out, and push Hillary to the top. Indeed, it’s been a year, and the Times is just now getting around to asking if “fake news” stories or social media really had that much of an impact. The same party that is screaming up and down that the US population was smart enough to grant Hillary 3 million more votes is also dumb enough to believe anything that pops up on a Facebook or Twitter feed.
The resulting atmosphere I see around me is intellectually nihilistic at best, unprincipled at worst. Standing up on a soapbox declaring our right to an election result of our choosing is taking a political matter and frankly depoliticizing it. We keep trying to take a matter of politics – that is, the points of intersection between citizens – and turning it into a legal battle over an ideological position. It’s taking that ballot and turning it into a pawn. Can we take a minute to remember that voting in national elections qualify as perhaps the most mundane form of political engagement imaginable? Yes they are important, but if we see them as our only way of rectifying the problem we have with our President, then we might as well kiss 2020 goodbye. There are local elections, there are school-boards, there are community organizations, there are non-profits – there are any number of ways for us to be involved and ensure that our own backyards are taken care of.
(I realize this has nothing to do with music, so here’s some Billy Budd to help you get depressed, etc.)