In his state-of-the-nation speech yesterday, Vladimir Putin triumphantly boasted that Russia has "immunity" from the "populism and demagogy" currently plaguing the West.
And for the time being he appears to be right -- sort of.
Populists and demagogues can't win elections in Russia, except of course, those populists and demagogues who are manufactured, preapproved, and controlled by the Kremlin.
True populists and demagogues can't win Russian elections any more than true liberals can because, well, because Russia's elections are fixed.
Putin's remarks were also deeply disingenuous.
Because while the Kremlin didn't create the antiestablishment mood sweeping the West, it has been doing everything in its power to exploit and exacerbate it.
It has supported and financed Western populists and demagogues; and it has launched disinformation campaigns to make the political ground fertile for their success.
So while Putin has decimated democracy in Russia, he has weaponized democracy in the West.
Cynical? Sure. But what do you expect from this regime?
Effective? At this point it appears so.
But here's the thing.
The populist revolt sweeping the West is essentially an uprising of those economically left behind by globalization.
And there are many such people in Russia as well.
And while in the West the losers of globalization can vent their anger through the safety valve of the democratic process, in Russia they will have no place to go but the streets.
And when they do, it could get quite ugly for the Putin regime.
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