I have not been right since Friday night, when I saw the news that the CIA had concluded that Russia had intentionally been using its espionage efforts to swing the election to Donald Trump. That was quickly followed by Trump's unhinged, mendacious response, which contained many obvious lies, but also exposed a massive conflict between the president elect and the main intelligence service. Then after that I heard that Rex Tillerson, perhaps Putin's biggest ally in America, would be Trump's Secretary of State.
We are in uncharted waters here, folks. Either the incoming president will be doing the bidding of a hostile nation that manipulated the election to get him into power, or the nation's main intelligence agency is actively trying to undermine an incoming president. (Or both.) Based on the Tillerson pick and other evidence, my money is on the first option.
We are thus met with the paradox that the biggest nationalists in the country are solidly behind a man whose primary foreign policy effect will be to empower Russia. They don't see it this way, of course, because these people believe that they are the "real Americans." If they are "real America," then anything and anyone they support is de facto American, and anyone they oppose is trying to destroy America. Hence the Tea Party cries of "take OUR country back."
I've tangled with these people before. Back in 2003 when I lived in Champaign, Illinois, I participated in protests during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. Then, one Saturday, our usual spot was taken over by a large group of people with flags who had been rallied there by the local talk radio station. They had a PA system, which even blasted "Born in the USA" (Springsteen wept) and the local talk radio demagogue excoriated us. (Usually it was just the usual person driving by in their car.) For the crime of not wanting my fellow Americans to kill and die for a lie, I was being called disloyal. The counter-patriotism of me and my brethren on the picket line never really got much of a public airing.
One of the Left's many failures in recent decades has been its inability to formulate its own version of patriotism. This failure gives creedence to conservatives who question the loyalty of their opponents, and makes it harder for those on the Left to draw converts. The Russian intervention in the election, and Trump's apparent desire to do the Kremlin's bidding, present us with a golden opportunity to develop a counter-patriotism. In a time of rising nationalism if the Left cannot articulate a vision of the nation then I fear it has absolutely no chance. This was something that I think Barack Obama did well in his rise to the presidency. There is a positive vision of the nation out there, and now is the time to articulate it and draw strength from it.