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:
Wilders understands that culture and demographics are our destiny. We can’t restore our civilization with somebody else’s babies. https://t.co/4nxLipafWO
— Steve King (@SteveKingIA) March 12, 2017
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.