According to selected members of the “US intelligence community” (“selected” for their loyalty to, and willingness to promote the line of, the Democratic Party establishment) Vladimir Putin and the Russian government just love them some Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. Can’t get enough of ’em. If November is a Trump/Sanders shoot-out, the Kremlin wins either way.
Yes, it’s silly. It might even be funny if so many people didn’t take it so seriously and if it wasn’t so on the nose in aping Joe McCarthy’s Red Scare tactics.
Here’s why it’s silly: Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are also much beloved by those meddling kids (yes, I grew up watching Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!).
No, not the Russians. The voters.
Like K-pop and post-Roseanne The Conners, I find the appeal of the two northeastern authoritarian septuagenarians inexplicable, but it’s very real.
Despite Herculean efforts by the Democratic National Committee to put anyone but Bernie over the top for its presidential nomination, by hook or crook, he’s winning primaries and caucuses and leading in the national polls.
In states where anyone’s even allowed to challenge Trump, he’s pulling 85-95% support from Republican voters.
The Republican establishment went through an agonizing process in 2016, eventually coming to terms with having its party taken over and remade. By Trump, yes, but more importantly by Trump’s voters.
The Democratic National Committee’s “success” in 2016 was also a double failure: It managed to rig the presidential primary contest to ensure that its preferred candidate won the nomination, but it couldn’t carry the general election and couldn’t bring itself to accept responsibility for that. It was easier to blame !THEM RUSSIANS! for Hillary Clinton’s failure than to admit that Democratic voters weren’t enthusiastic about her and didn’t turn out for her in the needed numbers.
And the DNC still hasn’t read the memo. Having abjectly failed to make Kamala Harris, Joe Biden, or Elizabeth Warren palatable to pluralities, it’s still trying to whip those meddling voters into line behind Pete Buttigieg or Amy Klobuchar instead of accepting Bernie as their choice. Now, in desperation, it’s playing the “Russian meddling” card again.
Is there foreign meddling in American elections? Presumably so, and by several governments, just like there’s American government meddling in foreign elections. The only countries which don’t experience foreign meddling in their elections are countries which don’t hold real elections.
But in the case of US elections, the Russian meddling doesn’t even rise to the level of background noise, let alone to the level of excuse for the losing candidate’s defeat.
Interested in meddling? OK, let’s talk about meddling.
Over the last 130 years or so, the two “major” parties have conspired to limit voters’ choices with “ballot access” laws, exclusory beauty pageants disguised as “debates,” etc., such that both internal dissidents and “third party” candidates are severely handicapped from the start and seldom win “major” party primaries or break into double digits in November.
That’s meddling for real. But suddenly it isn’t working reliably anymore. Poetic justice, perhaps?
Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.