Putin’s Republican Sympathizers

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Putin’s Republican Sympathizers

It’s Wednesday evening as I write this, and the bloody, pointless, and potentially globe-wrecking war in Ukraine has now gone on for a week. In that week, Vladimir Putin has shown the world exactly who he is: a fanatical Russian nationalist, with a mystic vision of a greater Russia, the intellectual justifications for which seem to be on a par with Hitler’s vision of a German Reich with habitat carved out of his unfortunate neighbors’ lands.

Putin has sent thousands of young Russians to slaughter and be slaughtered against a neighboring state that he claims to believe is populated by Russia’s brothers and sisters. To modify an old adage: “With a brother like this, who needs enemies?”

The Russian leader has launched massive missile and artillery attacks against civilian neighborhoods. He has repeatedly threatened with an annihilatory nuclear response by those who oppose him and his methods. He has made his own country a global pariah and ensured that his people will, even in a best-case scenario, live in deprivation for years to come, as Western sanctions gradually corrode the Russian economy.

This is a moment when people of good conscience the world over ought to be rallying to demand peace, to demand an end to the increasingly vicious, and globally destabilizing, actions of the Russian autocrat. It is a moment when, after years of far-right drift, the GOP ought to publicly recommit to the principles of democracy and tolerance that make possible an open society.

Instead, at this moment, Arizona GOP state senator Wendy Rogers chose to speak at the white nationalist America First Political Action Conference in Orlando, Fla., where she announced that she fantasized about hanging her political opponents, so as to “make an example of these traitors,” and told the assembled white nationalists in her audience that they were “patriots.”

Arizona voted for Joe Biden in 2020, and now has two Democratic senators—although one of them, Kyrsten Sinema, is doing a damn good impersonation of a Republican these days—but that doesn’t mean its politics are reliably blue. It still has a GOP-controlled legislature, which has spent much of the past year debating ever more ludicrous and offensive ways to overturn the 2020 presidential election result, and it still has a GOP governor, Doug Ducey, who ran on a right-wing platform. Ducey has unapologetically embraced Rogers, despite her membership in the Oath Keepers, her identification with white nationalists, and her support for political violence.

Days after Rogers’s sickening antics, the Arizona Senate finally got around to censoring her, with most Republicans joining the Democrats in the 24-3 votes. But that’s a far cry from removing her from office or actually kicking her out of the GOP.

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