Written years from now history will describe the fall of Mariupol not so much a military as political defeat. Then more years hence when books are written about the end of modern America, a connection will be made with Mariupol.
Then more and more cross references will weave a history of our current times as one of privileged classes intoxicated by their comfort, unmotivated to carry on the battles for everyone that got them to where they were: Coopted if not corrupted by their own satisfaction.
Many of us are distressed and perhaps even inspired by the Alamo-like story of Mariupol, of the comradery we feel with Zelensky, of the refreshing “discovery” that many wheat farms north of Odessa are as big as they are in the Dakotas… that we forget an important reason this war is happening is that the Ukrainians failed to develop their new democracy when they got it. In fact they squandered it.
With “fake news” out of Russia, adoration for autocratic leaders and no small amount of equivocation from us Ukraine moved in the same direction as it neighbor, Belarus.
It may have started with James Baker, elder Bush’s Secretary of State, who apparently promised Gorbachev that Ukraine would be kept “neutral.” Bush exploded when he heard this and that started the continuous mission from Bush through Clinton for a rapid expansion of NATO.
But Ukraine refused to jump onto the bandwagon that careened right down its main street by the Bush’ volte-face. Most of the old Soviet republics did.
Ukraine was always one of the most prosperous parts of the Soviet Union. Newly freed from the Moscow orbit its oligarchs went bonkos. They exploited the capitalist component of democracy to the extreme and engineered one of the notable former Soviet Republics defined by the golden toilets of its dictators.
Those old Soviet oligarchs who got control of Ukraine could have been stopped … by the vote. But relieved and hopeful having thrown off the Soviet yoke, a big majority of Ukrainians just didn’t seem to care. They didn’t vote. Now, they pay the price for that complacency.
Zelensky’s election marked a new, more democratic era. Corruption was attacked; the oligarchs began to flee. But the youthful, progressive culture that Zelensky tried so hard to develop ran square into the Trump bulwark, and besides, it was probably just too late.
And so it may be for America.
We, the American privileged, became far too complacent with the cultural advances and political success of the Obama era. Like Ukrainians freed from the Soviet yoke, we progressives – freed we thought from the Tea Parties’ antics – relaxed too much.
Our threat isn’t an old colonizer ready to recoup us. It’s an internal conflict borne of an antique constitution butting heads with exploding human rights’ awareness. More simply it’s the tyranny of a never quite privileged white minority working class, overwhelming a new majority of diverse races and genders who were definitely on their way up but took it all too much for granted.
Many of us forgot that you have to fight for what’s right, not just stand around waiting for it.
The leaders of the tyrannous minority (of which I don’t think Trump is smart enough to be) have hypnotized the terrorized to elect their bear puppets (Trump) while we progressives split ourselves over whether student loan forgiveness should be $10000 or $50000.
The dedication and loyalty of these cult members far eclipses our infighting over Sports Team names, titillation with glass ceilings crashing and concrete statues of Andrew Jackson crumbling. While we kill ourselves over the morality of the filibuster, they enslave women.
We let down our guard. We skipped a vote. We thought we were too old to run for office. We sent some money, but now it may be too late. The midterms will reveal how powerful the minority is and how weak the majority remains. It’s a real nail biter and only one thing is certain: we’ll deserve everything we get.