I first experienced political paranoia in the 1960’s and 70’s when the FBI really was watching us. This era marked widespread infiltration of organizations and surveillance of individuals dubbed radical and that included Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the NAACP!  ( ) And even you, if your government thought you or your friends were “dangerous  radicals.”  These government infiltrators did a lot of harm and over the long term, their existence gave credence to an inherent American paranoia.(

These early infiltrators, however, were impossibly sloppy.  My brother, at the time, was a member of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and as well as an active member of the Brooklyn Chapter of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) which sometimes met in my parent’s apartment.  My parents were not co-conspirators. They assumed their athletic son’s meetings were with the basketball team. My best friend was in Red Stockings a feminist organization and was once briefly arrested for stamping “Fuck War, Not Men” on subway advertisements. I was, at the time, active in the Women’s Movement.

My phone was tapped, my brother’s phone was tapped and even my parents’ phone was tapped. The reason I can say this is because often our U.S. surveillance team left the tap open and there were suddenly four people on the phone at the same time. Once they connected their tap to the Staten Island train’s sound system and broadcasted some of my brother’s personal phone calls over their loudspeakers. In short, a lot of the time the technology and/or the agents involved in this surveillance were not as together as we feared. Time passed and young radicals were no longer the focus of our national political angst; all that was left were some important societal changes and a lingering trail of paranoia.

As I have been an activist on many political issues, I met many other activists and eventually my theater work brought me into contact with a large supposedly left-wing cult with nationwide political ties.  I also discovered that some of the activists I met were more interested in gaining power for themselves or their organizations than advancing the issues they espoused. Time passed and I went on my way paranoia-free.

I did a little college teaching in New York City in the late 90s and at one English Department meeting the political activists in that group decided to call themselves “progressives.” I objected, didn’t they know their history? The “Progressives” were part of America’s past. In the 19th and early 20th century, many of these “Progressives” came from the more refined middle and upper classes who desired to educate and inspire those “below them.” Many of these “Progressives “were also racists and believed that preventing the lower sort from procreating would eliminate the world’s ills. That idea was embraced by Hitler and his crowd. And, yes, they also made some inroads in fighting monopolies, founding settlement houses and birth control clinics. However, I could not see how going backward in history could be going forward.

Soon these “Progressives” began multiplying. At the start, they seemed to embrace many  “Liberal” ideas but with a twist.  The twist made me uncomfortable. Often their voices seemed reactionary and too often divisive. Then, there was the issue of their new heroes.

These so-called Progressive leaders heartily championed the men who had leaked US government secrets. But what did they actually leak? Compared with, say, the Pentagon Papers, these revelations seemed weak and some even seemed to undermine our own government rather than any particular villain or villains. One such example was making public our secret dealings and conversations with and about world leaders. Surely, that could have a negative effect on American foreign relations. (

When I more closely examined the background of these “heroic” internet hackers I found one of them was hiding from his trial for rape and avoiding extradition. ( Another had made his new home in Russia. For me, that raised questions.  What was that Russian connection? Why was he there? And who was supporting them in hiding? I know the reasons offered, and now we all know a little more about that Russian connection. I wondered at the time why progressives were idealizing those men and to what ends? At first, I believed this political idealization represented the blindness of people who thought revealing secret government files, whatever the consequences, was always a good thing.

 It was, also, puzzling that many vocal progressives showed tremendous hostility to U.S. International trade agreements.  They insisted these deals just shouldn’t happen.  Now, didn’t these intelligent people know we were in a global economy?  I imagined the left should be pointing out the problems within the agreements, not simply eschewing international cooperation. ( Who would have guessed some decades later Trump, in the name of the extreme right, would also rail against international agreements? Still, at the time, paranoia was yet to click in. Like many people growing up in the middle of the last century, my understanding of our new dangers was not yet globalized.

I was familiar with the right wings’ often anti-Semitic paranoia about a menacing “world order” but it had always been the Liberal left that reached out towards more international cooperation than the more nationalistic right. If you replace the evil all –present- Jewish conspiracy with an evil all present corporate conspiracy you suddenly have a meeting of the so-called left and so-called extreme right. For me, it just didn’t make sense. We are in a global economy, run at this moment by international corporations, didn’t our leaders have to connect with them, talk to them, try to influence them? Yet any political leader who even spoke in front of corporations were dismissed as evil.(

Then along came Bernie. Bernie Sanders is a part of my generation. He came from a similar working-class background as myself and shared my type of 20th-century politics; as a child, he even lived in my neighborhood. At the start, I found his campaign interesting. As it moved along, I began to notice the man with solutions spoke less and less about real-time issues and began to ride the one horse pony of money in politics. At the same time, some of my more dubious activist friends began building this old man into a giant, a Messiah, to save us, never explaining how he could do all the wonderful things he promised. His record as Senator was far from impressive.

