We've spent the better part of 18 months predicting one Donald Trump moment after another will be the straw that breaks the camel's back, the moment where we announce that we've proven ourselves willing to put up with quite a lot but this time he has Gone Too Far. And then the election rolled around and we proved that we really have no values, ethics, or standards for behavior as a society that we're not willing to waive when the prospect of a tax cut and cracking down on scary brown people is on offer. Right-wingers have always been good at the hypocrisy of preaching civility and Family Values for everyone but themselves, but it's not far-fetched to describe 2016 as having taken it to a new level.
So when the Russian hacking stuff came out after the election – which, to be clear, I don't believe told us anything that anyone paying attention could not have concluded with confidence prior to the election – I was embarrassed to find myself thinking yet again, "Well this time he's gone too far." Cut me a little bit of slack, though. If there's one thing that old white people, and old white conservatives in particular, could not conceivably go soft on it would be The Russians. We are a nation of people literally raised to hate, fear, and mistrust The Russians even when there is no logical reason to do so and even (or especially) when we don't quite understand why. They are the bad guys, period. They always have been and they always will be. Even abandoning communism didn't change the dynamic. America Good, Russia Bad.
Except, of course, when they actively attempt to screw Hillary Clinton. Then they're our pals, or at the very least they are inept and harmless.
The closest thing to a silver lining from this year is the way we will emerge from it with a much clearer understanding of American conservatism in its current incarnation; at its core, it really is just authoritarianism. They can try to decorate it with bows and ribbons and puerile rhetoric about God and Guns and Freedom, but this man-crush on Putin gives the lie to all of it. The closest thing to a legitimate use of "freedom" by anyone willing to cozy up with that guy is a selfish, authoritarian one. We love freedom in the sense that everyone should be free to do as they please as long as they do exactly as I do.
When you're willing to excuse away a foreign country trying to fuck with our presidential election what you're really saying is that you've gone so far in on this hand that you don't see any reason to stop now even when logic and judgment dictate that you should. This is like a gambler down to his last $20 pouring it into a slot machine and figuring that having $0 to your name and $20 to your name are, if not economically or rationally identical, functionally so.