Russia and the Heartland


Sally Yates’ testimony in the Senate today and Putin’s unsuccessful attempts to influence the French election over the weekend are again displacing taxes and health care in the headlines. Instead, morning shows and newspapers lead with teasers about Yates’ testimony and further stories about the Trump administration’s weak vetting of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

While Democrats in Congress, along with Lindsey Graham and John McCain, are rightly concerned about the details of Russian meddling, many Americans outside the DC bubble are less concerned. Here are 5 reasons Americans should be more worried about Donald Trump and Russia:

  1. President Trump has consistently expressed admiration for nationalistic, authoritarian leaders. Putin, like Egypt’s el-Sisi or Turkey’s Erdogan, has a strong grip on his country after silencing the opposition and co-opting the media. These are people Trump admires.
  2. Vladimir Putin does not have the interests of average Americans at heart. In fact, an intelligence report that surfaced in January details why the Russian president wants a weaker political and economic America.
  3. It’s still not known what President Trump’s business ties to Russia could include making it unclear if closer relations with Russia will help the Trump Organization at the expense of the American people. Until Donald Trump releases his taxes no one will really know the degree to which his financial interests may be intertwined with Russian businesses, banks, and government officials.
  4. Ongoing investigations – by the House, Senate, and the FBI – are taking valuable time and energy away from a White House that is by many accounts chaotic and constantly in crisis mode. If Donald Trump wants to make America great again, and if he has nothing to hide, he should cooperate fully with the investigations rather than issuing defiant tweets, obfuscating, or trying to change the subject.
  5. Putin’s vision of government and society is fundamentally un-American. Putin runs a country that places incredible power in the hands of a very few, very wealthy individuals. Americans concerned with political power concentrating in small groups of elite, wealthy denizens of the DC swamp should be wary of a closer relationship between Trump and Putin.

Our interests as an American people will not be better served by a closer relationship between the US and Russia unless Russia is able to join the ranks of modern democracies that advance the interests of their own people rather than the interests of a select few.