Untitled, Pen and Ink on Paper, 11" x 10", Richard J Van Wagoner, Courtesy of Van Wagoner Family Trust**
Authoritarian GOP Propaganda and Goals for the United States are Becoming Indistinguishable from Those of Putin
“I would ask that you please not promote politically driven falsehoods that so clearly advance Russian interests,” Fiona Hill beseeched Republicans. You may recall her unflappable November 2019 testimony before the House Intelligence Committee in hearings leading to the first of Trump’s impeachments. She dismantled Republican attempts to blame Ukraine, not Russia, for interfering in the 2016 United States election in favor of Democrats, not Trump. She characterized it as “a fictional narrative that has been perpetrated and propagated by the Russian security services themselves.” The day before she testified, Putin told a group in Russia, “Thank God, no one is accusing us of interfering in the US elections anymore; now they’re accusing Ukraine.” The relationship between Republican and Putin propaganda and talking points had reached symbiosis.
Putin’s goal of undermining confidence in the United States presidential election, now having merged with that of Republicans, is near complete, as is the latter’s evolution from useful idiots to unwitting then witting Russian assets to the party bent on blowing up democracy in the United States. Plainly put, Republicans cannot win free and fair presidential elections and care more about wresting power from the majority than preserving the constitutional republic.
The predicate for the second impeachment was the build-up to the Big Lie, the Big Lie itself and, of course, Trump’s incitement of the insurrection based on the Big Lie. Post-January 6, GOP Representative Andrew Clyde of Georgia described the riot as “a normal tourist visit.” Senator Ron Johnson said it was a largely “peaceful protest.” And if the election hadn’t been stolen, it wouldn’t have been necessary in the first place, right? This, in the face of 7,060,140 fewer people than those who voted for President Biden, an Electoral College deficit of 74, 86 plaintiffs whose lawsuits challenging the election results were summarily thrown out of court, and 147 Republicans who voted to overturn the election results moments after Trump's insurrection breached the Capitol.
Parroting GOP and right-wing talking points this week, Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s Foreign Minister, said the people who stormed the United States Capitol are facing “persecution” by the US government. The next day Putin – who has the habit of poisoning, imprisoning, and murdering those in Russia who seek political change, those who demand free and fair elections, and those who expose his corruption in vivid, viral YouTube videos – announced the January 6 protesters weren’t “just a crowd of robbers and rioters. Those people had come with political demands.” The irony is palpable. I wonder if Putin has a history of promoting Big Lies. Alexei Navalny seems to think so. The day Democrats made their case against Trump’s attempt to undermine the election, Navalny was sentenced to two-and-a-half more years in prison on manufactured charges, after Putin’s poisoning failed to kill him. Navalny had returned to Russia, courageously and undeterred in his quest and willingness to risk everything for democracy and to expose Putin’s Big Lies. Navalny seems to think the claim that only Putin can restore Russia to greatness – the world’s leading kleptocracy under Putin – is a Big Lie.
“Can a democracy exist if its leaders base their power on flat-out lies to the public about the most essential principles of governance? Conversely, can an autocracy survive if it allows those lies to be refuted, in public, with compelling video, that reveals to the public how they have been conned?”
Today is the 77th anniversary of D-Day, the Allied invasion of Normandy, that began the liberation of France and set the stage for the Allied victory in western Europe. The common enemy was Nazi fascism. Wouldn’t it be a nice surpise that instead of being complicit, some – enough – on the right had even a scintilla of Alexei Navalny’s courage or that of the United States and Allied soldiers against fascism during World War II.
*My brother the very talented fiction writer and novelist, Robert Hodgson Van Wagoner, deserves considerable credit for offering both substantive and technical suggestions to https://medium.com/@richardvanwagoner and https://lastamendment.com. Rob’s second novel, a beautifully written suspense drama that takes place in Utah, Wyoming, and Norway, dropped on November17, 2020. Available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple Bookstore and your favorite local bookshop, this novel, The Contortionists, which Rob himself narrates for the audio version, is a psychological page-turner about a missing child in a predominantly Mormon community. I have read the novel and listened to the audio version twice. It is a literary masterpiece. The Contortionists, however, is not for the faint of heart.
**Richard J Van Wagoner is my father. His list of honors, awards and professional associations is extensive. He was Professor Emeritus (Painting and Drawing), Weber State University, having served three Appointments as Chair of the Department of Visual Arts there. He guest-lectured and instructed at many universities and juried numerous shows and exhibitions. He was invited to submit his work as part of many shows and exhibitions, and his work was exhibited in many traveling shows domestically and internationally. My daughter Angela Moore, a professional photographer, photographed more than 500 pieces of my father's work. On behalf of the Van Wagoner Family Trust, she is in the process of compiling a collection of his art work. The photographs of my father's art reproduced in https://medium.com/@richardvanwagoner and https://lastamendment.com are hers