America’s fifth column

There are now real “Fifth columnists” in the United States — due to the boundless cynicism of the Republican Party

Published July 29, 2018 4:00AM (EDT)

 (Salon/Benjamin Wheelock/Getty Images)
(Salon/Benjamin Wheelock/Getty Images)

This piece originally appeared on The Globalist.

If, in the B.T. (=Before Trump) era, anybody had ever posited that the Republican Party would turn out to be Moscow’s and Putin’s best ally, they would have been declared insane.

And yet, here we are. Republican voters are extremely faithful to their man Trump and, by logical extension, to Moscow.

There used to be times, during the days of McCarthyism, when Republicans hurled the phrase “fifth column” as an insult at Democrats, to brand them for being soft on communism. Those days are long gone.

A key part of the explanation for why there are the now real — and, in contrast to the McCarthy days, not just the imagined — “Fifth columnists” in the United States is rooted in the boundless cynicism of the Republican Party.

The party has managed to perform some potent voodoo magic throughout the land. This is the only way to describe its ability to attract working-class whites, mostly in the rural areas of the United States, to its plutocratic causes.

Supporting Putin

The even bigger political magic the Republicans have pulled off is to get their voters to support Putin at the very same time as Republican campaign managers try to scare off potential Democratic voters by talking about the Democrats’ turn to “socialism.”

By that amazing logic, speaking up ever so slightly in favor of the potential economic, social and political interests of average Americans is an act of “socialism.” In contrast, it stands to reason that “democracy” is the process of ensuring that an entire country is largely organized for the economic interests of the top 1%.

The main reason why the inappropriate charge of socialism is thrown into the equation is to protect Republicans against appropriate charges that they are little more than a clever front organization dedicated to furthering the cause of economic plutocracy.

That this maneuver is even remotely possible is due to the fact that most Americans have always had a hard time with definitions and abstract concepts.

Why are Democrats taking it?

Still, one has to ask why the Democrats are allowing the Republicans to get away with these immense ideological distortions. A key part of the explanation here is the relentlessness of the Clinton wing of the Democratic Party to pay no more than lip service to the economic and political interests of the large U.S. working class (i.e., people with under $40,000 in annual income).

Under those circumstances, it is no wonder that U.S. politics is ever more linked to Russia. The leaders of that country have always managed to organize Russia’s economic affairs in an exploitative and/or deceitful manner.

This is true regardless of whether one is talking about nobility during Czarist days, the nomenklatura during the days of Communism or the oligarchs now.

For a long time, the United States held itself out as the alternative role model — a society that isn’t just organized for the benefits of the “haves” at the top of the economic pyramid.

Dispensing with that notion is the biggest implication of the Republicans having turned themselves into America’s Fifth column.

This article is republished from The Globalist: On a daily basis, we rethink globalization and how the world really hangs together. Thought-provoking cross-country comparisons and insights from contributors from all continents. Exploring what unites and what divides us in politics and culture. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. And sign up for our highlights email here.

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By Stephan Richter

Stephan Richter is the publisher and editor-in-chief of The Globalist, the daily online magazine, and a columnist in newspapers around the world. He is also the presenter of the Marketplace Globalist Quiz, which is aired on public radio stations all across the United States. In addition, Mr. Richter is a keynote speaker at international conferences -- and the author of the 1992 book, “Clinton: What Europe and the United States Can Expect.” Follow him on Twitter @theglobalist.

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Mccarthyism Republican Party Russia Russian Probe The Globalist Trump Administration Vladimir Putin