As I type this newsletter, continued American aid for Ukraine is in grave doubt. Tucker Carlson is in Moscow to conduct a friendly interview with Vladimir Putin. And we’re receiving reports from the front lines that Russia is advancing, in part because of Ukrainian ammunition shortages. In short, the war is reaching a critical stage, and Ukraine may lose because Republicans are willing to hand authoritarian Russia a historic military victory rather than supply further aid to a democratic ally.

Ronald Reagan isn’t just rolling over in his grave; he may also lurch from it in a fit of incredulous rage. This is a remarkable and potentially catastrophic reversal by a political party that is in a state of near-total, frequently random ideological transformation.

To explain the intensity of Republican resistance to Ukraine aid, I need to return to a concept I wrote about in November: that of bespoke realities. My friend Renée DiResta, the technical research manager at the Stanford Internet Observatory, coined the term, and she wrote that it refers to the “bubble realities” constructed by communities “that operate with their own norms, media, trusted authorities and frameworks of facts.”

Among those who oppose aid to Ukraine, there are certainly several paleoconservatives who object on classic isolationist grounds: It’s not our fight, our support is costly, we might find ourselves inadvertently embroiled in war, and so on. But the mass Republican movement against Ukraine is rooted far less in policy than it is in a particular bespoke reality of the MAGA universe, in which Ukraine is a pernicious villain, Putin is a flawed hero and Russia should have crushed Ukraine long ago.

MAGA Republicans’ hatred and contempt for Volodymyr Zelensky and the Ukrainian cause is shockingly vehement. Candace Owens says she wants to “punch” Zelensky. Donald Trump Jr. calls him an “international welfare queen.” Carlson says he dresses “like the manager of a strip club.” It’s all bizarre and unreasonable. And it all fits the broader MAGA narrative.

Non-paywall link

  • @zaphod
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    2 months ago

    Modern Republicans are like George on Seinfeld when he decides to do the opposite.

    Everything they do, everything they believe, is purely in opposition to the Democrats (and the establishment consensus more broadly).

    It’s pure, kneejerk obstructionism.

    Everyone else says Putin is bad? Well shit, he must be good.

    Everyone else says Ukraine is good? Then they’re evil.

    Folks say Biden won? Nope, he lost.

    Honestly, the left should just start using reverse psychology to get things done. If Biden came out against the trans community, you can bet the next day Trump would do a rally in drag.

    • @[email protected]
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      92 months ago

      You’re seeing a little taste of this now at the southern border - the left happily jumped on board with the right’s plan to fortify, then suddenly it was “wait, no, not this way…” and they killed their own bill.

    • @[email protected]
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      32 months ago

      People always say this about parties that are out of power. All of your examples come down to Trump aligning with the Russians (for…whatever reason…) and Trump fans get on board with that, which leads to being anti-Ukraine funding. And Trump just has the inability to say he lost and people get on board for that.

      There are things like Israel funding which both parties want to pass. Senate Republicans want Ukraine funding still. There was a bipartisan law passed on infrastructure, and a bipartisan law on gun control / mental health services.

      Obviously in a two party system, the parties have opposing views on a lot of things, but that doesn’t mean it’s knee-jerk opposition to everything.

      • @zaphod
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        2 months ago

        I’d buy that argument if the house Republicans could actually come together and do, you know, anything with their (thin) majority. But they can’t because they’re now simply the party of “no”.

        And the root causes are obvious: the house GOP is the least experienced caucus in history with more freshman than ever. Those folks were voted in on a platform of obstruction and reactionary objection, not constructive policy positions.

        And so now, with their hands on the tiller, they have no coherent platform or strategy.

        You can see this in the recent border debacle where it was more important to deny Biden even the hint of a win than to pass any kind of legislation, even when it’s policies they ostensibly support. That’s the politics of obstruction at work.

        Back when the Tea Party was the minority voice, that was fine. They could throw bombs from the back row and things would still get done.

        Now that those folks are in charge, they’re directionless.