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Reality Winner, Russiagate and the Left


Reality hit hard for the left when whistleblower Reality Winner was sentenced to five years, three months in prison with three years of supervision after release and 100 hours of community service. Surely it was another pussy-hat-liberal-Russiagate-Deep-State-hoax that is descending on the honorable leftist blogosphere? Actually, it was just the opposite. Winner heroically revealed an attempt by Russian military intelligence to interfere with U.S. elections. And guess who slapped her with the longest sentence for a federal defendant who disclosed information to the media? It couldn’t be the very same man who is challenging globalism, the Deep State and the new liberal world order as we know it, albeit on twitter? Yes, it could be actually.

This is a hard pill to swallow for what Jeffrey St. Clair calls the Sputnik Left. Reality Winner showed us the punishment taken for real resistance to the authoritarian Trump administration. Winner not only called Trump the “Orange Fascist”, she was brave enough to reveal the conspiracy liberals have pretended to be chasing and leftists have been denying for the last year and a half. Those who are outraged by Julian Assange’s case and not by Reality Winner’s case are just as hypocritical as liberals who may be divided the opposite way.

Yet one has to wonder why isn’t the Reality Winner story a bigger story in the Russia-obsessed liberal media? There have been months of calling Donald Trump a fascist and an authoritarian and a misogynist. There have been months of Robert Mueller’s rock kicking on the front pages. Months of speculation about the grand Russian conspiracy. Yet when something real comes out, when someone real is punished for revealing the truth, nobody cares. Is the resistance this afraid of being real, rather than Fake News?

Trump can get away with this authoritarianism because Obama did. Barack Obama prosecuted eight whistleblowers via the Espionage Act. This was more than all previous Presidents combined before him. There are some theorists out there who speculate that Trump just does the opposite of what Obama does. This is a good rule. But it only covers the digestible things Obama did, such as the Clean Power Plan. The other good rule is that if Obama did something bad, Trump will do it worse. Obama’s many sins aside, I find the fixation over him and Hillary Clinton to not only be unproductive, but suspicious. Obama and Hillary are not that important anymore. If they were, Trump would be coming through on his campaign promise to “Lock Her Up.” The real resistance is the Her that Trump defends in public and locks up in private. The real resistance is Reality Winner.

Winner also should make us rethink the arbitrary divides we have bought into regarding Russia and the United States. Sputnik leftists have a central thesis that is rather outdated. Their thesis is that the U.S. Empire runs the world and nothing else matters. This is the same thesis Trump has actually. The only difference is that the left opposes U.S. Empire, while Trump adores it. I would argue though that both sides of this outdated theory are in their own way, upholding the white male early-Empire ethos many of us are nostalgic for. Believing the U.S. is king makes us all feel important, whether we are proud about it or not.

At this point in time it is not the United States Empire that rules the world. Global capitalism rules the world. When was the last war that was in the “interests” of the United States? These wars enrich a few capitalists and drain the public resources of the United States. There is no way our wars help the vast majority of our citizens. All these wars are proxy wars. The best U.S. politicians for these types of wars are the ones that can be fooled into believing they are for anything else. George W. Bush was perfect in this sense.

Donald Trump and his takeover of the Republican Party is a case worth discussing though. Trump offers a return to a certain nationalism. This nationalism is artificial in its construct of a state. Trump’s nationalism simply holds a group of citizens that pay for a military, immigration forces, and a police budget. Trumpism aims to deconstruct just about everything else. What he does give people is a force to unite behind. All Trump is capable of providing is this feeling. And at this point a feeling is all it is.

The services of the state are being deconstructed. This happened before Donald Trump but it is accelerating under him. In order to compensate for this Donald Trump gives his citizens a strong man to rally behind. He will wage war on countries, immigrants and politicians. And he will do it in your name. You get nothing in return but his victories. His victories are all you have, so you continue to put him in office. Needless to say, such a worthless reward is only appealing to a populace denied of just about everything else.

Yet this new order of things does not appeal to everyone. Generally Trump’s supporters are rich, white and male. Oddly enough, Trump has some defenders of this variety on the left also. This is the base of the libertarian movement too. The common thread appears to be a cynicism that is expressed primarily through distrust of other people and institutions.

One of the common tropes behind all these groups is the belief in a “Deep State.” Now, I believe our government does things and covers them up. But to use this as the basis of deconstructing government as we know it seems to ignore the enormous benefits of government we all rely upon. Furthermore, to engage in selective conspiracy theories that hold up a mythic version of Russia is entirely unproductive.

The Deep State acted when it imprisoned and silenced Reality Winner. It happened right in front of our eyes. Yet we largely let is pass by. History will remember us all as fools if we continue to cry foul about Russiagate when one of our own is going to jail for exposing it. One can hate the CIA, the FBI, Trump and the global oligarchs all at once.

Liberals are crippled by their obsession with Russia. They spend their days chasing after people on Trump’s team, rather than the 1% who are undermining democracy as we know it. The left is crippled by our obsession with Russiagate. We spend our days chasing after liberal figures, rather the 1% who are undermining democracy as we know it. If anyone cares about democracy, they will care about the persecution of whistleblowers.

Reality Winner is ignored by the left because she undermines our narrative about the 2016 election. The narrative, which is repeated ad nauseam, goes something like this: Hillary was an uppity liberal and is the greatest enemy of the working class. Therefore, the working class got revenge by electing Donald Trump and now the Democrats have to suffer. Yippee! The real narrative goes something more like this: Hillary Clinton, while a corrupt corporate imperialist and a danger to humanity, was less vicious and less corrupt than Donald Trump. Because of this, the working class generally reluctantly voted for her over Trump, if they voted at all. The Democrats suffer little under Trump, if anything, they gain more credibility. The actual people who suffer the most under Trump are the poor people the left likes to align themselves with.

Donald Trump does indeed want America to be like Putin’s Russia. He wants an oligarchy (which he already mostly had). He wants an authoritarian state (which both parties have set the groundwork for). He wants to be a macho strong man who casts women as second class citizens. And he wants America to be white. Now I’m not one to judge Russia. America is the world’s most evil country, there is no doubt about that. But this is what Trump sees, and this is what Trump wants.

Is there a victor in this grand drama? Should citizens who care about hunger, poverty and pollution give a damn about who wins the wrestling match between Donald Trump and his enemies? Perhaps we should. Donald Trump leaving office would save lives. Plain and simple. The only merit liberals have ever had is that they are not Trump. Why not let them be not Trump and see what happens?

Underneath all the theatre came an act of principled resistance. Alas, it seemed to pass in the night, as liberals bemoaned national security interests and leftists remained blinded by their envy of liberals. Nobody seems that interested in getting rid of Donald Trump. Mueller’s victims remain a step or two removed from Trump’s inner circle and leftist’s targets remain years removed from office. Maybe we all want the distraction of the political theatre Trump brings us. Because when the real resistance comes to town, so does a real authoritarian.

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Nick Pemberton writes and works from Saint Paul, Minnesota. He loves to receive feedback at pemberton.nick@gmail.com 

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