Over the past three decades, the GOP has gone from fighting Russia’s “evil empire” to helping Vladimir Putin rebuild it. Now, it’s time for America to relegate Putin and his goals to the scrap heap of history.
Putin’s strategy was to weaken NATO, divide Americans and destroy our faith in democracy. Former President Donald Trump, supported by his GOP allies in Congress and the far-right media, obliged his Russian counterpart by ridiculing NATO, stoking fear and distrust among Americans and trying to overthrow a democratic election.
Trump’s duplicitous support of Putin and his aggressive stance toward Ukraine has its roots in the 2016 presidential campaign, when Trump excused Putin’s first invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea. As president, Trump dropped a promise from the 2016 GOP platform to arm Ukraine against Russia. When Putin blamed Ukraine for interfering in the 2016 election, Trump repeated the false charges. In 2019, while Ukrainian soldiers were fighting Russian forces, Trump froze $391 million in military aid to coerce Ukraine into manufacturing dirt on Joe Biden and his family.
Before Putin’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Bill O’Reilly asked Trump, “Is Putin ready to start a war?” Trump replied, “I think he has a great way; he’s tough and smart and funny.” After Putin hurled his tanks and missiles at peaceful Ukrainians, Trump called it “wonderful,” and “pretty savvy,” adding “This is genius!”
The Biden plan
With President Joe Biden, Putin no longer has an ally in the White House. We are grateful for that. Not since World War II has it been so vital for the U.S. and its democratic allies to stop totalitarian aggression in its tracks. But even now, the GOP’s complicity with Trump haunts our efforts to form a united front to take on Putin and his war against Ukraine.
In contrast to Trump’s bombastic and self-serving approach, Joe Biden is rapidly rebuilding NATO. He has restored NATO’s traditional role as a force to contain Russia. When Putin gambled that Trump had so weakened NATO he could invade Ukraine with impunity, Biden’s efforts proved it was an epic miscalculation.
President Biden’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. The Wall Street Journal reports “The Biden Administration is getting high marks in Europe for its strong stand” against Putin. Condoleezza Rice, George W. Bush’s Secretary of State, said, “He’s managed to unite NATO in ways I didn’t think I would ever see again.”
What we must do
President Biden has a growing number of allies in the U.S., Europe and around the world who have condemned the war in Ukraine and are prepared to make sacrifices to isolate Russia and force a retreat. But there’s more to be done; here are what individual citizens can do to help repel Putin and his war against democracy:
Using this website, you can counter the nation’s ubiquitous propaganda machine and let everyday Russians know about the horror and grief their leader is causing.
More than 3.4 million refugees have fled the Ukraine because of Putin’s aggression. We must also be prepared to accept sacrifices in our own lives to support these innocent victims of war, as well as democracy and freedom against authoritarian leaders like Putin.
Here at home, we must defend democracy by rejecting politicians who have disgraced America. This means defeating Congressman David Rouzer and 146 other Republicans who voted to overturn a free and fair election and minimized the violent Jan. 6 insurrection that ended our tradition of a peaceful transition of power.
We must also reject politicians who support voter suppression laws and draw gerrymandered maps that divide Americans into those who matter and those who don’t. Putin’s divisive propaganda and Republican voter suppression laws serve the same purpose. They stoke fear of the “other” to magnify what divides us, and blind us to how much more we have in common.
We need to make a choice. We can follow Trump’s lead by helping Putin divide us, destroy our faith in democracy and put an end to the great American experiment. Or we can defend democracy by electing public servants who unite us, tell us the truth, respect the will of the people and champion voting rights for all Americans.
The Brunswick County Democratic Party chooses democracy. Glory to Ukraine!