This week, President Obama announced forceful actions against Russia, expelling 35 diplomats and closing two facilities used for Russian spying activities as retaliation for Russian hacking of American political institutions, a move meant to propel Donald Trump to the Oval Office.
Both Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans criticized President Obama's actions retaliating against Russian election hacking aimed at making Donald Trump president. However, the strongest American action yet against cyber-attacks garnered radically divergent responses from the two Republican camps: Donald Trump praised Putin for not responding in kind and called for putting behind us the fact that he owes his elevation to the Oval Office to the Russian dictator, while most Congressional Republicans framed Obama's actions as insufficient.
This sets up an awkward dynamic between the upcoming White House of Donald Trump, and what he expects to be his obedient servants in the undivided Republican Congress. Congressional Republicans know as well as Trump himself that their new president owes his full allegiance to the same foreign adversary they have always trumpeted their favorite president, Ronald Reagan, for bringing down. Anti-Russian hawks still control major powerhouses within the Republican establishment in Congress, but if they truly dive into the depth of Putin's hacks, they will be left with no choice but to conclude that the top of their unified Republican government is illegitimate.
For Trump himself, Putin's own inaction presents a larger challenge than President Obama's forceful action. Putin's government openly cited the upcoming Trump White House as the key reason they did not retaliate, clearly meaning that Putin expects his puppet to fully placate and provide restitution to the Kremlin - whether by reversing Obama's actions and welcoming Russian spies back to the US or some other way.
If Trump moves to do just that, no greater evidence will be required to prove that Trump is, in fact, a Russian puppet who owes his years in office fully and completely to Putin, eradicating American sovereignty. It is not a conclusion that even the best obfuscation masters in the news media and political Right will be able to avoid. Trump's capitulation to Russia as president will provide a groundswell for a popular upheaval, and provided Democrats take advantage of that every single day, Congressional GOP just may be out of moves to protect their Frankenstein.
If Trump does not reverse Obama's actions or compensate Russia fully for them, Putin and the Russian government will still be in possession of material they did not release during the elections, namely RNC emails. Putin has insured himself against Trump going rogue on Russia once he wins the election. The withheld RNC emails are Putin's chips, and he will either bring Trump to his heels to compromise Obama's actions or be destroyed along with his chief of staff.
It is hard to predict that Republicans in Congress won't choose to take Trump's lead and capitulate to Putin wholesale anyway, given the Right's love for power and their disdain for country. But President Obama has thrown down a gauntlet as much for the Russians as he has for Republicans here in the United States. He has given the patriotic Left the power to stand up to Republican tyranny next year.
Let us pick up that baton and run with it.