Wyatt Earp: What makes a man like Ringo, Doc? What makes him do the things he does?
Doc Holliday: A man like Ringo has got a great big hole, right in the middle of himself. And he can never kill enough, or steal enough, or inflict enough pain to ever fill it.
- What does he want?
- Revenge.
- For what?
- Bein' born.

— Tombstone

As voters head to the polls next Tuesday, it’s clear that two men who are not on the ballot — Russia’s President for Life Vladimir Putin and defeated ex-president Donald Trump — have become key figures in races across America.

Their direct influence here in Michigan and across America threatens our electoral system. Their shared goal is to put in power state and national candidates who want to turn America upside down. If successful, they could subvert elections in a way that could turn losers like Trump into winners.

It is impossible to go to a grocery store or a gas station without feeling the impact of Putin’s unprovoked scorched-earth attack on the democratically elected government of Ukraine.

Similarly, Trump’s endorsement is at the heart of the Tudor Dixon-led GOP team. According to Bob LeBrant, former senior vice president and general counsel at the Michigan Chamber of Commerce:

Lt. Governor nominee Shane Hernandez is the only person on the Republican ticket who can demonstrate any qualification for holding statewide office. His running mates — Dixon; attorney general nominee Matt DePerno, under criminal investigation for voting machine tampering; and secretary of state nominee Kristina Karamo, a featured QAnon conference speaker — can point only to their allegiance to Trump and his debunked stolen election claims.

This is the most unqualified state-level ticket in recent Michigan history.

Dixon has focused on inflation here without bothering to explain how the same problem continues to plague states led by some of her heroes such as Governors Ron DeSantis in Florida and Greg Abbott in Texas.

Like Georgia, where over $60 million is being spent on the campaign to elect a dishonest Republican hypocrite, Trump’s endorsements are at the heart of the GOP’s Michigan campaign.

Right now, Putin — who enjoys the support of some Republicans, conservative network commentators and social media trolls — is ramping up attacks on Ukraine. This, of course, adds to the inflationary spiral the GOP blames on the Democrats.

None of these apologists are heard from when Putin and his antisemitic teammates send their military off to bury innocent Ukrainian civilians in mass graves, kidnap thousands of children, attack apartments, schools, playgrounds and hospitals while cutting off power, water and humanitarian relief.

Instead of calling out Putin for these war crimes, Trump, who thanked the Russian leader for his 2016 campaign support by holding up military aid to Ukraine, is focused on sabotaging Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

He continues to campaign hard for abortion prohibitionist Tudor Dixon, a former salesperson for a shutdown steel factory in my hometown, Muskegon, a place she tries to avoid mentioning on the campaign trail. You can find out some of the reasons why here.

Tudor Dixon touts work at Michigan Steel. Foundry struggled to pay bills. | Bridge Michigan
The Republican gubernatorial challenger has lauded her leadership at the company while distancing herself from its collapse, after she left. But court records suggest Michigan Steel had serious cash-flow issues during her tenure.

No surprise, she believes Trump won the 2020 election.

Both America and Russia have paid a price for this blizzard of lies from Trump and Putin. Insulated by his own personal 400,000 man National Guard that can quickly arrest, incarcerate, poison or even assassinate those who oppose his will, Putin has cratered the Russian economy in a way likely to do damage lasting for decades.

Economic Impact of Sanctions on Russia - United States Department of State
At this on-the-record, hybrid briefing, Jeffrey Sonnenfeld and Steven Tian, from the Yale Chief Executive Leadership Institute, address the devastating impact that economic sanctions and voluntary business retreats have had on Russia’s economy.

Why, you might ask, is Putin willing to impoverish his own subjects to wipe out a Jewish head of state in a neighboring nation that has done him no harm? Is this simply his revenge on anyone, anywhere, who has dared to question his failed effort to conquer Ukraine?

The same question might be asked of Donald Trump, who continues to take revenge on anyone in his own party who has dared to question the delusion that he won in 2020 when, in fact, he was soundly defeated by 7 million votes.

Both of these men are mortified by anyone who does not bow down to their whims.
Joe Biden’s ability to form a powerful and effective international coalition that has sanctioned Russia into an economic crisis makes him an unique target for Putin’s allies and the apologists who occupy prime-time slots on American network television or operate influential social media sites.

Biden has successfully led a Congressional campaign to pass sensible red flag laws and pay for mental health care aimed at reducing the gun violence epidemic, sold a vast infrastructure plan that his predecessor failed to make happen, expanded Obamacare for millions,  improved health care for veterans, accelerated semiconductor production in America, strengthened the Violence Against Women Act, saved the Postal Service with bipartisan support, won passage of the $1.9 billion American Rescue Plan that will help fight global warming and granted badly needed student loan relief to millions.

Under his leadership, 2021 was the biggest year of job growth in American history while the nation also saw the largest decline in unemployment ever recorded. The Justice Department, under Biden’s Attorney General Merrick Garland, has arrested and convicted an unprecedented number of terrorists,  including a group of kidnappers out to murder Governor Whitmer. All of this is especially important to those of us who live here in Michigan, the birthplace of the modern militia movement.

These events speak to the central question in this midterm campaign here in Michigan and across the country. The desperate attempt to turn the Republican Party into a Trump Party and demolish Democrats reflects the growing frustration of America’s enemies eager to prove that democracy is a failed experiment.
Putin and Trump want revenge because the Democrats have shown conclusively that they can get things done.

On Trump’s last day in office in 2021 the seven-day average of American Covid deaths was 3,108. This week, it was down to 212. That indisputable nonpartisan fact demonstrates that the Democrats have the insight and ability to handle unprecedented healthcare crises well beyond the efforts of the previous Republican administration. Candidate Dixon ignored the pandemic, opposed masking and has fought life-saving vaccine mandates.

The choice in our November 8 election couldn’t be more clear.  The hot air and misleading rhetoric coming from leading Republican candidates is an act of revenge against Democrats working effectively to remedy the damage done by Trump and his electoral ally Putin.

The deep unhappiness of these two men is all part of a dystopian vision best represented by Russia’s unjustified and inhumane attack on Ukraine. As we’ve seen, no one, even a vice president fulfilling his constitutional duty in the electoral process, is safe from their brand of terror.

A man like Putin or Trump has got a great big hole, right in the middle of himself. And he can never steal enough, or inflict enough pain to ever fill it.

Roger Rapoport is at rogerrapoport.com.  Read more of his work at Roger That.