THE TRUMP BLUEPRINT: VLADIMIR PUTIN
In as much as I’m not a bona fide writer and as a result lacking the bandwidth to perform due diligence and research, let’s call this an opinion peace. However, having an acute appetite for geo-political affairs since about 11 years old in 1978 I’m pretty versed in this stuff from then to now (McNeil-Lehrer report was my favorite show in 6th grade).
President Trump should actually be fond of the media that played a major role in his win via the reality TV approach to campaigning; the tail wagged the dog. I too have gotten caught up in the circus. It’s safe to say that my wife has had her share of me coming home straight for the big top Trump addiction. I’d never watched reality TV before. Is it a circus or strategy? On one hand I proceed with trepidation in anything that wreaks of conspiracy because that’s for the people who see black helicopters right? It’s prudent to examine myself. Yet on the other hand, far smarter dogs have been wagged by Mr. Trump. After all the media takes the bait, hook, line, and sinker. When this administration said terror wasn’t being covered what happened? The media showed much of the coverage they’d already done. It’s like arguing with a liar. Me, you, and yes, the media – all keep doing it.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt utilized radio to catapult himself into history as a 3-term POTUS. John Fitzgerald Kennedy did the same with television to become the youngest POTUS ever as the son of a bootlegger gone clean. Given his name, some cannot believe that Barack Hussein Obama understood and optimized social media in becoming the first African-American POTUS. Although I’m not sure Dequan Jackson would have yielded the same outcome – I digress. Donald Trump understood reality TV (and low information voters) and produced a Presidency. He understood that being outrageous gets more views. He understood that the villain gets more ink. He doubled-down on the outrageous. It isn’t extraordinary that one can be a prodigy in one discipline and inept in another. Let’s not get lost in the irrelevant real estate empire but instead recognize that Donald Trump has emerged as the most uninformed POTUS ever, moreover amateurish. Further, beyond low hanging fruit like sexism and pathological lying – integrity and character should be hallmarks and prerequisites for being POTUS.
Citizens be wary. Whether ancient Mesopotamia, the Roman Empire, or Greece, great civilizations have presided over their own demises in failing to embrace transformation. Consider Trump’s cabinet prototypical of this argument. As for a chilling fictional reference, I see tremendous comparisons to a read from about 12 years old, “Animal Farm”. Next level: Hitler was Hitler no matter how you dressed him up. Hitler was smart. Steve Bannon is really smart. Whether it’s You Deserve a Break Today or I’m Loving It; it’s the same McDonald’s. Whether it’s Fahrvergnugen or Drivers Wanted; it’s the same Volkswagen. Whether it’s Finger Lickin’ Good or We do Chicken Right; it’s the same KFC. Whether it’s Nazis, KKKs, and skinheads or Alt-Right (nationalism); it’s the same people. People who now sit at the right hand of the POTUS. Steve Bannon rebranded it straight to the White House.
I think Trump wants to be Putin. WINNING a 2nd term may very well not be his plan [Austin Powers (Dr. Evil) pinky in corner of mouth]. Perhaps that’s why they are moving so fast! While he does care about how big his crowd is or whether Mr. Schwarzenegger has higher ratings, he does not care about public opinion. The canvas is in place, four years isn’t that long, and they’ve come out of the gate on fire slinging paint. The annoying demonstrations by small people and intrusive questions by the dishonest liberal media pawns are no more than gnats that vex him. America’s hope lies in its democratic DNA that no matter how flawed, has functioned far longer than the Russian brand in 2000 when Putin came to power in the Kremlin. Right now it’s all too important that average citizens remain vigilant in defense of our political system.
Like Mr. Trump, Mr. Putin was elected as a political outsider during economic uncertainly (perceived or real). Putin ran on and promised the strong arm of the law and the promise of economic resurgence upon his immediate arrival in office (“day one” theme). To Mr. Putin’s credit, he did improve some things with new economic policy, but it came at the expense of great losses to their newly formed democracy (democracy light anyway). He rode a blowback storm to office. And almost immediately into Putin’s reign if you will, he began to roll back the independence of his country’s media. It was incremental but slowly became the stuff of an autocracy. He put his friends and political allies in power regardless of experience and began to kill enemies and challengers.
Mr. Trump mentioned being able to shoot someone and still get elected – as if he’d seen the blueprint. And yes, this kind of language from an American Presidential candidate is fairly raucous and ominous especially given Trump’s pension for revenge and inability to let things go. Further, taking note of the people whom Mr. Trump is surrounding himself with gives reasonable view to the beginning of an Autocracy. Some say that the best prediction of future behavior is past behavior. Widely publicized issues surrounding his cabinet level picks and the ways in which they all seem to act with impunity; when compared to Russia would be the equivalent of corruption. It’s not a big leap. This above the law standard, corruption, isn’t really illegal but a way of life in Russia.
