With the congressional leadership of the Republican Party moving into lock-step with the edicts of Trump, are they actually starting to resemble Russia’s Duma? The argument could be made that this is the obvious case.
Let’s look at the comparisons.
The Duma, Russia’s legislative assembly, is in reality just a rubber stamp for whatever Putin wants. This is how a “law” was passed allowing him to stay in power until 2036. Of course, since it was a law passed by the Duma, we’re supposed to believe that he’s just so popular, blah, blah, blah. Meanwhile, Trump continues to spew about how 2020 was stolen from him. The current Republican leadership is toeing the same line, regardless of the absence of anything resembling evidence. But they are still trying to manufacture some with a ludicrous private “recount” by Qanon acolytes. But in a direct imitation of the Duma, Republican leadership just echoes Trump.
In Russia the concept of “independent journalism” no longer exists. After a few journalists got tossed off high buildings, that concept disappeared. Russian media is Putin media. Here, we have independent media still, but it—and the First Amendment that protects it—is under constant attacks by Trump and his cronies. The Trump media, FOX, OAN, Breitbart, etc., all spout the same script. It makes writing really easy—just cut and paste. But it is all his messaging and fact checkers needs not apply for work at these outlets.
The standard method of handing contrary information in Putin World is gaslight. For any negative message there is always a strong denial and then an “answer” in another direction no matter how ludicrous. In Trump World we have the stark reality of the January 6 Insurrection—really an attempted coup. Republicans are almost united now in their denial of it in the face of overwhelming evidence and terabytes of images, audio, videos, GPS information and witness testimony. Yet we are being asked to swallow that the fictional antifa was behind it. This is of course your typical Q-level conspiracy theory. And using conspiracy theories as a tool of government is the pattern of the despot or wannabe despot.
One of the big things that Putin has achieved in Russia is no opposition—surviving opposition at least. The most popular opposition leader, Alexie Navalny is barely alive, in prison and his movement is so suppressed that it has closed all of its offices. And this is in spite of a huge document drop by Navalny’s people documenting the monumental corruption of Putin on a personal level. Let’s be blunt. The Republican leadership has to be drooling at the very idea of doing something like this here. They are trying. It is an uphill battle for them, but they have been slowly flattening that hill. Florida’s governor just signed his state’s version of the return to Jim Crow anti-voting laws. You can’t yet jail your political enemies here on trumped up charges. But you can try to stop their supporters from voting for them.
In reality, many in the current Republican leadership hate Donal Trump’s guts. But they love his supporters because, let’s face it, they will believe just about anything. And if they can just keep those folks in their pockets till 2022, maybe they can get their power back—this is a massive encapsulation of their calculus.
In the fantastic series, The Newsroom, Aaron Sorkin ended season one by calling the Tea Party “the American Taliban.” Well, in that same fashion, the current Republican leadership should now be considered the American Duma, since in the end they serve Putin’s interests way ahead of America’s.