Why Trump-Russia Matters
Though Trump has shifted position on nearly everything, he's never wavered in his devotion to Russia or his praise of Putin, whom he admires as a strongman. Trump praised Putin on American TV in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election, and Russian state media similarly praised Trump, befuddling U.S.-Russia experts who wondered why the Kremlin seemed so interested in buttering up the host of The Apprentice.
But the Kremlin's motive for interfering in our election was simple.
They were presented with two candidates: One, Hillary Clinton, was a nemesis of Putin who sought to keep sanctions against Russia and honor U.S. commitments to international bodies like NATO. The other, Donald Trump, was a malleable egomaniac who had been trying to work with Russia for 30 years.
Trump was also an inherently chaotic candidate whose rise could weaken already struggling U.S. institutions. Since the end of the Cold War, Russia has been tanking economically and losing political influence—weakening the U.S. is a great way for the Kremlin to get back on top.
Like all Trump ventures, the disaster of this Russian interference plays out on many levels via many players. Trump himself may be at the center of the story, but it's his staff (and now his son-in-law) being investigated for potential ties.
Their alleged Russian collusion may have been motivated by money—former campaign chairman Paul Manafort was secretly on the payroll of a Russian billionaire to do work to"benefit the Putin government" back in 2005.
Or they may have been motivated by ideology—Russia is a xenophobic, increasingly white supremacist state with rhetoric that mirrors that of the Republican Party, particularly under Trump.
Either way, what's good for Trump and his inner circle may be good for Russia, and vice-versa—but it's not good for ordinary Americans or Russians.
As a hyper-capitalist, authoritarian state dominated by sleazy oligarchs and corrupt officials, Russia suppresses free speech, independent media, public protests, and brutally persecutes marginalized groups like LGBT citizens, Muslims, and migrant laborers.
When not busy repressing its own people, the Kremlin tries to repress citizens of other states, both militarily (as in Ukraine) and through media manipulation. It is not, in other words, a government whose ideals we want to align with or empower.
That's what's most disconcerting about the Russian interference scandal: It's the possibility that worst elements in each of our governments could collaborate secretly against the welfare of citizens. It's an affront to sovereignty and to humane governance.
As an American, you should care about that.