Then the primaries were upon us and I began to see Sander’s  (now a Democrat) attacking Clinton in the same way the Republican’s did. Instead of talking about issues, he used emotional buzz words (Wall Street, Warmonger, Corporations etc.). He lost my vote but it was still strange. A man with ideas running on the Democratic ticket, striking out at Democrats and Clinton instead of selling his plans, his ideas, his strategy. Even as the election came around, he saved his rhetoric for attacks against the Democrats. What was he doing? ( I added it up to ego and self-interest.

And then the Mueller investigation.  Suddenly Russia and Putin were center stage, Putin, who made his way up the ladder of the notorious KGB to become Russia’s new dictator and head of the oligarchy that now controlled Russia was somehow implicated in supporting an American candidate in an attempt to shape a US presidential election. (


2.  I began exploring links I had never thought about. We all know about Ms. Stein’s  (another  Progressive idol)  connections and are learning about our heroic hackers connections. So, I looked up Bernie. My search was based on a quote that I heard about how Russian’s lure, entice and trap people into their service, often people who would never expect or want to be caught in their net. Was it possible? Did Bernie Sanders have a Russian connection?

Very little research made it clear that the answer was a resounding “Yes.’ For example, as mayor, he had made Burlington a sister city to the USSR’s Moscow. He spent part of his time as a newlywed there with his wife. Over the years he attended many conferences with Russian involvement. Proof? No. Thought provoking. Yes. And do remember, he was among the very, very few Senators from either party to vote against sanctions for Russia due to their election meddling.

But there is more to think about than Sanders. As I said, earlier in my life in theater I had dealings with an organization that began as believers in an idea; some called them a cult, but they had also moved into politics. As fate would have it, I had a discussion on politics with one of this organization’s members. It was over open political primaries, which, I strongly believe, is very dangerous to American democracy, because it weakens party political. Oh, yes in the progressive’s litany, political parties are evil. This so-called left-wing political organization was working to end political parties. How was it to their advantage? Disunited, money poor, unfocused political parties, would mean political chaos in our presidential system.

I did a little research and found that Russia ala Putin is busy recruiting extreme left and right wing organizations on the edges of society, from Nazis to Progressives. And the aim is to win. What will winning mean? Losses of U.S. power, losses to the U.S. economy and a global society headed by….Russia and Putin. (

I am not often given to speculation or paranoia and that is what this article is about. There is no hard proof. Perhaps Mueller will give us some evidence, but the truth proved through history, is that small focused fanatic organizations can easily beat the majority.  They will march to the polls and give us Trump, and Russia has already nurtured and prepared such organizations for local, state and federal elections here and abroad.

Now for the disclaimer: Not every Progressive is part of this pack but we must be aware. Candidates whose politics line up with our own should not get a blind pass. Today we should look carefully for a Russian connection, or the candidates cult or splinter group ties. Bernie’s progressives are still on the march. For example, one of their present darlings, Tulsi  Gabbard, grew up in her father’s cult  ( She recently made a visit to Syria (Russia’s murderous dictator friend) and returned with the Russian line that Assad is not all that bad.(

Let us not be lured by tempting positions alone or a gung-ho personality or even a nice resume. Let us agree not to walk in lock-step when divisive so-called Progressive Democrats fight with party Democrats to condemn the party for being too “centrist” or “corporate.” Those are buzz words to incline us not to think. And perhaps, more importantly, don’t let the Russians or Republicans divide the opposition to their advantage. A “corporate centrist Democrat” is better than the most benign Republican nowadays….really!  Don’t let anyone lure us into a third party vote except, perhaps, on the local level or if they are also supporting the Democratic Party candidate. And let us stop picking up our toys and not voting because a candidate doesn’t embrace our every idea because that is just what Russia and the Republicans, and I am afraid, some Progressives want.

Edgar Allen Poe wrote, “Believe half of what you see, and none of what you hear.” Be careful. Their sell is brilliant and preys on our prejudices, fears, and displeasures. The public’s interest in political issues is usually surface deep. As a people, we have little historic memory, even if that history happened yesterday.  Quick, what was the name of the person killed by a Nazi during a demonstration a few months ago? Where was the rally? What was it about? See. If you got it, bravo or brava, now ask your friends.

My advice for a better future for us all,  is to listen and look for yourself, watch each candidate's words; are they shaped to inflame or enlighten, to divide or strengthen and who and in what direction? And never let them disunite us. They are out there on the networking to destroy democracy. Let’s unite to stop this.  Being aware is the first step to combating the growing fascism spearheaded by Russia and some Republicans, and certain Progressives.


Carol Polcovar

Carol Polcovar

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