By Caitlin Johnstone
After WikiLeaks documents provided irrefutable evidence that the Democratic National Committee had violated its charter by rigging its primary for Hillary Clinton against Bernie Sanders, what should have happened is this:
- The DNC apologizing profusely to the public for violating the promises it had made to the electorate.
- Massive, sweeping changes to bring transparency and public accountability to the DNC’s inner workings, including a complete overhaul of staff and leadership.
- If at all possible, a complete do-over of the primary vote.
- A dedication to attacking Trump’s right-wing policies from the left, showing the public that a progressive approach works better than a conservative one.
If this had happened Americans would not only be living in a vastly saner political landscape, but Trump probably would not have won in 2016. If the Democratic establishment had shown clearly and unequivocally that it was remorseful for its malfeasance and made an immediate overhaul that people could see for themselves, they wouldn’t have alienated nearly as many voters.
Instead, what happened was the DNC changing absolutely nothing, Nanci Pelosi saying she doesn’t see anything wrong with primary rigging, and the Democratic Party shrieking about Russia for more than two years.
Watching the establishment Russia narrative take hold of public consciousness was like watching a zombie outbreak. First it infected the slow ones, the virulent Clintonites who never had any natural defense against CIA/CNN narratives, which was disturbing and distressing but not at all surprising. Then, bit-by-bit, the Russia hysteria began to creep leftward. Progressives I’d been fighting alongside in 2016 began succumbing to the Russiagate mind virus in 2017, folding under peer pressure and aggressive mass media manipulation. Some of them held strong for a few months, then when one of the hollow but oh-so-confident-sounding “bombshell” Russiagate reports struck them in the right way at the right time they made public social media posts saying they were now convinced.
I watched them drop like flies. To this very day I still see Russia hysteria on my social media feeds from progressive Berniecrats I’d followed early on who transformed into McCarthyite cold war hawks at some point in the interim. When I post something skeptical of the establishment Russia narrative on Twitter I see accounts with red roses next to their name, a sign of support for the Democratic Socialists of America, arguing with me and accusing me of sympathizing with Trump and Putin.
Writers like Max Blumenthal and Glenn Greenwald have been warning since the outbreak of this pernicious mass manipulation that it would be used to target the left, but their warnings went unheeded as more and more progressive minds were funneled into the belief that the best way to fight Trump was to get behind the Russia hysteria bandwagon and push with all your might. And now, even as America’s 2020 presidential race is barely in its infancy, we are already beginning to see Russiagate used to smear anyone to the left of Hillary Clinton as Russian dupes.
I’d like to draw attention to a few recent social media posts which have gained a lot of traction in the last few days, not for the impact those posts have but for what they portend for the rest of the 2020 race. The first is from the Twitter account for the Russiagate documentary Active Measures, and it received thousands of shares:
“Bernie was the one Democrat not to vote to keep sanctions on Deripaska (he also voted against Russia sanctions and Magnitsky),” the post reads. “@SenSanders won’t stand up to billionaires in Russia and he wants you to to believe he’ll stand up to them in America. #fraud”
The second comes from professional linguist and engineer John Rehling, who has over 50 thousand Twitter followers, and it received hundreds of shares:
“Kamala Harris is immediately the front runner for the Democratic nomination, and if Russia is predictable, they will create armies of bots attacking her from the *left*,” reads Rehling’s (now deleted) tweet. “If you’re left of Kamala Harris, I’m sure you are honestly, but you’ll be doing Putin’s work, like it or not.”
The third comes from Shareblue manipulator Caroline Orr, just one of many similar posts that she has made in recent days. Orr has also launched a GoFundMe to investigate Tulsi Gabbard’s imaginary Putin-Assad ties/score a free vacation to Hawaii, and is also circulating the baseless rumor that “Russian-linked accounts” are pushing for a Bernie-Tulsi 2020 ticket. Note the URL Orr highlighted in the tweet below featuring her allegation that Gabbard is “pro-Putin” and “pro-Assad”.
In each case, posts punching left with accusations of Kremlin servitude gained traction with their followers, which means there is already an audience for this schtick. And, again, the presidential race has barely even begun. Things are likely to get a whole lot uglier between now and November 2020.
This is your life for the next two years, progressives. This is what those of you who drank the Russiagate Kool-Aid have helped buy for what passes for America’s political left today. You can expect such accusations to get far more common and far more aggressive as this thing drags on. The left can either play along with this and let centrist cold war rhetoric suck all the oxygen out of the room for the advancement of progressive policies, or they can fight back against this moronic facilitation of longstanding intelligence community agendas.
This use of Russiagate to herd the political left toward supporting America’s “center” (so-called only because it is the mainstream view, which in turn is only due to plutocratic narrative control) will actively move things further into corporatist dystopia. Supporting a “moderate” Democratic Party while the Republican Party always pushes as far to the right as it possibly can is guaranteeing a continuous overall movement to the right, which is why the gains made by the left in the early 20th century are almost gone now. If you have one person half-pulling westward on one end of a rope and another person tugging eastward with all their might, they’re going to move steadily east.
The slow, incremental changes advocated by the political “center” are code for no change whatsoever; they’re just buying time so that their corporate sponsors, who themselves never slow down, can finish shoring up control before the public forces them to scale back. If progressives don’t start attacking this “Move right or you’re a Russian agent” schtick directly and with full force, it will snuff them out completely.