How the American Right Learned to Love Russia

I’m old enough to remember some of the Cold War rhetoric — especially that which sought to make sure that we knew that the Russians were no friend of Democracy.  Even after the wall came down and the Soviet Union ceased to be, Russia always appeared to have major issues with the tension between messy and order that American Democracy operated in.  Putin, of course, really took to the role — the illusion of Democracy while running a very neo-KGB state.  While Americans could do business with Russia, they were never a close ally or role model, and US governments kept a close watch on Russia, since it was clear that American and Russian interests were often miles apart.

So how to explain how the American right have suddenly found a genial partner in Russia?  Especially since it is the American right that has expended the most effort in distrusting the Russian regime — still using it as reason #1 for certain military preparations.  Right Wing Watch (if you aren’t reading them , you should) has published a very interesting piece explaining how the right came to be OK with Russia and Putin.

The Rise of the ‘Traditionalist International’: How the American Right Learned to Love Moscow in the Era of Trump  is a long read, but worth spending the time.  It’s a compelling narrative, which pieces together how white nationalism and Evangelicals found common cause in Russia — that common cause being the restoration of “traditional” societies.  That “traditional” means what you think it means — societies where white people are privileged, where same sex relationships can result in jail time and where the government is the power that enforces all of that.

So for the 45 nationalists and evangelicals, Russia is a model where they can “Get Their Country Back”.  A model that sanctions strong-arming those who are not like them.  Which strikes me as the thread that Bannon found to capture the northern Blue states that put Trump over the top.  In addition to the voter suppression, they found the people who would understand precisely what Make America Great Again means and who would buy every bit of undemocratic action it would take to get there.

I’ve been listening to NPR speak to Trump voters talk about how they assess his performance so far.  These older, white people say almost to a person that “he is doing what he said he would do”  and even though that is clearly not true, certainly the discrimination against Muslims and immigrants is playing to this crowd.  Most of them have no problem with the Russian connections and these people are older than me and have a deeper connection to the old Cold War rhetoric.

Please take some time to read this article.  I’m interested in what you think about the story it spins out.

EDIT to add a key bit of context from Rep. Steve. King’s Twitter feed today:

Got that?  Somebody else’s babies building US civilization is essentially American History.  Yet this fool openly called for a “restoration” of white civilization (whatever that is) without the people of color who have always been a part of this story.

You don't make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas. -- Shirley Chisolm

9 comments on “How the American Right Learned to Love Russia

  1. delacrat

    The reason Trump is president is b/c Clinton was a lousy senator, a lousy Secretary of State, who would likely be a lousy POTUS.
    The American voters were well aware of that and did not need Putin to tell them.

    • I just can’t take you seriously. You are incapable of discussion. You sound like George W. Bush – it’s all good and evil in your world.

    • Prop Joe

      No… The reason Trump is president is because 87,000 people in three out of 50 states were gerrymandered into being the fulcrum that swung the election. And, as an added bonus as to why Trump became president, it’s because voters like yourself are okay with racism, bigotry, ethno-nationalism, and a complete abrogation of American ideals so long as it means white race is elevated above all others…

      But yeah… By all means, keep blaming Clinton’s performance as a Senator or Secretary of State for Trump and not voters or citizens like yourself. If there’s one thing you folks love, it’s “crying foul” about all manner of things but never accepting any responsibility or blame.

      • Minor correction: Gerrymandering has nothing to do with the Trump win in those 3 states. you cannot gerrymander state lines.

        Voter suppression, sure.

      • delacrat

        Prop Joe,

        You can disparage anyone who did not vote Clinton as “okay with racism, bigotry, ethno-blah blah” or Putin, but that does not change her Iraq war votes as Senator, or her catastrophic handling of Libya and Honduras as Sec. of State. Three once functioning and prosperous societies, who now export refugees. How’s that for a “super predator”?

        Could be those “87,000 people in three states” were paying attention and just did not want Clinton to do for them what she did for the people of Iraq, Libya and Honduras.

  2. I don’t get the sudden Russia love either. Basically, Republicans are followers, which explains why they win elections. They will abandon their principals and their stated beliefs for their party – How else to explain Trump? He goes against everything the GOP claims to value.

    Listening to interviews with Trump voters is interesting – even though we’ve given this group far too much attention. The “He is doing what he said he would do” line always has me shaking my head, until I remember that these voters didn’t vote on economic policy. They love seeing father, mother, children being grabbed by ICE. They love the way Trump will only give passing lip service to hate crimes (JJCs bomb threats and cemetery destruction; Mosques being burned, people who “look” Iranian, Syrian, etc. being shot, LGBT centers vandalized). They are absolutely thrilled with Trump’s white supremacy. That’s what they voted for, and that’s what they’re getting – they sure aren’t getting jobs, and they don’t care.

    So if Trump and the GOP says Russia is great, then Republicans fall in line. Then again, this has so much to do with Obama – whose dislike and distrust of Putin was obvious. So… these Republicans were already halfway there when Trump came along – since these voters always liked what Obama was against, and hated what he was for. The “better dead than red” crowd is now saying, “Red looks good on me”.

    And that tweet from Steve King… well, that just says it all. It’s helpful when racists take off their hoods.

    • The thing that this article connects the dots for is how the Russian connections to more extreme elements of the GOP predated Trump. They were looking for a strong man model that would “preserve their civilization” and Putin was it. It is how they understand Trump — preserving their civilization, their whiteness. It doesn’t seem to matter that they have to damage their own democratic country to get this preserved whiteness.

  3. I remember much of the cold war very well, note that “Commie!” was a Republican favorite for 50 years. The group that did not surprise me is the Evangelicals, they yearn to force the rest of us into submission. As for the old “take America back” crowd I know them very well as I grew up with them. Their the ones who did not value education and could give half a damn about the less fortunate, as for waking these people up I leave that to the Republicans. When they have no healthcare, no jobs and none coming they will wake up. As for Steve King he’s lucky he’s surrounded by a small herd of lunatics in the house, contempt for him and double for the fools that keep him in office.

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