On nearly every level, from nearly every angle, in just about every way... what's emerging about the contours of Russian involvement in this election has everything to do with the farce and failure that remains of the Republican Party.
Sure, this is a horror story starring Donald Trump, and 18 months of selling out and capitulation to a lying egomaniacal narcissist, but what's also involved is the much longer story of a reflexive red-hating commie naming right wing, which collapsed on itself as the Cold War came to an end. Without their easy to name enemy, the right has floundered, struggling to accept a Russia that tried, glumly, to reverse years of autocratic rule from a Communist dictatorship, only to watch a new, and more dangerous oligarchy take shape under a well trained former KGB operative named Vladimir Putin.
Republican admiration for Putin has always been a strange and wondrous thing, a "we know he's bad, but somehow he does it so good" well of admiration and unease that conservatives can't seem to shake. Like many liberals, I don't especially see the appeal - it appears to be an element of the conservative DNA that simply finds authoritarianism appealing, no matter the source.
I tend to think that it's in that context of the guilty, even dirty, conservative love for Putin that we have to understand why Putin's putative involvement in this year's election is causing them both heartache and denial. They know he's bad and wrong... but they just can't bring themselves to quit him.
And the icing on top of that is... without Putin, did they really even win this election at all?
This isn't some fear mongering piece of tinfoil hat conspiracies; the election is over and the result we have is the result we got. But Russian attempts to hack US computer systems, with the express interest of affecting this election and even attempting to alter the result has to be deeply concerning on several levels. At the very least, it's naive not to acknowledge the role leak after leak of internal e-mails and communications from within the Democratic establishment had on the overall outcome; even on a small level, it's clear minds were hanged and votes affected by the revelations in those private communications, most of which were shared without context or clear understanding of their overall place in a longer discussion.
Yes, it's simplistic to say "the Russians changed the outcome of the election" - the forces in play are multiple and complex, and it's not the Russians who made explicit appeals to racial fears and class resentments that drew an overwhelming number of rural white voters, mostly male, to vote for Trump in heavily lopsided numbers. It's not the Russians who convinced the FBI to run roughshod through Huma Abedin's e-mail inbox with wild claims of unseen e-mails that turned out to be totally nonexistent, creating seeds of doubt that probably drove white women back to Trump in large enough numbers to change the outcomes in close states. There are people who chose Trump clearly understanding the liar he'd been and the dangers he posed, and went ahead with him anyway. And that, ultimately, is on them, not on Russian interference of any kind.
But still. What's disturbing and so much more in all of this is both how we got here - that aforementioned weak sister element of the right whose secret shameful love of Putin paralyzes their ability to stand up to obvious wrongdoing - and how we can't move forward in a serious way to address a serious threat. Whatever Putin attempted to get here is beside the point: here we are, faced with the threat of a dangerous militaristic manipulator and all we've got is... an unpopular, inexperienced President whose flaws are manifest, who cannot remotely stand up on his own, or lead the world in standing up, to the obvious dangers we face.
Even now, we face the astonishing prospect that a lifelong oil executive with enormous business and financial connections to that same dangerous Russian leader will be blank checked into Secretary of State by a Senate too conflicted and too partisan to unite behind even the basic obviousness of foreign intervention into America's electoral process. Never mind the ever increasing evidence of just how awful on so many levels a Trump presidency will be to everything from the treatment of the poor to the protection of our natural resources to the basic notions of decency and mutual respect we've used to guide our interactions with one another. I'm not concerned because the Russians tried to manipulate our election. I'm terrified because apparently, it worked, and they didn't even try that hard. Most of it, apparently, we are all too willing to do to ourselves. And we don't even have the energy or the will to try and stop it, now that we know. And that's what we get for stopping Communism.