March 20, 2023 | Reading Time: 4 minutes
They sabotaged Carter, too
From Reagan to Trump, treason is optional.
I said Friday the best way to understand Donald Trump’s relationship with Vladimir Putin is to think of the former as the leader of a totally made up confederacy and the latter as the leader in a totally made up presidency, who are together in league against the real America.
Trump’s confederacy of the mind and spirit is what I call Realamerica, not to be confused with the real America. Realamericans live there according to God’s law, which demands that white Christian men be on top of society. In Realamerica, the US Constitution was handed down by God, and every single thing should stay the same as it was at the founding. The goal of Realamericans is the domination or sabotage of the real America in which their makebelieve confederacy exists.
For Putin, the best way of winning the war in Ukraine is for a Trump victory in 2024. For Trump, the best way to win the presidency of the real America, and therefore escape criminal accountability, is to keep partnering with Putin in an attempted repeat of the 2016 election. I called this pact the Russo-Realamerican alliance. A hostile foreign government hopes to destabilize the real America from the inside, for the purpose of destabilizing European democracies, and the leader of an imaginary confederacy inside that real country wants to help.
Since Friday, two things have occurred to underscore my thesis. One, the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for Putin’s arrest on charges of war crimes related to his country’s invasion of democratic Ukraine. Two, Trump said Sunday he expected to be arrested in connection with a hush-money investigation involving Stormy Daniels. Trump called for mass “protests,” as he did on January 6, 2021.
Not only do these men hold illegitimate power. Not only do they use that illegitimate power to attack, erode and undermine legitimate national governments, like the one in Ukraine and like the one here in the real America. They are outside generally accepted boundaries of the law. They are inauthentic. They are lawless. They are criminal.
Yet we face the prospect of another Trump candidacy. You’d think the Republicans, as rah rah as they are, would have a problem with a candidate openly in league with a hostile foreign government. You’d think they’d reject Trump as the 2024 nominee. But all things being equal, though he may be indicted for crimes committed in New York state, Donald Trump will likely win the Republican nomination.
I put it like this, because for mostpeople, it’s difficult to understand how a former president could ever side with Vladimir Putin, who has gone to war with a fellow democratic state (Ukraine) and who threatens the long enlightened project of the European Union.
By thinking of Donald Trump as the leader of a makebelieve confederacy, which exhibits nearly all the same attributes of the former Confederate States of America, we overcome the disbelief that’s associated with a former president siding with the enemy.
Trump was illegitimate then, as the president of a real country (America). He’s illegitimate now, as the president of a fake country (Realamerica). In neither does Trump ask for the consent of the government for the purpose of governing in their name. In both, he, like Putin, expects loyalty to him above all, even the rule of law.
There’s another reason why I say this confederacy of the mind and spirit is a “nation” inside a real nation – so that normal people can see the United States is not a united nation, never has been, and the United States, in a very real sense, is as fictional as Trump’s confederacy of the mind and spirit. These United States did not emerge organically. They were imagined into being. The difference is that the confederacy is illegal and unmade, the union is legal and made.
The difference is mostpeople chose the latter over the former.
Somepeople, which is to say the inhabitants of Realamerica, will never accept the real America. It would be the end for them if they did. To them, truth, justice, equality and liberty for everyone means robbing them of the same. As long as the real America plays by the rules of Realamerica, all is well. But if the real America does not obey, then Realamericans are free to take the law into their own hands. They are free to sabotage, even destroy, what they cannot control.
Most of us believe that the possibility of the indictment of a former president would be the exception to the rule. But what is the rule when Realamericans reserve the right to commit treason when the real America (that is, a democratic majority) denies their right to rule? What is an exception when for somepeople treason is optional?
The Times reported over the weekend that Jimmy Carter’s reelection campaign was sabotaged by a group of Texas Republicans. Carter struggled, right up to Election Day, with a crisis involving American hostages in Iran. These Realamericans, as I’d call them, went to Iran to say that a Republican president would offer them a better deal. The hostages were released, but only after Ronald Reagan’s victory.
The Times report has one source, a witness to the conspiracy, whose story was corroborated by others not involved. Whether the trip made the difference for Carter is hard to say. That the trip happened at all, however, illustrates my point – that there exists an imaginary “nation” inside this real nation. Its inhabitants are dedicated to the cause of domination and control. If they can’t control, they destroy.
It’s God’s law.
Which happens to be whatever Realamericans say.
John Stoehr is the editor of the Editorial Board. He writes the daily edition. Find him @johnastoehr.