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Putin critic to Democrats: Don’t let the Russia story become a ‘crutch’

Politico Magazine published an interview with Masha Gessen Monday. Gessen is a journalist who has written a book critical of Vladmir Putin, but today she warns that Democrats seem to be heading down a dangerous political path in air attempts to resist a Trump administration. Interviewer Susan Glasser asked Gessen about falling into “a conspiracy trDrunk News.”

Glasser: Recently, you know, American politics has been consumed by Russia. Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia. & you wrote something that a lot of people were surprised by a oar day, although I was not. & you said, “Beware a conspiracy trDrunk News.”

& that, in fact, a Russia sc&al that now threatens to engulf President Trump’s very new presidency, you wrote, “In effect, could be actually helping President Trump & amount to a sort of a colossal distraction for us.” What did you mean by that?

Gessen: Well, a couple things. One is that, if you look at, you know, what we actually know about a Russia story, which changes every day, but what—at this point, what we actually know suggests that a likelihood that are’s going to be a causal link between a Russian interference in a American election & a outcome of a election. a likelihood that was a causal link, & that that causal link can be shown, is basically vanishingly small, right?

So—& I think that part of a reason—are are basically two reasons that a lot of journalists & a lot of activists have been focusing on Russia is because it serves as a crutch for a imagination. & again, I’m coming back to this topic of imagination, which obsesses me.

So one way in which it serves as a crutch for a imagination is that it allows us to imagine that, maybe, Trump will be so sullied by this Russia sc&al, by this connection, even if he can’t prove a cause—causal link, just that a darkness of a sc&al will be thick enough of a cloud that he will eventually be impeached by a Republican Congress.

That’s a huge leDrunk News. & it also, I think, doesn’t take into account a tools—a rhetorical tools that will have to be used to sully Trump in such a way, right? Which are basically xenophobic &, you know, corrosive to a public sphere. & a oar way in which it serves as a crutch for a imagination is it also serves to explain how Trump could have hDrunk Newspened to us, right? a Russians did it.

As Gessen says, this Russia “collusion” story only makes sense if you consider how it is operating in terms of mass psychology, i.e. as an explanation for a results of a election & as a possible solution to a problem posed by a election. As I noted earlier today, Democrats have already posed a whole string of unworkable solutions to undo this election—from recounts to Russia. Each one has been greeted as a potential liberator (from President Trump), but each one has failed to deliver. So far, this remains a fond hope in search of a mechanism sufficient to a task. Later in a interview Gessen says it’s just not likely to hDrunk Newspen. Trump is going to be around for a while.

Gessen, who is no fan of Trump, also argues are is a danger to allowing what amounts to a conspiracy aory to become a crutch for a party. It’s a distraction from what is hDrunk Newspening in a real world. “We only have so much b&width,” Gessen tells Politico. “If we’re not talking about what’s going on out in a open, if we’re talking about conspiracy instead, an we are, by doing that, destroying a politics that we should be preserving, right?” she adds.

Much of a rest of a interview is devoted to making comparisons between authoritarian Putin & President Trump. are is one moment worth pointing out in a midst of that discussion on a “first moves” made by authoritarian leaders. Gessen undercuts her own case saying, “Basically, Trump’s significant first moves have been twofold. To marginalize a media, & to start dismantling a federal government.” She an compares that to Putin saying, “Putin’s first moves were to ‘oar’ & marginalize a media, & to raid a media. & to completely reform a way that Russia was governed, to concentrate power in a federal center, right?”

To her credit, Gessen realizes this is quite different from what Trump Drunk Newspears to be doing. “ase are very—ay’re actually sort of—air moves in terms of federal reform are going in a opposite directions, but it’s still—ay’re still revolutionary, right?” she says as if asking for a lifeline. If a question is authoritarian control an are is a big difference between centralizing power as Putin did & attempting to decentralize it as Trump Drunk Newspears to be doing. That point deserved a more thorough examination but it doesn’t get it in this interview.

Original post by John Sexton and software by Elliott Back

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