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Hullabaloo


Wednesday, May 03, 2017

 
The right's new love affair with Russia

by digby



Back during the campaign, I wrote about the right's love affair with the he-man Vladimir Putin. I thought it was a strongman personality thing. Turns out it was something bigger than that.

They relate on the issue of guns, God and gays:
Growing up in the 1980s, Brian Brown was taught to think of the communist Soviet Union as a dark and evil place.

But Brown, a leading opponent of same-sex marriage, said that in the past few years he has started meeting Russians at conferences on family issues and finding many kindred spirits.

Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage, has visited Moscow four times in four years, including a 2013 trip during which he testified before the Duma as Russia adopted a series of anti-gay laws.

“What I realized was that there was a great change happening in the former Soviet Union,” he said. “There was a real push to re-instill Christian values in the public square.”

A significant shift has been underway in recent years across the Republican right.

On issues including gun rights, terrorism and same-sex marriage, many leading advocates on the right who grew frustrated with their country’s leftward tilt under President Barack Obama have forged ties with well-connected Russians and come to see that country’s authoritarian leader, Vladimir Putin, as a potential ally.

The attitude adjustment among many conservative activists helps explain one of the most curious aspects of the 2016 presidential race: a softening among many conservatives of their historically hard-line views of Russia. To the alarm of some in the GOP’s national security establishment, support in the party base for then-candidate Donald Trump did not wane even after he rejected the tough tone of 2012 nominee Mitt Romney, who called Russia America’s No. 1 foe, and repeatedly praised Putin.

The burgeoning alliance between Russians and U.S. conservatives was apparent in several events in late 2015, as the Republican nomination battle intensified.

You came through for me, and I am going to come through for you," Trump said to cheers. (The Washington Post)
Top officials from the National Rifle Association, whose annual meeting Friday featured an address by Trump for the third time in three years, traveled to Moscow to visit a Russian gun manufacturer and meet government officials.

About the same time in December 2015, evangelist Franklin Graham met privately with Putin for 45 minutes, securing from the Russian president an offer to help with an upcoming conference on the persecution of Christians. Graham was impressed, telling The Washington Post that Putin “answers questions very directly and doesn’t dodge them like a lot of our politicians do.”

The growing dialogue between Russians and U.S. conservatives came at the same time experts say the Russian government stepped up efforts to cultivate and influence far-right groups in Europe and on the eve of Russia’s unprecedented intrusion into the U.S. campaign, which intelligence officials have concluded was intended to elect Trump.

Russians and Americans involved in developing new ties say they are not part of a Kremlin effort to influence U.S. politics. “We know nothing about that,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said. Brown said activists in both countries are simply “uniting together under the values we share.”

It is not clear what effect closer ties will have on relations between the two countries, which have gotten frostier with the opening of congressional and FBI investigations into Russia’s intrusion into the election and rising tensions over the civil war in Syria.

But the apparent increase in contacts in recent years, as well as the participation of officials from the Russian government and the influential Russian Orthodox church, leads some analysts to conclude that the Russian government probably promoted the efforts in an attempt to expand Putin’s power.

Falwell declared Trump a "dream president for evangelicals."

There's more at the link. It's interesting because it tracks with the rightward lurch around the world, although the "alt-right" here in the US and Europe is a pretty decadent movement. These folks are hardcore conservative in the more traditional way.

It explains why some members of the right wing are so complacent about a foreign government infiltrating the presidential campaign. They see them as allies in a transnational movement. But it will be very interesting to see how they react if there is a conflict with Russia --- the nationalism Trump ran on explicitly would run straight into conflict with any sense of solidarity with Russian conservatives.

It's quite a turn of events, I'll say that. It certainly signals the end of the Reagan epoch on the right. I wonder if Trump will supplant him as the right's true north?

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