This 10-part series concludes with this entry drafted on the eve of the Biden-Putin summit in Geneva. The case is compelling for the role Putin and the Russians played not only in interfering in the 2016 presidential election and the elevation and influencing of Trump as the U.S. president the last four years, but in the socio-cultural assault on core democratic values in the U.S. that contributed to the rise of the Trump “movement” here, including its insurrectionary assault on January 6 on the nation’s Capitol itself.
It is my firm conviction that current U.S. political and law enforcement leadership, including our new Attorney General Merrick Garland, must dig through the abundance of documentation available, including the resources published in the Mueller Report, and leave no stone unturned to aggressively investigate, prosecute and convict the entire array of sleazy and dangerous networks involved. This cannot be left unattended because otherwise the entire writhing cesspool will continue to represent a clear and present danger to democratic institutions worldwide.
Public remarks by both Trump and Putin in recent days, leading up to the Biden-Putin summit, make it crystal clear that the two are playing from the same page when it comes to the U.S. role in the world and that of the Western Alliance.
Yes, America, a bonafide Russian agent was elected president of our country in 2016 and the damage he wreaked upon us is going to reverberate for a long time. But our main task is that the damage be stopped immediately, and that in itself will take considerable doing.
With an assist from certain powerful rightwing financier and other interests in the U.S., remnants of the anti-democratic fascist “America First” sympathizers and activists from the 1930s on, the Soviets and Russia redoubled their effort to take over America from within in the early 1970s, using authoritarian brainwashed cults and fundamentalist religious groups to assail our mainstream democratic institutions from the fringes, noodling their way into the pores of our culture with a bizarre variety of anti-truth, anti-science, anti-establishment zealots.
Generally overlooked by the wider culture who dismissed them as the “lunatic fringe,” disaffected American bodies and minds were snatched for decades by these means before bursting onto the main stage of our culture with the Tea Party in the first phase and Trump, the heavily-compromised Soviet choice for U.S. president since 1987, now the dominant current in the GOP.
Yes, I was for a time an agent of a hostile foreign power myself in the 1970s, although I didn’t appreciate it like that at the time. I thought I was joining a serious humanist cause, but it took me down a rabbit hole to a very dark place before I was able to muster the nerve to pull away.
Yes, I was brainwashed for a time back then. When asked what it was like, I can only say it was like being “codependent” in a relationship. You may hate what is happening, but for whatever reason you can’t just walk away. There is a strong psychological hold that has many reinforcements that convince you to remain, and they are all rooted in lies and deceptions.
Many of those who attacked the Capitol on January 6 and have continued to follow the Trumpist lead are in that boat now. Their blinders are their internal fears and induced paranoid fantasies.
It’s not that there aren’t systemic problems with our society that need to be called out and fixed. But to brainwashed cultists, there is no valid pathway to genuine reform, only a wholesale assault on the “system” and an insistence on believing the frauds and charlatans who feed their paranoid fears, like the key players at Fox News, the many fakers in fundamentalist pulpits, and classic sociopathic bullies who become cult leaders.
Our ultimate task is to not only root out the actual Russian-sponsored networks, themselves, but to inoculate our wider U.S. culture with antidotes of the best of what makes democracy thrive, the passion for truth, for science, for justice and compassion and the conviction that all men and women are created equal and bring unique gifts to the table of life.
Nicholas Benton may be emailed at [email protected]