Well, in a manner of speaking. He was in my head while I was in my garden.
My concerns about Donald Trump being elected President of the United States of America go back quite a while. I’ve written a fair number of blogs posted on this site over the past year. I’ve just organized them under a new category called The Trump Files.
I work a fairly large garden here at the end of Cathedral Drive, Hope Ness. I’ve often found my muse there during the growing season, as hoe in hand I hill my potatoes and spread straw to keep the potato bugs down. The hard work is good for the old brain, I guess.
The garden is now under snow now, of course, but I do what I can to stay alert, thoughtful, and well informed – like browse the on-line news, or take my good dog-friend, Buddy, out for a long walk in the crisp, cold winter air. Snowblowing the driveway with my trusty Massey-Ferguson 65 tractor in sub-zero temperatures is also pretty stimulating.
More than a year ago I started following the emergence of Donald Trump as an unlikely candidate for President of the U.S. He chose the Republican Party, sometimes referred to as the GOP (Grand Old Party). He used the populist approach, whipping up a certain small-c conservative segment of the American population by saying things he appeared to know instinctively would resonate with their fears, insecurities and prejudices. He was a proven reality-TV showman and knew how to get attention.
It worked. Trump is reportedly a billionaire, though it’s hard to know for sure because he has refused to release his income tax returns as Presidential candidates have routinely done for a long time. Despite his wealth, he managed to pass himself off to his growing base as just a regular guy. He said and did things that would have de-railed the usual Presidential candidate, but it didn’t seem to matter. He won the electoral college, that peculiar feature of American Presidential elections put in place by the founders who didn’t quite have enough faith in the common man to make the final choice. Since then though it has become little more than a rubber-stamping relic of the past. But there it was, and it didn’t matter that he didn’t win the popular vote.
Anyway, by last spring I had already been following the Trump phenom pretty closely, with an almost morbid fascination, I suppose. I was out in the garden one lovely spring day, hoe in hand, hilling the young potato plants and thinking about Trump’s complimentary comments about Russian President Vladimir Putin being such a strong leader with a firm control of his country. That was in comparison with then-U.S. President Barack Obama, so he said.
I remember being surprised Trump would say such a thing if he knew much at all about the ruthless, authoritarian methods Putin has used for years to stay in power.
That led me to think about what Trump had also said at the time about not necessarily coming to the aid of a NATO country under attack without first checking to see if that country had kept up its share of defence spending, as required under the NATO agreement. (I note, by the way, now-President Trump has recently called NATO “obsolete.”)
At any event, Trump’s initial comments last year certainly sent shock waves through the NATO community of countries, especially in those that were formerly within the territory of the now-defunct Soviet Union.
It’s widely accepted by international observers that Putin wants to regain as much of the territory and world-power status of the Soviet Union as he can.
Then, suddenly, I had this thought that stopped me in my work right then and there. I remember looking up into the some clouds blowing by as I thought: I wonder if Putin and Trump have a deal?
That was long before Trump won the Republican nomination as the party’s Presidential candidate, before the news about U.S. intelligence agencies finding evidence of Russian hacking to influence the election. Then the existence of a dossier of unverified information about the Russians possibly having compromising information about Trump became widely and publicly known. That actually happened after his election victory. Nothing much more, as far as I know, has been heard about it for some time. Meanwhile other controversies related to his record-setting pace of Executive Orders have lately been taking up a lot of public attention.
The Order suspending the entire U.S. refugee program for four months, stopping the entry of Syrian refugees indefinitely, and imposing a ban for at least 90 days on people from seven countries in the Middle East entering the U.S. has proven to be the most troublesome for the new President. It has sparked outrage and protests in the U.S.
The Order doesn’t specifically mention Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Sudan, and Somalia are majority-Muslim countries, and Trump and his advisors have claimed it’s not anti-Muslim. But it’s certainly well known that during the campaign he called for a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. “until we know what the hell is going on.”
And, as I write this, Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City and a Trump advisor, says Trump asked him for advice on how to set up a Muslim ban that would pass legal muster. Giuliani has a legal background, as a federal prosecutor.
Nothing has happened since that moment last spring in the potato patch to lessen my wondering about the possibility of a Putin-Trump deal, under threat, or not. If anything, there’s been more food for thought.
But I didn’t have any proof, of course. I’m just an old gardener with a few secluded acres near the woods in little, old Hope Ness. What could I possibly know? I don’t have any firearms handy, let alone a smoking gun.
It was just a notion, you see – just a little something that came to mind, and for the life of me won’t go away.
I will say this though: if Putin set out to use Trump to destabilize the the U.S. politically, socially, and in every other way, he certainly has succeeded, perhaps beyond his wildest dreams.
I suppose, or should I say, I hope, someone will get to the bottom of it sooner than later.
After all, it’s not just the fate of the U.S. that’s at stake.
And maybe the time will come when we can all look at this misbegotten episode in history as a learning experience. The sight of a lot of Americans protesting the politics of hate, intolerance and divisiveness is a very good thing, and may bode well after all for a more hopeful future.
This blog was partly inspired by the daily prompt yellow.