When will conservatives stop gushing over Putin so much and start loving American democracy? As it stands, it seems as though most conservatives in American mainstream media are pining for a “leader” like Russia’s Vladimir Putin, the shirtless horseback-riding, photo-op Bond villain who the United States would normally sum up as nothing more than the ex-KGB leader gone limp in the decline of the Russian Empire.
But now, with Ukraine’s volatile tug of war between East and West, commentators have taken to the airwaves to state their case for why the United States should be more like Russia.
Pundits from the U.S. far right, mostly mouthpieces on Fox News, have gushed over Putin’s masculinity, his ability to “lead,” his aggressive Greater Russia foreign policy, the “take no prisoners” hard talk. Such an attitudes, they say, is sorely needed in the United States. Pundits from Bill O’Reilly to Sarah Palin love using the line, “Putin wrestles bears, Obama wears mom jeans,” hoping to perpetuate the image that President Obama is a “sissy” and Putin is a “man.”
There is something to be said of actors in the political arena who act on their own behalf without concern for international law or the rights of those around them, especially when that actor is one of 15 members of the U.N. Security Council. Putin’s actions fly in the face of everything Western democracies have labored to achieve over the past half a century following World War II. Praising Putin’s “act first, think later” attitude is encouraging the type of impulsive and frankly, juvenile behavior one would expect from a Third World leader.
The psuedo-psychomatic appreciation of an authoritative figure like Putin has pigeonholed conservatives into believing that Obama is the weak and light-footed figure in this fight. Contrary to conservative rhetoric, there could be nothing more adult-like in the 21st century than Obama and the Western world seeking dialogue at the table. Meanwhile, conservatives are blindly encouraging the actions of Putin as he sits underneath that table playing with his toy soldiers.
Forget about the irony that America’s party of “limited government” and “fiscal responsibility” are praising a known authoritarian giant, conservatives gushing over Putin and his proclaimed masculinity have inadvertently belittled their own psyche in an attempt to discredit the President of the United States. It is quite jarring to think that the self-proclaimed patriots of the right have come to admire and gloat about the exact antithesis to American democracy, that being Vladimir Putin’s Russia.
But when you look at what America’s right actually does want– limited tax base, the exclusion of gays from marriage and a government which propagates a monolithic Christian society that makes its way into public education and all realms of political life–it now makes sense. Russia is the conservative paradise far-right wingers in America have falsely projected onto the American public as “traditional family values.”
Nothing is less American in this day and age as institutional discrimination against an entire people, the restricted access to freedom of religion and the dismissal of public debate on pressing foreign and domestic policy.
Conservatives should not be praising Putin for his masculine propaganda and dictatorial ways. Instead, conservatives should be denouncing Putin as the epitome of tyranny, a reckless individual with no concern but of his own self-interest in consolidating his power. He is a failed president who does not respond nor care for the needs of his own people while simultaneously jamming down their throats his own political agenda. Instead, conservatives will continue to insert the name of Obama into that description.
So, conservatives, please stop gushing over the antagonist of freedom and reassess understanding of it, because from where Americans are standing, it does not get any more tyrannical than Putin’s idea of a greater Russia.
Opinion by John Amaruso