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Talk about strange bedfellows: the Tea Party’s love affair with Russia

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The funniest thing I’ve ever seen in a lifetime of watching politics is far-right Republicans telling us how much they love Russia. In May, for example, pro-Trump white supremacists (their description, not mine) marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, chanting “Russia is our friend” and “blood and soil,” a slogan the Nazis used during Hitler’s time. Even as recently as a year ago, I suspect if you’d asked any of the white dudes in that parade what he thought about Russia, he would have muttered something about “godless commies.” After all, Russia is the home of communism, and ever since the end of World War II, when the Cold War started, the Republican Party has specialized in demonizing it (and the former Soviet Union). After all, who invented the term “evil empire” anyhow?

Remnants of the GOP’s 70-year anti-communist crusade exist to this day, a generation after the fall of the Soviet Union: tea party Republicans, bought and paid for by dark corporate money, still rile up the base by accusing Democrats of preaching “socialism” (as the extraordinarily virulent Rep. Dana Rohrabacher routinely does). Over in the other house, the demented Sen. Ted Cruz can still rant that Obama is a disaster because he’s an unmitigated socialist [and] what he believes is profoundly dangerous.”

But a strange thing happened to Republican hatred of all-things Russia and socialism, with the election of Donald J. Trump. Suddenly, Republicans discovered a new and most unlikely hero in the form of Vladimir Putin. As the Washington Post reported, For decades, anti-communism united conservatives behind the Republican Party,” but now, with Donald Trump “lavishing praise on…Putin…GOP attitudes toward Russia began improving dramatically [and] a growing number of American conservatives are receptive to Trump’s Russian rapprochement.”

Weird. It’s like Black people joining the KKK. I’ve commented a few times on Breitbart, asking them how all those tea party conservatives can possibly “love Russia” after spending a lifetime hating it. They never reply to my question; instead, they call me “snowflake” or “libtard” or some similar insult, or they change the topic to nonsense about the Clinton Foundation, or Chelsea, or, of course, their idée fixe, Hillary’s emails.

Well, so much for ideology; on the far right, it seems, power counts for more than political consistency. The way I see it, the white supremacists in the Republican Party like authoritarianism, caucasianism, conservative Christianity and a corporate state. So too do the white supremacists in Russia (except, maybe, for the Christianity). The link between them is, of course, Donald J. Trump, who aspires to be a Putin-esque strongman (although I doubt he’ll get the chance). As the New School for Social Research reports, The rise of white nationalism in the Republican Party…has also been producing a Republican reevaluation of American relations with Russia. The Alt-Right has led the way on this front…”. History buffs will recognize the natural affinity that an authoritarian Russia has long had with Western fascist groupings. After all, Hitler and Stalin signed the Non-Aggression Pact, with both sides conveniently forgetting their former antipathy because they stood to gain more by being friends than enemies.

What do the alt.right and Donald Trump have to gain with their new bromance with Putin and Russia? To simply say “white supremacy” is not helpful, although racism clearly is an underlying motive among Aryan Russians and Americans. The alt.right knows perfectly well they’re not going to do away with American multi-culturalism; they can read the demographic trends that show the U.S. well on the way to being a minority-white country. (California already is a minority-white state.) I think this buddying up to Russia just allows the alt.right to swagger, Storm Trooper-style, and glory in the reflected light of their new leader, Donald Trump. Like little kids playing soldier, they invent a make-believe world, and then pretend to live in it. The danger is that, when enough people believe in a pretend world, we can reach a tipping point where societal instability can crack the old, real world, replacing it with—what? We don’t yet know, but history suggests that such cracking leads to mayhem, destruction and the death of many people. Which, IMHO, makes impeaching Trump more important than ever.

  1. Republicans, 2013-15: “Mitt Romney was right when he said in the 2012 debates that Russia was the greatest threat to American security, and Obama’s dismissal of that answer is evidence of his unfitness to lead.” (BTW, I kind of agree with the first half of this.)

    Republicans, 2016: “Would it be so bad to be a little friendlier with the Russians?”

    Republicans, 2017: “So the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians to manipulate a U.S. election, what’s the problem?”

  2. Jim B, it is amazing, isn’t it, how these republicans can pull a 180 and not even feel guilty about it. As I wrote, this just proves they care nothing about ideology or political philosophy–only power, to impose their rightwing views on everybody else.

  3. Steve, what I find depressing is just how banal those policy objectives turn out to be for the most part.

    I mean, I can understand how the rabid pro-lifers do it: if I really believed that there was a systematic slaughter of innocent lives taking place, then I guess I would probably be able to rationalize putting up with a lot in order to stop it. (Though it’s questionable whether that’s really what pro-lifers think, but that’s a whole separate discussion.)

    But supporting and enabling and defending and covering up for a disloyal, sleazeball crime family in the White House because you really want to … take away people’s health care to cut taxes on the richest 1%? THAT’s the principle for which you want to sacrifice all other principles? It’s baffling.

  4. I think one of the most self-defeating attitudes that Democrats or liberals or Trump opponents take is “It’s baffling.” We tie ourselves up in knots trying to figure out how they can behave in such dumb ways. But in fact it is NOT “baffling.” The tea party votes the way they do out of under-educated resentment of what government is, and, now, a stubbornness that makes them stick with a course (and a president) they know is going down, but from which they cannot separate. They’re put so much into getting trump. They have so much emotional energy and self-identity invested in him. It would be an act of ego-suicide to now have to reject him. I believe they’ll get there, eventually, but it will take an awful lot. Never forget when trump said he could shoot people in the middle of Fifth Ave. and not lose any voters. So, my 2 cents: Stop trying to figure out republicans. Don’t waste your time. Just work to defeat them.

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