Monday, October 10, 2016

The Election Is Now a Historical Turning Point

This may come to be seen as the precise moment when the Trump election cycle pivoted from a surreal shitshow to a foundational realignment of our nation's politics.

As the Republican party has began to unravel in earnest (liberals would be wise not to celebrate; ask any Iraqi how liberating massive sudden destabilization and radicalization feels), this has become historical, not merely anomalous. So this is the point where viewing, pondering, and discussing the campaign and its increasingly complex repercussions is more than titillation or abstract horse race boosterism. With Trump's defeat a foregone conclusion (barring black swans), we can focus on the broader picture. This is a moment Americans need to witness carefully in order to adjust to the impending new normal. Paying attention now is a civic duty.

To stay up on the fast-moving action in real time, Twitter's your best shot (the TV networks are crap; all of them). I recommend two Twitter accounts, both prolific, smart, and staunchly anti-Trump. Josh Barro approaches from the left, Rick Wilson (who wrote the influential article I linked to this weekend) approaches from the right. Between their near-obsessive tweeting, and the equally smart people they retweet, you'll have an excellent perch on the action.

Speaking of civic duties, have you registered to vote yet (google for easy/precise state-by-state instructions)? Even if you're in a "safe" state, consider that an extremely sharp rebuke of Trump will help repair our standing abroad, and remove Trump's ability to claim he was robbed.

A massively important story got buried amid all the Pussygate outrage. America's formal rebuke of Russia for trying to influence our elections via hacking is both more significant (it signals a pivot by Putin) and less significant (it's no deep conspiracy; more of a cunningly executed provocation) than it seems. This superb analysis is a bit long, but an easy read that you absolutely shouldn't miss.

Lots of links, above, but if you're going to pay attention to politics once in your lifetime, now's the time. It's a privilege to live through history - even unpleasant history. I don't want to just read the synopsis later. This is not a moment to hit the fast-forward button; this is a moment to hit "play" and pay full attention.


vhliv said...

Thanks Jim. If I may Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo is for my money one of the most insightful commentators. Glad you pointed out the significance of the now official accusation of Russia interfering in our election. I would say, however that as someone professionally involved in Russia watching, it is a bit too alarmist. Fair point about the growing sophistication of the Russia intelligence agencies in recognizing the value of attacking the DNC, but the notion that Russia is masterfully manipulating European opinion is hogwash. One of the most striking things is actually how poorly they have done. Russia is no closer to getting the west to recognize its annexation of crimea than it was 2 years ago. The sanctions remain in place and that will obtain for the foreseeable future. The Brexit may have been a victory, but that was as much as anything an own goal for the Conservative Party, which is experiencing many of hte same problems our Republican party is, but handling them less well, even as thie left opposition has proven far less adroit than the Democrats, in part because ultimately even Hillary can pass the buck on supporting the Iraq War., but I digress. The genius of the Obama administration has been to never let Putin find a way to prove he is really to Obama as a second superpower leader. This is why most, if not all the talk suggesting a new Cold WAr is ridiculous, though Putin is pulling all the stops to see if he can trap us into doing that whether it be through meddling in Ukraine, Syria or in the US election process.

Jim Leff said...


Adding Marshall to my feed, thanks.

The article did note (lower down) that this is not some coupe of brilliantly orchestrated and indomitable malevolence on Putin's part. He's just getting a lot of bang from some easy bucks (plus free rides from "useful idiots" like Trump). I thought the upshot was balanced: 1. Beware, Putin's trying to extend his manipulation outside his usual zone of influence, and 2. No need to panic about it.

Not sure western recognition of Crimean rule is high on Putin's priority list (though you'd know better). Wasn't that whole maneuver designed to shore up his base? Sanctions were factored in from the get-go. Putin's famously limited in his long game, but these things are two-step cause/effect, no?

I see the "new cold war" rhetoric as totally understandable. Whether you're slightly more powerful than the competition, or 20,000 times more powerful, any/all malevolent competition feels existential to general public, no? Perhaps more so in the latter case, when there's further to fall (i.e. the rich worry more about theft than the poor).

Look how stirred up we are re: terrorists, who've killed fewer Americans, total, since 2000 than have died in traffic accidents in any single month. Agreed that Obama has been a one-man buttress, working against acting from that irrational mainstream fear. OTOH I'm pretty sure that Clinton, with her baked-in mandate to prove she's the tough iron Lady, will be much quicker to bite at bait from Putin and others. I don't think she's ever not pushed to do so.

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