“…nothing went on in Trump world, especially the campaign, without Mr. Trump’s knowledge and approval.” –Michael Cohen
Of the many, many talking points we’ve been subjected to since Donald Trump took office, it seems like one of the more universally accepted claims is that he didn’t really want to win. Yes, actually, he did; and when you say otherwise, you are repeating propaganda. His propaganda.
This topic was flawlessly covered on last week’s episode of Gaslit Nation (you are listening to that podcast, right?), entitled “Rotting Monuments”. If you listen to the episode, this portion begins right around the fifteen minute mark. But I wanted to synthesize their analysis in writing, so we can always find it when we need it. Fellow visual learners, this one’s for you.
People keep saying, oh he didn’t really want to be President, it was just a branding thing. It was just so he could launch a media empire and have his own show or channel or whatever where he could spew his vile, racist garbage. No. No, no, no, no. When you unpack this assertion even the tiniest bit it disintegrates. First of all, Trump already had a media empire. He was accepted, adored even, legitimated, and frequently given an unchallenged platform on mainstream outlets and talk shows. If he’d wanted to expand in whatever way, he could have done so easily. The infrastructure was there. He didn’t need to run for President. Secondly, how would losing a major contest have helped his brand in any way? Trump has carefully cultivated his image on winning everything, all the time. He even stated on multiple occasions during the campaign that he wouldn’t accept the results if Clinton won. Also, he’s a rank misogynist, as is his base. So how does losing to a woman – and Hillary Freaking Clinton at that – help him out? Of course we know it doesn’t. We also know he likely couldn’t personally stomach it, either. This claim is specious.
The second talking point getting repeated ad nauseum is that oh, he couldn’t have really wanted to be President because he was in the thick of negotiating Trump Tower Moscow. That proves it was all a branding stunt. Uh, how so? Because you assumed Trump would do the right thing and divest his business interests? He hasn’t divested one bit since taking office, nor has he shown one iota of an inclination to do so in the future. It’s not an either/or situation with Trump and we need to stop pretending it ever was or ever will be. He’s not going to choose one or the other, and he never planned to do so or even thought he would need to. The man has no scruples, we know this.
A vital, pertinent point we must always remember is that Vladimir Putin simply could not afford a Hillary Clinton presidency. He already despised her from her tenure as Secretary of State, he knows she’s far more hawkish and sanction-prone than Obama, and her presidency would have further isolated Putin’s Russia on the world stage. Also, avowed misogynist Putin’s absolute worst nightmare would have been a woman running the European Union PLUS a woman running the United States. Angela Merkel alone is enough of a thorn in his side, he couldn’t deal with both of those strong women teaming up. In Putin’s eyes, there was no more urgent time to tap his little buddy Donald Trump on the shoulder. And if you’re Trump, who is NOT a political neophyte by the way, the timing is perfect for you, too. He’s deeply in debt to Russian banks (which are his last resort as American banks washed their hands of him years ago), entwined with the Russian mob, and they probably have kompromat on him and/or his children. Had President Hillary Clinton cracked down on Russia – and it’s all but indisputable she would have – it’s almost certain Trump would have been negatively affected in some significant way. As Sarah Kendzior put it, “He (Trump) did not need to run for President, but if you are in trouble, if you are, for example, backed by a transnational crime syndicate that you yourself have been participating in, with your family, for the last thirty years, perhaps it’s advantageous to grab some executive power and make yourselves immune from prosecution.”
And now to pile on further motivation for both Putin and Trump: do you honestly think Hillary Clinton as President of the United States would not have found out about the Russian meddling in our election? Do you honestly think she would have propped her feet up and shrugged it off? Hell no! She would have shut down those Russian troll farms in a hot minute, she would have punished Russia for election shenanigans with the harshest sanctions they could imagine, and she would have ordered an immediate investigation into Trump’s campaign and the possible collusion. And then she would have prosecuted him and his family and his closest associates to the fullest extent of the law. Trump couldn’t afford that. Putin couldn’t afford that. And they went to enormous lengths to make sure it didn’t happen.
In conclusion: look, I get that it’s easier to think he didn’t really want to win and this was a fluke. It’s scary to think this was a giant, deliberate, and evil plan the whole time, and even scarier to realize that it worked. It’s beyond disconcerting to wonder why no one (like maybe the FBI? Or the Obama administration?) took any drastic measures to stop this from happening. But Trump and his people know that this particular pill is easier to swallow than facing the truth, which is why it’s what they’re selling. We cannot buy it. We have to stare the harsh, ugly, frightening, chilling truth dead in the face and acknowledge it. We have a wannabe autocrat, Russian asset, ruthlessly corrupt sociopath in the White House by design. It’s sickening, but unfortunately it’s true. Only when we accept that truth can we begin to fight it.
My Favorite Turkey Chili
- 4 or 5 dried ancho chiles
- 2 chipotles in adobo
- 1 tbs olive oil
- 4 oz. bacon, chopped
- 2 lbs. Ground turkey, not extra-lean, dark meat or mostly dark meat
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 1 heaping tbs smoked paprika
- 1 heaping tbs ground cumin
- 1 regular tbs ground coriander
- 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 pinches ground cinnamon
- ¼ cup tomato paste
- 1 12 oz. bottle of Mexican beer (I used Negro Modelo)
- Garnishes of your choice: I used chopped raw onion, snipped scallions, sour cream for my husband, LOTS of shredded cheese, and Frito scoops for dipping
- Toast the anchos in a small stockpot over medium-high heat until they are fragrant. This happens very quickly and burned anchos will ruin your entire chili, so don’t walk away at this step. Add enough water to cover the chiles and bring to a nice boil. Once boiling, shut off the heat, cover the pot and let it sit for exactly 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, lift the chiles out of the soaking liquid and place in a blender, along with the chipotles in adobo and enough water to make a thick puree. Puree until very smooth - no one wants to bite down on a big piece of chile. Set this puree aside.
- Place a Dutch oven or other large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil, then cook the bacon bits until the fat has rendered and the bacon has browned and crisped. Remove with a slotted spoon and leave the bacon fat in the pot. Let the bacon cool, then eat it.
- Still over medium-high heat, add the ground turkey. Cook, breaking up the turkey into crumbles as it browns. Once no traces of pink remain and there is a little browning on the turkey, add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion has softened but not browned. Now add the salt and pepper to taste, the smoked paprika, cumin, coriander, cocoa powder, and cinnamon. Stir to coat everything with the spices. Add the tomato paste and stir about 1 minute until combined. Add the beer and deglaze the pan, stirring to scrape the flavorful browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
- Add the ancho puree. Simmer over low heat to thicken to your desired texture, easily 20 to 30 minutes, possibly longer. Stir occasionally and keep an eye out so the bottom doesn’t scorch.
- Serve with the garnishes of your choice. Leftovers get even better!