Has Putin’s war put conservatives on the back foot or rallied their cause


Courtesy/ Wikimedia

Vladimir Putin was once, and is, admired by many American conservatives

James Lacefield, Opinion Editor

Vladimir Putin, the former KGB official, current leader of militant Russia, and sole heir to the throne of world war instigator, has often been praised among conservatives in America as the leader of the last conservative white power in the world. Ever since the 2016 elections, the right has been far too cozy with Putin for my liking. Even while Russian people are subjugated, oppressed, and misled by state controlled media and elections, the American right admires Putin’s social conservatism, strong leadership, and hawkish behavior when it comes to foreign policy. So, when Putin goes on to invade a fellow Christian nation, one which has long hoped to join NATO, and begins murdering innocent civilians with missile strikes and street by street fire-fights with Ukrainian patriots, where do conservatives fall? Has this war put the right on the back foot, or rallied them to the cause of modern conservatism?

  I will preface this argument by saying I am painting with very broad brush strokes in an attempt to cover a wide spectrum of American conservatives. Naturally there are moderates who will disagree with the radicals of any party, and many mainstream voters caught in the middle of such infighting. There seem to be, however, two camps in the conservative party, naturally divided between those who oppose Putin, and those who support him.

The camp which stands in opposition to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine similarly do not agree entirely on why they should oppose him. Within this group are those traditional, if not old-fashioned, conservatives who still believe anything coming out of Russia is pure evil and villainy (it is the former Soviet Union, you know). On the other hand, there are those conservatives who hold fast to the ideals of the Constitution and democracy, and believe any leader, such as Putin, who would violate such basic rights of citizens in his own or a sovereign country should be opposed. Farther down the line, there are even conservatives who at one time did praise Putin for his social and diplomatic ideology, but now view this unprovoked aggression to be completely unacceptable in modern society. In the broadest sense, I applaud this camp, though I may question their motives.

In the other camp, there are those conservatives who go so far as to support Putin’s invasion of Ukraine and expansion of Russian interests in Europe. They wholeheartedly approve of Putin’s socially and morally conservative views, and praise his ability to control the nation’s domestic and international interests. His nationalistic aura and masculine persona deeply appeal to the brutish, biased, and vigorously entrenched radical right, qualities also personified by the former President Trump. At a time when our own leadership is incredibly frail, there is a certain longing for a nationalistic hawk with a social agenda aligned strongly with your own, and some conservatives have found this in Putin.

I, for one, question the morals of a world leader who is little more than a schoolyard bully with a nuclear arsenal, and further question the sanity of anyone who is willing to support them. This, however, is not about how little I think of Putin, his fan club, and their three communal brain cells. This is an analysis of America’s conservatives, and what it means to actually be a conservative in America post-Ukraine.

Now to answer the question I posed earlier; are conservatives on the retreat or rallying around the, in no particular order, white, blue, and red? The conclusion I have come to could spell doom for the American right, because both options are indeed correct. Some of those in the first camp are reeling from the thorough backstabbing they just received from the Kremlin. After Putin supported President Trump and disseminated socially conservative ideology throughout Russia, he then flipped and invaded a sovereign country for his own gain, a truly low blow to these ex-Putin-lovers. On the other hand, the second camp is ablaze with pan-global conservative nationalism. Finally, they have vindication, and can point to a conservative leader who does not have to pander to the liberals and can actually get stuff done. Just imagine what would be possible with a Putin/Trump alliance! (Did someone say 2024?)

As easy as it would make my job as an opinion writer to have Trump back in office, I highly doubt there will be any major conservative victories in the near future. The infighting among American conservatives can only strengthen the left’s control in D.C., even with their daily fumbles and outright impotence during this global crisis. In short, I fear for the future of the right, but not as much as I fear a right led by biased puppets with Vladimir Putin pulling their strings.