Russian Election-Hacking Bingo, Conspiracies For Liberals

With giddy pride, liberals have deservedly vilified an expansive sea of right-wing conspiracy theories. But it now appears those seditious chickens have come home to a roost of left-wing treachery. Modern liberalism has become a hospitable nesting place for paranoia in the months since President Donald Trump’s election. With vociferous oratory growing in the weeks after his inauguration, left-wing talk show hosts and liberal pundits have stoked the base to a level of conspiratorial thinking previously thought reserved for conservative talk radio.

It’s accepted and odds-on that Russian president Vladimir Putin strived to influence the 2016 election, and we know with great confidence some members of Donald Trump’s campaign team had ties to Russian business interests, maybe even the Russian government. Still there is no evidence to connect the Trump campaign to Russia’s hacking of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), or to Putin’s intent to sway the election results, even if very few on the Left doubt this is exactly what happened. It’s as if liberals stole the Cold War mantle from conservatives along with their penchant for good vs. evil reasoning.

Perhaps most revealing of all are the Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee — charged with investigating these matters — who recently told BuzzFeed how petrified they are of what the Democratic base will do if they do not find evidence of collusion, as they now suspect will likely be the case. “There’s a tangible frustration over what one official called ‘wildly inflated’ expectations surrounding the panel’s fledgling investigation,” BuzzFeed’s Ali Watkins wrote. -Glenn Greenwald, Key Democratic Officials Now Warning Base Not to Expect Evidence of Trump/Russia Collusion (The Intercept)

There is an unrelenting Trump-Russia obsession afflicting millions of left-leaning Americans. It is not as much about truth-seeking as it is about ending Trump’s presidency. Hope upon hope for the numbers to align, where one day they can emphatically proclaim “BINGO!” to the world. But what if that moment never comes? What if there was no Trump-Russia collusion? Some liberals reading this are already shaking their heads. But this is the problem with being slave to intrigue, it dulls our truth acuity, distracting us from other weighty affairs.

Conspiracy theories disempower people. In a worldview shaped by conspiracy theories, political leaders can get away with making bad decisions by simply blaming invisible, putatively powerful enemies conspiring against them. What makes conspiracy-theory politics more dangerous than ideological politics (and lest we forget, the 20th century showcased just how deadly extreme ideologies can be) is that conspiracy theories can be dazzling in explaining what has happened and who should be blamed. But they lack any kind of vision for the future or any claim about what kind of world we want to live in. – Ivan Krastev, The Rise of the Paranoid Citizen (New York Times)

There is a blunt reality liberals must face. We do not service our principles and purpose by endlessly consuming manic anti-Trump assertions nightly on MSNBC. That’s because nothing short of a smoking gun will sink Trump’s presidency. If there is gold in this mine, we should excavate it, as Rachel Maddow does nightly, although sometimes veering into aggrandizement, often to the delight of her audience. Maddow’s “Trump 2005 tax return” scoop on Tuesday evening is one such example. The political universe was inundated with speculation about what it might show, including possible links to Russia. By 9:30pm, more was revealed about our precepts than Trump’s finances.

We need to refocus. Less than two months into Trump’s reign, we need to take a good long look at where we are heading. We must not fixate on a singular vector as the panacea to Trump impeachment, as doing so blurs potentially more effective avenues of reproach. Let’s not allow an unwavering Trump-Russia dogma to transform us into a new American confederacy of irrational thought.


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