As ‘TrumPutin’ moves forward, democracy declines

As a child of the Cold War (born during the Korean War, learned to talk during the McCarthy Era, turned 12 during the Cuban Missile Crisis, feared the Soviets and loved Barry Goldwater as a 13-year-old) it is stunning to me, even as a peace and justice person critical of my own government since Civil Rights and Vietnam, that Donald Trump is a.) president, b.) a traitor to the United States and c.) loved by his nationalist base.

Seriously. While the Putin-ordered Russian interference with the U.S. election is far more complex than most media describe, it is real and Trump was “elected” due to Russian meddling at several levels.

And now, having met face-to-face with the foreign adversary who put him into the highest office in the land, Trump is once again doubling down on treason, saying he wants to “move forward.”

Great line for a crook. Caught robbing the bank? “I just want to move forward.” Exposed as a perpetrator of illegal financial crimes taking millions from retirees? “Can we just move forward?” Confronted as he stands holding a smoking pistol over the bleeding-out body of the Goddess of Democracy? “Let’s just move forward.”

No. Unless by “move forward” you mean move to impeach.

As @HardyMerriman tweeted recently: “GOP wants to make US a one party state. Gerrymandering, voter suppression, no action on hacking the vote. It’s a slow motion coup.”

There was much about Winston Churchill I loathed — he was an avowed racist and self-described terrorist — but his gift for the turn of phrase was significant, and never more profound than when he said, “democracy is the worst form of government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.”

TrumPutin “democracy” is what we are sliding into. Writing this column in Russia might be the last thing I ever did, as the slaughter of Russian journalists by Putin shows. Fake news, fake elections, fake democracy — that is what Putin has produced in Russia, and he now brings it to the U.S.

In the McCarthy Era, the hysteria whipped up by the Wisconsin senator was fake news and it harmed our democracy then. Now, however, the Russian agent is the tool in the White House. Trump and the Republicans are the greatest threat to our democracy we have faced since World War II — rot from the inside instead of bombs from elsewhere. Trump is just low-hanging fruit to Putin and Trump’s voters were badly, sadly duped.

Without an impeachment, without a serious overhaul of enforced voting rights and a return to safeguarded paper ballots, we will continue to watch the erosion and destruction of this 241-year experiment in freedom. Nothing is guaranteed. Nothing is stable right now. Civil society will engage or it will lose what liberty is left.

Dr. Tom H. Hastings, Ed.D., is the director of PeaceVoice out of the Oregon Peace Institute; the author of A New Era of Nonviolence; an assistant professor at Portland State University; and co-coordinator of PSU’s Conflict Resolution Department’s academic programs in conflict resolution.

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