Not just today, not just yesterday, not just this past week, but since he announced his candidacy for president, Donald Trump has been the biggest threat to our democracy, progressive traditions and practices, and national security.
Putin, his new partner on the world stage, isn’t a choir boy for sure. He is, in fact, an autocratic ruler, not an aspiring one like Trump. As Russia’s president, he has few restraints on his power.
But Putin isn’t anywhere near the threat to the country or the world that Trump is. He is clever, for sure, and is anything but a paper tiger. But make no mistake about it, he is the junior partner in this bromance. And that is so, even if the Russian autocrat has “something” on Trump.
In short, the main danger to the future — ours and the world’s — is Trump.
And that danger only grows with each passing day. Trump, after all, has no attachment to democratic rule and governance. Indeed, since becoming president, he has done nothing but assail our democratic traditions, practices, and institutions. Racism, nativism, misogyny, bullying, indecency, cruelty, incompetence, hyper nationalism, and authoritarianism have been the book and bookends of his presidency.
On a global level he has attacked the liberal order and capitalist democracies that took shape in the wake of WW II. This order obviously begs for democratic restructuring and reform, but to believe that Trump will be an agent of that restructuring, or a nuclear free world for that matter, is the worst kind of self delusion.
What heightens this danger is that Trump has at his command the most powerful repressive apparatus and war machine ever assembled, a supine Republican Party, a majority on the Supreme Court that is favorably disposed to his policies and authoritarian disposition, and, not least, a mass constituency that is becoming a cult.
What he doesn’t have is the majority of people on his side. And his performance yesterday and last week, notwithstanding his lame effort to clean it up today, will only solidify that majority.
While interference by the Russian government in our domestic politics should be aggressively addressed, it shouldn’t become the reason to turn Russia into an implacable foe. We did that in the last half of the 20th century and both countries (and other countries as well) spent large amounts of treasure and blood to no good effect.
Nor should Putin become a distraction from the main strongman who sits in the White House or his Republican enablers in Congress, either now, or this fall when tens of millions cast their votes.