What a difference a week makes.
We’re used to seeing the forces of the state visiting petty hostility and obstruction on those from Moslem regions, but that’s Putin’s Russia, not the USA.
We’re used to seeing official spokespeople lying openly and shamelessly, and shutting down critical voices that dare question them, but that’s Putin’s Russia, not the USA.
We’re used to seeing personal favourites elevated into crucial national security and policy roles, instead of sober professionals, but that’s Putin’s Russia, not the USA.
We’re used to seeing the personal financial interests of presidential favourites protected and furthered by state policy, but that’s Putin’s Russia, not the USA.
I’m still not at all convinced by the whole ‘Siberian candidate’ line that presents Donald Trump as a puppet of Vladimir Putin’s. Instead, what we see, I fear, is a miserable and soul-rotting convergence of populist authoritarianisms, a backlash against a northern hemisphere trend towards pluralism, multi-culturalism and proceduralism. An atavistic desire for charismatic (in the technical sense: to me, The Donald has all the personal charisma of an Italian TV game show host), patriarchal, personalised leadership, for simple solutions to complex problems, for the easy substitution of confidence for competence.
The good news, though, is that just as a massive majority of Russians express their approval of Putin but are not eager for some civilisational clash with the West, are fully aware of and disgusted by the corruption and incompetence of the state, and just want to live a ‘normal’ life, so too the early signs are that Trump’s narrow and technical victory is not an expression of a true majority opinion of the American people. The bad news is that it is not so easy to mobilise silent majorities, and that in the meantime, the executive can do a lot of harm. It’s going to be a rough, dark few years.