Fred Weir Responds to The Atlantic’s “The Russification of the Republican Party”

There is something to the idea that American political culture is becoming increasingly Sovietized, writes Weir….

This is becoming quite the meme. Upon reflection, I do think there is something in it. Not this idiotic suggestion that Repubicans have somehow morphed into borscht-swilling, shapka-wearing, Putin-loving Russkies. Indeed, there are hardly any actual Russians like that. But there is something to the idea that American political culture is becoming increasingly Sovietized. Of course it’s two separate camps, not a monolith, and the Democrats are at least as guilty as Republicans.

This article below inadvertently illustrates the obsession with malign foreign influences, like that which pervaded Soviet discourse and remains a bad smell in Russia to this day. Russians scoff at the idea that Putin is able to get his own man elected president of the US when he can’t even fix the governor in Irkutsk. But the author of this piece implies that Putin is somehow pulling the strings, not only of Trump but all Republicans? Another rapidly creeping Soviet trait is the weaponization of politics, turning any disagreement into an existential struggle, opponents into enemies, the way words like “treason” or “Russian asset” have become common coin. And they are not just deployed as simple insults: increasingly they have that “enemy of the people” ring to them. The growing prominence of the intelligence services in political life, and their alumni on cable TV news shows, is another worrisome trend to watch. Also, it looks like big part of the media have become almost Pravda-like, making ideological mission their main priority. I spend some of my down-time perusing shows from Fox News and MSNBC, which an alien from outer space would think were the propaganda organs of two different, mutually-hostile states — but both very Soviet-like.

It’s a pity, because the actual Russia is less and less Soviet-like. Lots of problems, of course, which it is my job to cover. But I find it downright distressing that one of the worst manifestations of Soviet-style political culture going on in Russia today — the expansion of the “foreign agent” laws to include media organizations and individuals who “lobby” for foreign interests — can be plausibly presented in the Duma and the Russian media as merely reactions to similar steps taken in the US against Russians, such as the blacklisting of RT as a “foreign agent,” and the prosecution of Maria Butina. What a world.

The Russification of the Republican Party
GOP lawmakers used to oppose the president’s embrace of Putin and the Kremlin. Not anymore.

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