An iconic photo of two stupid old straight white men at Trump’s Ohio rally last week wearing t-shirts reading, “I’d rather be a Russian than a Democrat,” says it all: sadly, the Republican Party has become the Russian Party.
In its zeal to defend Trump in order to foist a cruel, radical anti-regulation, anti-entitlements agenda, the Republican Party leadership signed its party’s death warrant. Desperation has not only driven a lust for immediate, radical short-term gain, but is also a reaction to the nation’s longer-term demographic trend that will soon turn Texas as blue (Democratic) as California. No wonder Trump’s latest move is to deny voting rights to legal immigrants.
About a decade ago GOP leaders had to choose either to win the rising Hispanic vote with programmatic initiatives, or to try to suppress it. They chose the latter, unable to resist catering the viscerally racist reaction by large parts of its base to the election of President Obama. The rise of the Tea Party resulted, including the legitimization of the “alt-right,” that gave birth to the lunatic “Freedom Caucus” wing of the GOP in Congress, followed by the election, with a heavy boost from Moscow, of Trump.
The lunatic wing was thus sprung from two percent of the electorate to 25 percent, although mostly composed of stupid old straight white males now dying off at an accelerating rate (a fact, not that we wish it). Stripped of all attenuating factors, that’s Trump’s base at its waning peak.
Where did this come from? Scholars, historians and citizens are going to have to take a hard look at this, because so far, no one has indicated they have a clue. I have my view, having been in the thick of what I think was a fundamental cultural (better, countercultural) sea change that happened in the 1970s, largely the result of highest-level decisions made to quell the civil rights, anti-war and social justice ferment of the late 1960s. A robust counter-revolutionary offensive was launched, rooted in tools developed at earlier points by right-wing currents of the U.S. intelligence and military establishments aligned with the McCarthyism of the 1950s and J.Edgar Hoover. They used “Cold War” rhetoric to bash carryovers of FDR’s New Deal in hopes of undoing all of its social safety nets.
The demands for a radically egalitarian society that arose from the 1960s ferment, and not some fear of a Soviet-inspired communist revolution, is what drove these counter-revolutionary forces to act.
This is where the Russians (Soviets, then) first entered the picture in the U.S….not on the side of “revolution,” but on the side of the reactionary establishment in a cynical but effective form of infiltration and influence peddling.
Under the guise of the “detente” negotiated between Nixon and Brezhnev, as the brilliant investigative journalist Robert I. Friedman first documented in articles for the Village Voice and then his book, “Red Mafiya: How the Russian Mob Has Invaded America” (Little, Brown and Co., 2000), the compact involved the emigration of tens of thousands of Russians to the U.S. under the guise of human rights.
But those Brezhnev allowed to emigrate were the worst criminals and thugs of Russian cultural black markets. Once in the U.S., they organized into what became the Russian Mafia which, among other things, was available to the U.S. right wing for all sorts of mayhem against the civil rights movement.
Muscling in on the Italian mafia in New York, this is when Moscow’s thugs first met and started doing business with (including blackmailing) the hedonistic playboy Trump.
Nixon, Hoover and their masters let this ride through the 1970s to thoroughly rout the “left” and spin the inner cities and “counterculture” into self-destructive drug use and radical hedonism. In this context, the leftist LaRouche cult was redirected from within to roughly align with a burgeoning far right swollen by the politicization of Christian fundamentalist churches.
Puzzled politicians thought the LaRouche operation was the work of the CIA, a faction of which might have had a hand. Others, like the late Georgia Rep. Larry McDonald, insisted it was the KGB. In hindsight, he was the more accurate.
Nicholas Benton may be emailed at email@example.com.