‘Cult followers’ of Trump embrace Putinism as ‘Red Square Republicans’ fall in line: conservative
President of the United States Donald Trump speaking at the 2018 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. Photo by Gage Skidmore.

Republicans are becoming increasingly pro-Putin under a disguise of isolationism, conservative Max Boot wrote for The Washington Post on Tuesday.

"A Pew Research Center poll found that 75 percent of Americans support strict economic sanctions on Russia and 71 percent support sending weapons to Ukraine," he wrote. "That brings us to the bad news: Isolationism — or is it Putinism? — remains disturbingly resilient within Republican ranks. In the Pew poll, more than twice as many Republicans as Democrats said that the United States is providing too much aid to Ukraine."

Boot noted that opposition to aiding Ukraine is the position of some of the biggest names in the GOP, even as Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) supports Ukraine.

"Roughly a quarter of House Republicans and a fifth of Senate Republicans share that view," he explained. "Some of the influential voices opposing aid to Ukraine include former president Donald Trump, Fox 'News' host Tucker Carlson, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), Heritage Action for America (the lobbying arm of the Heritage Foundation), and FreedomWorks (the Koch-supported advocacy organization)."

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Boot drew a parallel between a previous era of isolationism in America.

"It’s hard to take the nationalists’ arguments at face value," he wrote. "Many of the original “America Firsters” in 1940 and 1941 were actually pro-Nazi. Likewise, many of today’s MAGA militants are actually pro-Putin. They favor a hard line against leftist dictatorships such as those in Cuba, Venezuela and China, while advocating de facto appeasement of Russia’s right-wing dictatorship."

He noted the group of "Red Square Republicans" who visited Russia on America's Independence Day in 2018, which included Sens. Steve Daines (R-MT), John Hoeven (R-ND), Ron Johnson (R-WI), John Neely Kennedy (R-LA), Jerry Moran (R-KS.), John Thune (R-SD), along with Reps. Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX) and Richard C. Shelby (R-AL).

"The attraction of Putin’s Russia for many on the right is the same as Viktor Orban’s Hungary (site of the recent Conservative Political Action Conference). They consider right-wing autocracies — with regressive policies on immigration, multiculturalism, LGBTQ rights, women’s rights and other culture war issues — as models for the United States to emulate," he explained. "Beyond shared beliefs, the MAGA affinity for Putinism is rooted in sordid self-interest: The Kremlin helped Trump win office in 2016 and is likely to aid him again if he runs in 2024. The GOP has become a cult of personality, and the cult leader not only admires Putin but enjoys a mutually beneficial relationship with him. So the cult followers fall into line."

Read the full analysis.

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