A phenomenon that is proving fatal to the American Republic harks back to the ubiquitous presence of ‘soap operas’ — long, drawn-out sob stories that first appeared on radio in the 1930’s, and now, on television, tend to be detective stories. As the world rushes toward both nuclear and climate Armageddon, the country that prides itself on being the only one able to lead, is wrapped up in the investigation into Russiagate.
In terms of air-minutes, nothing comes close to the coverage of each day’s — or hours — ‘installments’ in the almost two-year long Justice Department investigation, while America’s military continues to wage war in Afghanistan and Iraq, while the deep state dreams of taking down Iran — and Russia — and journalist-assassinating-Saudi Arabia makes war on tiny Yemen using US weapons, and hungry Central Americans with babes in arms are met with with tear gas at the southern border, as pundits signal the average Americans’ complaint; ’This is not the America we want to be.’
How can it be that the democratic model that the rest of the world is told to copy does not deliver the kind of country its citizens want? The answer is that Americans have been trained to focus on domestic issues, as if the rest of the world were a mere backdrop to the stage upon which its affairs play out. Day after day — and night after night – the news resembles nothing so much as a real life thriller, with anchors and every conceivable category of expert dissecting the latest episode almost in real time, seeking to outdo each other in terms of who, when all is said and done will be closer to ’the truth’.
In the American justice system, guilt is largely determined by ‘getting to the bottom’ of ‘what X knew and when did he/she know it’. Never has the venerable FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigations, founded in 1908), been so prominent. Just five months after the President took office, Robert Mueller, a former head of the FBI, and the only person involved in this saga who has shown total discretion, was appointed by the Deputy Attorney General as “Special Counsel overseeing an ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and related matters”.
Amidst the ceaseless chatter of pundits, television anchors and those targeted by the investigation, it would require extraordinary powers of concentration to keep track of each twist and turn of the investigation into events that took place two or more years ago, when Donald Trump was still a candidate for the Presidency, involving phone calls, emails, travel and meetings, all unearthed thanks to the FBI’s power to subpoena — or call to answer questions — often in front of specially convened ‘grand juries’ whose role is not to determine guilt, but merely to ask questions backed up by the power to send people to jail. What makes Mueller’s investigation all the more threatening to individuals is that it catches in its net crimes unrelated to Donald Trump, usually financial.
Competing for the daily parade of interviewees — no matter how minor their role in Russiagate may have been — the media reports with undisguised glee who said what to whom, who travelled where, who met with which foreign player, and what this seemingly endless parade might signify for the innocence or guilt of the man in the White House with respect to Russia’s possible impact on the election that supposedly helped him get there.
Rarely mentioned is the fact that Donald Trump actually received fewer votes than Hillary Clinton, while capturing more votes in the Electoral College. This unique body was created during the first Constitutional Convention in 1789 to limit the possibly deleterious effects of ‘one man, one vote’. Ironically, in 2016, had universal suffrage dictated the result instead of the chosen members of the electoral collage, Donald Trump would not be president. Those known as his ‘base’ account for little more than one third of the population, however, ginned up periodically by rallies at which the President invites chants of ‘Lock her up!’ directed at Hillary Clinton, they have remained chillingly loyal.
From time to time, during particularly significant elections such as the one which just put a white supremacist woman from Mississippi in the Senate, journalists will enquire of individuals who they intend to vote for, however, most air time is devoted to parsing the chances of each candidate, based on past performances of Democrats and Republicans, not only in a given state, but in each voting district, which parties constantly endeavor to ‘gerrymander’, meaning to draw their limits so as to include the most members of their party. Incidentally, rather than their knowledge of events are played out on the global stage, among the achievements that promote journalists to the top of the pack, are the ability to instantly recall which party won which district in which past election.
At present, this information bias explains American voters’ total ignorance of the events that led up to the current standoff between Russia and Ukraine in the tiny Black Sea, over whose traffic Russia has control by treaty. Five years after the campaign that put a fascist-oriented government in Kiev, the US pawn Ukraine initiated a provocation aimed at provoking Russia into actions that could be seen as even more aggressive than its annexation, via referendum, of Crimea. As the President canceled a scheduled meeting via Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the G20 summit at the very last moment, allowing the media to ignore the fact that Ukraine is not yet a member of NATO, entitled to its protection, he has essentially cleared the way for the war on Russia the US has been preparing for decades.
Deena Stryker is an international expert, author and journalist that has been at the forefront of international politics for over thirty years, exlusively for the online journal “New Eastern Outlook”.