Republicans Think Democrats Are Worse Than Russia

To some on the American right, Democrats are such a threat that it justifies collaboration with a foreign power.

Radio and television host Sean Hannity speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, February 27, 2015
Radio and television host Sean Hannity speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland, February 27, 2015 (Gage Skidmore)

How can Republicans still support Donald Trump now that there is proof of collusion between his 2016 presidential campaign and Russia?

Several users on Twitter have suggested that the right-wing media would have gone berserk if this story was about Hillary Clinton. They’re right. Instead of giving Donald Trump Jr. a softball interview, Sean Hannity would be screaming bloody murder.

We know, because that’s what he did during the phony Clinton email scandal.

And perhaps that helps answer our question: The hard right has convinced itself that Democrats are such a threat to America that it justifies collaboration with a foreign power.

“What’s the crime?”

Before we learned that Trump Junior was aching to get dirt on Clinton from the Russian government (“I love it,” he wrote in an email), his father’s apologists had already argued that the campaign would have had every right to seek such information from anywhere.

Hannity wondered on his radio show a few weeks ago if it would be a crime for Team Trump to ask Russia to “tell the American people the truth” about Clinton.

Geraldo Rivera argued much the same on Hannity’s Fox News program:

If the Russian KGB chief is talking to Paul Manafort and the chief says, “You know, I’ve got this dirt here that says Hillary Clinton was this or that?” And Paul Manafort says next Wednesday, “Why don’t you release that? That’d be great for us.” I don’t know that that’s a crime at all. What’s the crime?

It actually is a crime for campaigns to receive anything of value from a foreign national.

Shouldn’t Rivera, who was an attorney before he became a crime reporter, have known that?

Or at least looked it up, like I did, before misleading millions of viewers?

Even if it weren’t a crime, wouldn’t it be unpatriotic and wrong?

Not to partisans like Hannity and Rivera. I suspect the reason is that they believe Clinton was guilty of something worse.

Threat to the country

Three years ago, the Pew Research Center asked Democrats and Republicans about their views of the other party and found that 36 percent of Republicans don’t just have an unfavorable opinion of Democrats but see them as a threat to the country.

27 percent of Democrats said the same about Republicans.

I don’t believe Pew has asked the same question more recently, but I wouldn’t be surprised if those numbers have gone up.

They did ask Americans this year about their views of the news media and found an even bigger difference: 85 percent of Republicans believe “the” (presumably non-conservative) press are bad for the country. Only half the number of Democrats agree.

Distorted view of reality

The average Republican voter, who listens to conservative talk radio and watches Fox News, has a distorted view of reality. To them, the Clinton email scandal was real but the Trump-Russia scandal is a fabrication.

And so what if Trump’s people colluded with Russia? If the Democrats are so dangerous, you can use that to justify anything.

Even conspiring with a hostile power against your own country.