Alexei Navalny Is Dead. Is His Movement Gone With Him?

Alexei Navalny died last week at age 47 in the prison where he was serving a 19-year sentence for extremism. With just one month left before a presidential election in which Putin is nearly guaranteed to win, the pro-democracy opposition movement in Russia is more beleaguered than ever.

Guest: Joshua Yaffa, contributing writer at The New Yorker and the author of Between Two Fires: Truth, Ambition, and Compromise in Putin’s Russia.

When leaders reveal themselves, the next step is ours

“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

Even if you’ve never read any of Maya Angelou’s books, even if you have no idea who the late author is, you know that quote. It’s the go-to “told you so” to admonish anyone surprised by terrible behavior from someone with a record of behaving terribly.

It’s the phrase women use to comfort the girlfriend who swore she could succeed in reforming her “bad boy” boyfriend when the relationship predictably crashes and burns.

And, in the time of Donald Trump and his march to the Republican presidential nomination and maybe back to the White House, it has been repeated so often, it’s cliché.

So why is the not-so-shocking realization that Trump means what he says about retribution and a coming dictatorship greeted with a shrug?

OK, that’s not strictly true.

A few saw the endgame from the time Trump morphed from reality TV star to politician. And now, a rash of articles and books are warning that he means exactly what he has been saying all along.

But for those just now seeing the malevolence behind the bluster, it sure took a long time and a genuine insurrection for the amusement to turn into disgust.

After Angelou’s words have proven true time and again, no sensible person should doubt her wisdom. Yet, many continue to make excuses, insisting that anyone who takes Trump’s words and record seriously is being ridiculous and that American voters need not take a closer look at the phony wizard behind the curtain.

Will an empowered President Trump yank the country out of NATO, blowing up longtime global alliances? Will he weaponize a Justice Department newly staffed with cronies like Jeffrey Clark, the attorney general-in-waiting whose desperate promotion as a means to keep Trump in office after his 2020 defeat was foiled only by threats of mass resignations? Will Trump obliterate the Constitution by imposing religious tests and demanding loyalty oaths to determine who is and is not truly “American”?

Kash Patel, a former Trump administration adviser who is likely to return if Trump does, was giddy when he announced plans to go after perceived enemies in the media with criminal and civil prosecutions. His friendly podcast interviewer was pardoned-but-hardly-chastened Steve Bannon.

Imagine what disgraced and pardoned former Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn unleashed would do. Might he reactivate his plan to send the military to run elections again — after voting machines that delivered the “wrong” result have been seized?

Jaw-dropping? Maybe only to some.

That’s the scary part.

Sacrificing democracy to belong to a shrinking ‘club’

It was a scene both disturbing and expected: former President Donald Trump embracing one of the insurrectionists who stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, with the intention of overthrowing the results of the 2020 election.

Micki Larson-Olson was found guilty of a misdemeanor charge of resisting police as they tried to clear the grounds that day. Yet, apparently, there are no hard feelings against Trump. In fact, quite the opposite. After driving from Texas to the New Hampshire campaign stop of the current candidate and former president, Larson-Olson got emotional over the recognition, the photographic record of her meeting with him, and his autograph on her backpack.

“And he gave me the pen,” she said, according to a Washington Post report. That she belongs to a QAnon offshoot is also no surprise.

I understand.

She was thrilled to be a member of the club, one that is losing the culture and has been rejected at the ballot box, but needs to feel special, as special as the insecure little boys who once locked their ramshackle clubhouse before scrawling “no girls allowed” on the door.

All those Washington invaders who throw around the word “patriot” as they trash America’s ideals — all those “true believers” in election fraud myths, the Kari Lakes and Mike “My Pillow Guy” Lindells of the world, the veterans and police officers who found themselves on the wrong side of the law that January day — I suspect they realize in their heart of hearts that Joe Biden tallied the most votes in the last presidential election.

Their beef is where many of those votes came from.

Democratic candidates Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and Biden may have won the presidency fair and square, but each failed to gain a majority of the white vote. That means a coalition of, in Trump loyalists’ eyes, “other” voters put them over the top — and that breaks the brains of a lot of folks.

A fantasy world of election-rigging schemes attempts to cover up their resentments, but instead it shines a spotlight on them.

Will Democrats raise the volume on expressing what they believe in?

Does this mean Democrats don’t have to be afraid anymore?

You know what I mean. Though Democratic politicians and the party itself stand for certain values and policies, sometimes, when they promote and defend them in the public square, well, they do it in a whisper. This is despite the popularity of many of these views, and despite the fact that the folks they are trying to persuade with cautious hedging were never going to vote for them in the first place.

It’s a problem Republicans traditionally have not had. No matter how extreme or unpopular the opinion, you have known exactly where they stand. Hit them with truth or logic, science or math, and you could bet they would double down. And it has worked; bluster and browbeating have the ability to drown out most everything else.

All that may be changing.

Black Issues Forum: Biden MAGA GOPers, Student Debt and Black Women Athletes

President Joe Biden uses bold language to call out MAGA Republicans, and his student debt relief package marks another promise kept. Serena Williams evolves from tennis while Black women athletes on the Duke volleyball team continue to fight for respect. Journalist Mary C. Curtis, attorney Harold Eustache and UNC student Greear Webb join host Deborah Holt Noel to share their perspectives.

The state of democracy one year after January 6

Talked about the state of democracy one year after January 6 with Charles Blow and Ohio State professor Hasan Kwame Jeffries on BNC’s ‘Prime.’

Dysfunction in America is no longer just knocking on the door

My college roommate has been much in demand in the last few years. (In truth, the presidency of Donald Trump marked a definite uptick in her mainstream media popularity.) You see, her academic specialty is Sinclair Lewis. And if his 1935 novel, “It Can’t Happen Here,” was once seen as dystopian political fantasy, it became — in some circles — a plausible blueprint for the state of the United States of America. What, exactly, is happening here?

It’s human nature not to take crises too seriously until they come knocking at your front door. But we’ve passed that point on a host of issues, with too many citizens either in denial or using the dysfunction as a partisan tool rather than an all-hands-on-deck call to action.

Joe Biden, in his first address to the United Nations as president, asked questions the world hasn’t yet answered: “Will we meet the threat of challenging climate — the challenging climate we’re all feeling already ravaging every part of our world with extreme weather? Or will we suffer the merciless march of ever-worsening droughts and floods, more intense fires and hurricanes, longer heat waves and rising seas?”

It wasn’t that long ago, in 2015, in fact, that Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Inhofe toted a snowball onto the Senate floor to prove that the globe was not warming. And while that demonstration stands out for its absurdity and rejection of science, there are still leaders who downplay the importance of the effects of global warming, despite the reality of ever-more-destructive hurricanes in the South, never-ending fires in the West and scenes of New York subway stations awash in flood waters.

The U.S. has rejoined the Paris climate agreement that the Trump administration backed the country out of. But the size and scope of provisions in the congressional budget package to deal with the effects of climate change, a major part of the Biden agenda, are still being debated, including within the Democratic Party that barely controls the House and Senate.

That won’t stop climate from touching almost every other issue, from housing to food production to immigration. Certainly, those seeking refuge in the U.S. from places such as Central America and Haiti, ravaged by developments they may have had nothing to do with, won’t be stopped by walls or agents on horseback.