Alright I know I kind of made a promise to stop writing about the Trumputin affair, but now that reasonable voices are starting to rein in some of the recent hysteria, and as the goals of the Kremlin become clearer (HINT: It’s more about screwing Hillary than supporting Trump), an interesting picture is starting to emerge.
Trump may have royally screwed up. Possibly due to his advisers’ connections in Moscow and his all too predictable say-the-opposite-of-whatever-the-perceived-establishment-does style of speaking, it’s beginning to look like he may have made a grave miscalculation as to his base and their influence.
When we think of Trump’s base, we often look at the most extreme examples such as the ultra-edgy “alt-right”and the neo-Nazis. This is where you’re most likely to find the anti-American Putin fanboys. They’re seriously alienated by American society and they have bought into the fantasy that Russia somehow embodies the kind of society or values they hold. Trump’s problem is that this demographic, while loud and obnoxious, is rather tiny and holds little sway in politics.
A much larger portion of Trump’s base obviously consists of the more mainstream Republican party base, and this is where the problem lies. These people support Trump because he talks like the pundits they listen to on the radio; he talks tough and shoots from the hip (incidentally this is the worst way to shoot in case you didn’t know). He says he’ll be tough on immigration, stop Muslims from getting into the country, bomb Muslims abroad, and punish the Chinese. This is going to make America “great” again, because it’s apparently less than great at the moment.
It is here that we get to the crux of that problem. That base, the bulk of conservative voters, simply don’t go for the whole “screw America, hooray for Putin” rhetoric. Many of these people still see Russia as the “Cawmyoonist” Soviet Union, headed by an anti-American KGB “agent.” These are people who got pissed about Obama “apologizing” for America in Cairo, and bowing to the king of Saudi Arabia. Hell, those people see Obama as a Marxist agent intent on destroying America. If Obama’s a Marxist and you don’t know that the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, you’re probably not going to be too happy about Trump’s sucking up to the Russians, however superficial it may be.
What is more, Trump has increasingly been portraying himself as the opposite of a “hawk,” but he’s really in the wrong party for that. I don’t want to sound like Sean Hannity here, but speaking as a leftist myself I know that if you want to be genuinely anti-war and stick up for foreign governments over the American government, you’ll find more support on the left. That speaks very poorly for the state of the modern left these days, but it is a fact. By contrast, the vast majority of conservative voters don’t see anything wrong with hawkishness. That’s what makes America great- bombing the shit out of everyone because they failed to recognize that America is America and they didn’t America properly when America told them to America right for the last goddamned American time. They complain about wars when Democrats are leading them, but more often than not they charge them with being too soft, too cautious, too weak.
It’s really starting to look like Trump has fallen into a trap, an outgrowth of the feedback loop between his anti-establishment pro-Russia statements and Russia’s pro-Trump propaganda. This short interview transcript I just picked up off Twitter seems to give us a very vivid image of His Royal Orangeness painting himself into a corner. And what is more, he seems to realize it:
You see that? That’s Trump furiously attempting damage control, trying to balance the pro-Putin stuff that appeals to a loud but tiny part of his base with the typical hawkish tough talk that the much larger base expects and demands. The Russians don’t respect Obama? So how are you going to earn their respect, Donnie? Are you going to earn their respect by caving into their every demand? If so then who next, Agent Orange? The Chinese? ISIS? Mexico? Yes, Orange Julius, you’re going to have to use military force to get that respect, aren’t you? But keep it a “secret” because you don’t want to upset several thousand internet-bound alt-right nerds who fap to photos of Putin and dream of one day moving to Russia to marry a demure, submissive blonde virgin with supermodel looks, excellent cooking skills, and a total lack of self-esteem, dignity, and personal goals. Yes, Mr. Tangerine, you don’t want to lose their vote!
The Russians who think highly of Trump had also better reevaluate their best buddy based on this. Assuming he’s not a total coward who has no intention of backing up any of his showmanship, Trump is probably more likely to start a conflict with Russia, and for the stupidest reason. It may be because “Russia is threatening our strategic mayonnaise reserves.” More likely it will start around 9 May, the reason being that Russia celebrates the victory of the Red Army instead of acknowledging the “true winner of World War II, who is Ronald Reagan, of course.” Oh my little vatniki, won’t you feel stupid then?
Granted, a lot of this is admittedly speculation on my part, based on my own personal experience and knowledge of the American far right and Putinophilia. I’m sure many of those people hate Hillary Clinton so much they’ll swallow their disgust and vote for Trump. Many conservative voters, like most Americans, don’t care about Russia or Putin; those folks may still vote for Trump. But I think there’s bound to be a significant, possibly rising number of Republicans who may turn against Trump or fail to turn up for him on that fateful day in November. They will be those who supported other candidates in the primaries, people who have value conflicts with Trump, and yes, some might see him as “soft on the Reds.” After all, you don’t spend nearly eight years standing around in public dressed as an 18th century Bostonite and screaming “COMMIE! COMMIE! COMMIE!” just to elect a guy who says the “KGB agent” in Moscow is a pretty swell guy. Do I need to bring up the reaction to Obama telling Medvedev he could be more “flexible” after the 2012 election again?
The funniest thing about all this is that as it starts to shape up, it’s all too Kremlin-y, from both sides. Trump is a man unconcerned with reality and the consequences of his words and deeds. Ditto on the Kremlin. They both decide they want something and the world is however they see it. Then they inevitably bite off way more than they can chew and and their desperate, ever-changing denials end up making them into a laughing stock. Trump takes the anti-establishment image to a place where many conservatives won’t follow. As such, he may cost himself the election as a result (let’s hope). The Kremlin, motivated largely by a petty grudge with Hillary Clinton, hilariously finds itself hemmed in by America’s two-party system as it expresses support for a guy who says he’ll shoot down their planes. It’s a tragic comedy practically begging to be made into a screenplay.