To be clear, Russia will not save us, but anti-Russian sentiment will not save us either. A number of Democrats seem pledged to run 2018 on a Russophobic platform, betting a win on their rage-against-Donald Trump’s-legitimacy strategy.
Yet Democrats have been testing this line of attack since last Fall. We certainly have seen an enormous burst of progressive action since that time, with millions hitting the streets and phones to oppose Trump. But it seems the vast majority of activated constituents were triggered by Trump’s specific plans on health care and immigration, or by his broad-strokes affronts to liberal sensibilities (see: racism, misogyny, incivility).
But has the anti-Russia tack of party messaging itself worked out well for Democrats?
Doesn’t seem so.
Pegging Trump as Manchurian Candidate or Useful Idiot or Corrupt Mastermind may sound like a functional strategy to folks who still want to blame November’s tragedy on Comey alone, but the strategy has not been working so far.
And while it certainly is possible that any one of these paranoid conspiracies may turn out to be true, it is far more likely that we discover Trump is just an asshole with a lot in common with the assholes running Russia. It could be devastating if the conspiracies that Democrats build up come undone in the months preceding the election.
Even if those conspiracies hold, and even if those conspiracies brought voters out against Republicans in the mid-terms, the new Democratic coalition would be built on anti-Russian sentiment and nationalistic fear. That isn’t conducive to accomplishing any of the policy agendas that could give progressives lasting electoral credibility.
Thankfully, there are some amazing things we can organize around.