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"Democrats have been losing for going on four decades now, at every level of government except cities, and you can't pin that on Putin," Atcheson writes. (Photo: DonkeyHotey/Flickr/cc)

The Russians Did It!

It's much easier for Democrats to play the blame game than it is to fix what ails them

John Atcheson

The Russians did what?  Pretty much anything you can think of.  For example, a recent headline in the New York Times read: "How the Russians Got Americans to Turn Against One Another." Or consider the two-part Frontline series titled "Putin's Revenge," which outlines in excruciating detail how Hillary's defeat and Trump's victory was orchestrated by Putin.

Obviously, we should take whatever actions are necessary to prevent any foreign power from interfering with our elections, including regulating social media outlets. And just as obviously, if Trump or his campaign colluded with a foreign government to influence the election, he should be impeached.

But the neoliberal elitists who run the Democratic Party have seized upon this narrative with all the desperation of a drowning man seizing a piece of driftwood, because it obscures the real reason Trump won and why they've been losing for decades – their commitment to running corporate-friendly candidates who represent the oligarchy, not the people.   

Because here’s the thing.  America has been a divided nation for decades – long before email and the Internet existed, and long before Putin appeared – caused by such things as Nixon’s southern strategy, and Reagan’s skillful use of divisive tactics and dog whistle politics, and the oligarchy’s intentional use of divide and conquer strategies.  

And as Trump’s own pollster confirmed, Bernie Sanders would have beaten Trump in the general election. This fact alone shows that Trump’s victory was more about the Democrats running their typical neoliberal candidate posing as a progressive than it was about Russian intervention.

The inconvenient truth the whole “Russians did it” narrative leaves out is that it was the content of those emails that sunk Hillary Clinton, not the emails or the advertisements per se.

Doubt that?  Well, suppose the Russians had hacked the Sanders campaign’s emails.  What do you suppose they would have found?  Open duplicity? Cynical calculation on political positions that had all the permanence of a Lady Ga-Ga outfit? Corporate-friendly policies and Wall Street sympathy expressed in private?  No.  They would have found 30 years of consistently progressive policies.  And what could they have done with that?  Not much.

Even the Twitter and Facebook ads the Russians used to sew divisiveness relied on there being a profound distrust of the candidates.  Yes, that was partly the product of a three-decade long campaign by conservatives to create distrust, dislike, and suspicion of Hillary Clinton, but she made it easier for the accusations to stick by being:

·      Openly deceptive (going from a “proud centrist” to a “progressive who got things done” in the space of a couple of months when it seemed politically expedient to do so;

·       Dishonest (remember being “fired upon” in Bosnia?); and

·       So cynically scripted she sounded like a Stepford candidate.

The Russians took advantage of this vulnerability, but they didn’t create it.

It would be a mistake to pretend that the reason Trump won and Clinton lost was because of Russian intervention.  Democrats have been losing for going on four decades now, at every level of government except cities, and you can’t pin that on Putin.  What you can pin it on is running feckless candidates who mouth progressive and populist positions every two to four years, then govern for the elite and uber-wealthy in between.

Basically, people are fed up with that routine, and they’re not buying it any longer.  And that’s the lesson Democrats in particular and candidates in general need to focus on, not any of “the dog ate my homework” stories that the elite media and the neoliberal Democrats are ginning up around the Russian intervention.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
John Atcheson

John Atcheson

John Atcheson, 1948-2020, was a long-time Common Dreams contributor, climate activist and author of, "A Being Darkly Wise, and a book on our fractured political landscape entitled, "WTF, America? How the US Went Off the Rails and How to Get It Back On Track". Follow him on Twitter @john_atcheson. John was tragically killed in a California car accident in January 2020.

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