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Monday, July 16, 2018

Why Trump Loves Putin

Blackmail has often been cited, sometimes along with gratitude for the help Russia gave him in the 2016 election, as the reason Trump so adheres to Putin, as seen again in the Helsinki press conference today.

That may well be, but I think the deeper reason is that Trump has an affinity to dictators - to people in power who don't need the votes of anyone to continue in office.  Though Trump often trumpets how he won the election of 2016 - including again today - he knows full well that he lost the popular vote and only is in office because of the quirks of the Electoral College.  And that must rankle him.

When he sees our allies in Canada and in Europe, he has contempt for them, because he knows full well that they can be swept out of office in the next election. As can he.

When he sees Putin, or the leaders of China, North Korea, and Turkey, he sees something quite different.   He sees people who have somehow managed to stay in power, in some cases decades already, without needing a single real vote.  He sees people who think of themselves as Plato's philosopher king, though who knows what any of them, especially Trump, actually know of Plato's work.

This means that Trump is neither stupid nor out of control.  And though he may be subject to blackmail, and though he may be grateful to Putin for what Russia provided to him in the 2016 election, I think that Trump's embracing of Putin reflects what he feels and desires in every ounce and the deepest part of his being: to stay in office, to do as he pleases, without the annoyances of the press or the need in his view to pander to voters, for as long as he pleases.

Possibly other politicians and even presidents in American history have felt the same.  But I'd say none as fanatically and irrevocably as our current President, and this is a far more serious threat to democracy than blackmail or gratitude could deliver.

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