Some animals are more equal than others. ~ Animal Farm.
The greatest challenge to the success of post-Soviet Union Russia is the systemic corruption plaguing the country. It looks no different in a country like that than the nomination of a person like Mike Price in the US, the pushing through (a high-level gift) of someone like Betsy DeVos, or the behavior of General Flynn. Corruption has been a linchpin of all the former Soviet states, some more than others. It hasn’t been true democracy. Stateside, we are now even seeing congress cower to the supreme leader. In a democracy an opposition party is likely to fight corruption (like selling the first daughter’s clothing line from the White House or leasing a hotel from the government you run). An independent press is likely to expose ills committed (like splitting up families or the facts about taking away health insurance). And independent courts both expose corruption and balance power constitutionally (rule of law as in the stay of the travel ban). The keys to fighting corruption are democratic institutions with multi-party systems (now we’ve gone nuclear like Putin’s party), an independent press (now designated enemy of the state), and independent courts (designated Kangaroo if in opposition with the White House). This strategy has been at the root of Vladimir Putin’s stalwart ideology and grasp of power. These things are rolled out gradually, although Trump seems to be full-throttle. And, the degree intensifies along the way.
Now that Bannon has his troops rallied and poised to fight, I would not be surprised to see a militia of sorts formed to stand in the place of the National Guard for ‘special’ circumstances, especially circumstances counter to the humanity of those enlisted. I have lived in Oklahoma and North Carolina; traveled regularly to Georgia, Alabama, and Arkansas; and now reside in Tennessee. Citizens sympathetic to the Alt-Right with ATV’s, assault rifles, and confederate flags are plentiful. Sometimes I wonder if they know something I don’t -,feuled by recently emboldened behaviors in this political climate. And like the Alt-Right in the United States, the growth of far right Nationalist movements in Europe seem to be threatening and unraveling what has kept them together for so long.
Similar to today’s Republican Party, Putin is vexed by what he sees as a progressive liberal agenda. But instead of blue states in the US, it’s the Western Liberal order from Poland to France and even to Sweden. Like traction the tea party had stateside, when you consider Brexit and the general temperature of things, the far right in Europe has had a pretty good run of late. Obama inspired nationalist ideology is to the Bannon-Trump interests, as is anti-EU far right to Vladimir Putin’s interests. Some even believe that Putin has been positioning himself as the leader of a global conservative movement. I think Mr. Trump is his pawn, but wants to be like him. At the very least it’s a synergistic partnership.
Mr. Trump began saying that NATO is weak and other countries should pay their fair share during his campaign. Mr. Putin has made sure that strategies in Europe to weaken the EU and dissolve NATO have been funded by Russian banks – proof of real support versus rhetoric. But there’s a major problem with Putin’s (and Trump’s) claim that NATO is no longer relevant. The plausible argument would be the absence of the former Soviet Union at the doorstep of Europe still yielding great influence to former block nations. But given the annexation of Crimea and Russia’s move into Eastern Ukraine that argument has to walk the plank. This furthers tension between the POTUS and senior republican leadership (so far bullied by Trump), and is especially a problem for Senator John McCain who traveled to Ukraine to shore up the promise of US support. Democracy may just hang in the balance of what the likes of the Senator is willing to do – or not.
Because there is so much riding on the existence of NATO the European response has been pretty stout and unified. After the annexation of Crimea there was a fear that Europe’s dependence on Russian oil would result in an indifferent reaction. After all, Europe relies on Russia for about 30% of its oil and for some countries it’s over 50% (this is from memory – you can check those current stats). In an attempt to address the situation and support the NATO alliance Mr. Obama issued sanctions on Russia citing interference with the US election. And as it turns out, at nearly the same time Mr. Flynn was having conversations with Mr. Putin to essentially say never mind those sanctions (before Trump took office). It’s no secret that oil (money) is indeed a major source of control and influence. Note that the 911 culprits were majority Saudi yet Saudi didn’t make the travel ban list. Mr. Trump needs an expert at his side – enter strong man Rex Tillerson. It’s about the oil baby and Rex knows how to manage it! Mr. Trump has talked about taking the oil in Iraq and Mr. Putin has made himself one of the richest if not the richest person on earth – largely due to simply taking companies (oil companies). Exxon has materially taken over small countries (peacefully) in the world via the oil strings and new legislation is undermining past requirements of full disclosure of money paid to other countries by US Oil companies. Mr. Trump hatching malaise in those countries to give him a reason, if you will, is not a preposterous intimation.
