When a major party cynically espouses a set of beliefs as a tactic for winning an election, those beliefs get entrenched in popular discourse and often endure well past the election, with very significant consequences. The most significant such rhetorical template in the 2016 election — other than the new Democratic claim that big-money donations do not corrupt the political process — is that Russia is a Grave Enemy of the U.S.; anyone who advocates better relations or less tension with Moscow is a likely sympathizer, stooge, or even agent of Putin; and any associations with the Kremlin render one’s loyalties suspect.
Literally every week ushers in a new round of witch hunts in search of domestic Kremlin agents and new evidence of excessive Putin sympathies. The latest outburst was last night’s discovery that Donald Trump allowed himself to be interviewed by well-known Kremlin propagandist and America-hater Larry King on his RT show. “Criticizing US on Russian TV is something no American, much less an aspiring prez, should do,” pronounced Fred Kaplan. Other guests appearing on that network include Soviet spy Bernard Sanders (who spoke this year to Putin crony and RT host Ed Schultz), Bill Maher (whose infiltrates American culture through his cover as a comedian hosting an HBO program), and Stephen Hawking (whom the FSB has groomed to masquerade as a “physicist” while he carries out un-American activities on behalf of Putin).
Despite the fact that Russia ceased long ago to be guided by anything resembling communism, this linking of one’s political adversaries to the Kremlin is such a potent tactic in the U.S. because of decades of Cold War rhetoric about Moscow. Referring to Putin, Matt Lauer this week asked Trump: “Do you want to be complimented by that former KGB officer?” Denouncing Trump’s praise of Putin, Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel called the Russian president “a communist leader that’s a potential enemy!” Explaining why Trump’s comments about Russia are so remarkable, the New York Times contended that “Mr. Trump has made improved relations with the Kremlin a centerpiece of his candidacy” in “a fashion that would have been unheard-of for a Republican during or immediately after the Cold War.”