Searching for common sense in politics

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Russia Did Not Make Trump President, But Ties To Putin Still Alarming

If you follow any political sorts on Twitter, your timeline has undoubtedly been inundated with tweets about Donald Trump being a Russian puppet. There are several reasons for that.

First, during the campaign Trump made no secret of his admiration for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Second, one of Trump's closest advisers, Paul Manafort, reportedly has close ties to the Russians.

Third, Trump's nominee for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, also has ties to Russia.

Fourth, there is overwhelming circumstantial evidence that the Russians tampered with the American election in 2016, possibly to help Trump win.

And there are more, for sure. It's clear that Trump likes the strength of personality that Putin displays, and it's just as clear that some of his closest advisers have some relationships with Russian officials.

This is still politics, so lot of the angst over this is just fear. Liberals and supporters of Hillary Clinton have been terrified of what Trump will do as president since he won the election. Any hint of collusion with Russia plays right into those fears. It also plays into the narrative that Trump only won because the Russians hacked the election. If you're following along, however, this is just the latest "reason" they've given for Hillary losing:

1. Racist Middle Americans
2. Comey
3. Fake news
4. The Russians

Let's just dispel the idea that the Russians cost Hillary the election. They didn't. They did not make Hillary use a personal email server. They did not force Hillary to ignore white Middle-Americans. They did not make Hillary one of the most unlikable candidates ever. The bottom line is that Hillary was a lousy candidate and ran a lousy campaign. Any candidate that was not historically unpopular (perhaps even Joe Biden) would have beaten Trump.

The fact remains, however, that Trump's ties to, and admiration of, Russia are concerning. The common sense position here is that his dealings with Putin and Moscow need to be watched very carefully, and Russia's tampering with the election needs to be investigated fully. The narrative that Trump is nothing but Putin's puppet is extreme and probably a product of fear, but that doesn't mean we should ignore it.
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