Another intriguing aspect of it all has been the substantial man-crush Mr. Trump seems to have on Mr. Putin. And as a result (or a denied friendship) it seems Putin is rethinking Russian policy and stance regarding the United States. To date he’d led the charge and quickly fueled anti-western sentiment in Russia after coming to power. Ultimately it’s more individual political actors and circumstances that shape international relations than it is the tide of a regime if you will, unless the regime is an individual. And Mr. Trump in my opinion is looking to mirror as much. In a recent interview with Bill O’Reilly, the POTUS continued in his lightly cloaked admiration and tepidly defended tight rope walk to say nothing ill of Mr. Putin. Here are a few excerpts:
O’Reilly: Do you respect Putin?
Trump: I do respect him but —
O’Reilly: Do you? Why?
Trump: Well, I respect a lot of people but that doesn’t mean I’m going to get along with him. He’s a leader of his country. I say it’s better to get along with Russia than not. And if Russia helps us in the fight against ISIS, which is a major fight, and Islamic terrorism all over the world — that’s a good thing. Will I get along with him? I have no idea.
O’Reilly: But he’s a killer though. Putin’s a killer.
Trump: There are a lot of killers. We’ve got a lot of killers. What do you think — our country’s so innocent. You think our country’s so innocent?
O’Reilly: I don’t know of any government leaders that are killers.
Trump: Well — take a look at what we’ve done too. We made a lot of mistakes. I’ve been against the war in Iraq from the beginning.
O’Reilly: But mistakes are different than —
Trump: A lot of mistakes, but a lot of people were killed. A lot of killers around, believe me.
Prior to the election a friend’s Facebook post read: Trump can’t do that. Did Trump just do that? Which district are you headed to?
It’s about picking us off in parts. The wall could be Mexicans, Resisting arrest discretion could be Black people, rolling back insurance/protections could be LGBTQ, Planned Parenthood could be women, denying the Holocaust could be Jews, and the travel ban could be Muslims. We all know this one:
they came first for the Communists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;
And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;
And then they came for the Jews, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;
And then . . . they came for me . . . And by that time there was no one left to speak up.
Yet encouraged I saw this recent Facebook post:
It’s terrifying to see the existing meager boards of protection for vulnerable people be methodically taken down. If my white skin can be your shield in the movement for truth and justice then call on me.
Not only is that last post encouraging, the world is smaller and no one really wants a dictator. The Chinese no longer promote anti-democratic rhetoric. They simply promote their own and sound the drum of be patient with us where not there yet – doesn’t happen overnight. Even Russia promotes its own form of democracy Russian style – that while Trump may desire is too far from freedom for American citizens. So in my view the only alternative to our democratic way of life is in fact, the theocratic style of ISIS. It’s possible that our Magician-In-Chief will soon lose the approach to fighting ISIS as a dividing line as well. While we still have a significant part of the population frustrated in our country, as Mr. Trump continues to expose himself I believe his ‘bet’ on the worst in Americans is bound to lose and his strong 45% or so will dwindle to under 20% or so (which is still too high). I hope we don’t see desperate measures beforehand. From brother Malcom X, I offer a message to my struggling white brothers and sisters who feel left behind having been sold falsehoods of immigration, affirmative action, or other misrepresentations:
Oh, I say and I say it again, ya been had!
Ya been took!
Ya been hoodwinked!
He didn’t start it but this is President Trump’s game and Steve Bannon is the Maestro: Divide and conquer/rule –
a way of keeping yourself in a position of power by making the people under you disagree with each other so that they are unable to join together and remove you from your position. A small minority continues to govern by a policy of divide and conquer.
At a certain point he won’t have to divide us anymore. We will have given him the power, all of us. Let’s not sleep on this folks. The writing is on the wall. And Mr. Trump could not care less about what any of us think. The good news is that we’re already riding on a strong chassis of democracy. Unless we continue to give him what he wants, what I submit above is a tall order. But if we continue to allow fear, hate, and intolerance to guide us; then we’ll continue to allow Mr. Trump to guide us. On the other hand, for all of our complications, we’re still the country to bet on. Mr. Trump represents the worst in us; greed, intolerance, selfishness, arrogance, and more.
To my educated progressive brothers and sisters, don’t be so ivory-tower arrogant. The elitist element was harmful in the election. More advice from brother Malcom: l
Don’t be in a hurry to condemn because he doesn’t do what you do or think as you think or as fast. There was a time when you didn’t know what you know today.
It has been my goal to put this together without a favored political lean. I hope it was read in that light. As a matter of fact, I’m a Republican. But like the Oldsmobile slogan, this is not your father’s Oldsmobile; this is not my Republican party. Because I haven’t written anything in quite some time I’ll stop here – feeling a little disjointed and less effective.