Suddenly, news outlets and headlines portray the President of the United States as an agent of Russia’s Czar. His performances at the NATO Summit and Helsinki meeting with Putin cannot be explained as anything but attacks on NATO and the EU, Putin’s Eurasian competitors. Speculation, for the moment is “why?”. Answers range from blackmail over sex tapes, to financial kompramat, to recruitment by the GRU. All or any of this may be true, but there is also an ideological affinity between Trump and Putin that could explain a lot. Putin and Trump are white nationalists.
The underlying theory of Trumpism and Putinism is that white countries are under attack from a wave of darker people from the south, particularly Muslims. It’s a crusade. As in olden days, Jerusalem is the symbolic prize. Binyamin Netanyahu shares their worldview and has cultivated relationships with the Russian oligarchs as assiduously as he has with the Republican Party. The recent declaration that Jews have more rights in Israel than non-Jews is of a piece with the racist cloth worn by Putin, Trump and their white nationalist counterparts in every European nation. White nationalism is on the ascendant.
This is not a secret. The Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church has declared holy war against Islam, doing so at a podium with Vladimir Putin at his side. Steve Bannon, the Patriarch of American white nationalism, has described the world in the same existential terms. Bannon was the ideological guru during the final months of Trump’s campaign, and he continues to operate as an advance man for Trumpism. From Viktor Orban in Hungary to Boris Johnson in Britain to Marine LaPen in France to Donald Trump in the USA, the message is the same; white nation states are being attacked, existentially threatened by waves of Muslim/Mexicans, victimized by naive and misguided politicians who acquiesce to non-white minorities. While there may be other factors compelling Trump to speak as Putin’s agent, it should not be forgotten that he and Putin have much in common – white nationalism, devotion to oligarchy, and disdain for democratic values.
If one wonders why Republicans, particularly Evangelical Christians, are willing to overlook Trump’s many sins, one need look no further than a shared religious-racial identity. For those who still support Trump, his actions are laudable manifestations of his role as the champion of victimized white Christian America. This they know – no matter what he says or does, he can be trusted to be doing it for the greater good, white dominance and defense of the white Judeo-Christian homeland.
There is an alternative perception underlying the world order that Trump and Putin are trying to destroy. Until the last few election cycles, liberal values of common humanity and multi-nationalism dominated political rhetoric in Western democracies. Obama, of course, exemplifies all that they oppose. Putin and Trump realize that the morality of secular humanism is antithetical to the morality of the white nationalist tribalism that motivates their followers. Trump’s tweets and Putin’s internet trolls attack secular humanists in the universities, media and left-leaning political parties. They do this, obviously, to manipulate public perceptions of them and of their purported enemies.
Are the institutions of democratic governance capable of effective resistance? The utter failures of our Congress to impede the white nationalist march are deeply troubling and suggest that the answer is ‘no’. Adding more Republicans to the Supreme Court will result in legitimization of racist policies for a generation. Journalism is withering under the onslaughts of technological revolution and Trump’s aggressive antagonism to truth.
There are two related shreds of hope. First, anti-Trumpists may vote in great numbers this November and, by so doing, break Republican legislative majorities. Secondly, Robert Mueller’s investigations may provide enough evidence to prosecute Trump for high crimes and misdemeanors sufficiently egregious to warrant his impeachment. But, even if such facts are revealed, a Republican majority in the House of Representatives is unlikely to undertake the prosecution.