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Fascists of the World, Unite

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President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin talk during the family photo session at the APEC Summit in Danang, Vietnam, on Saturday.

In 1941, Lend-Lease passed the Senate on a vote of 60-31 and the House on a vote of 260-165. It’s 2022 descendant, the “Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022” passed the Senate unanimously and the House on a vote of 417-10, with roughly ninety-five percent of House Republicans supporting the legislation.

So what is Tucker Carlson – the American spokesmen for the fascist international – telling his audience about U.S. support for democratic Ukraine against authoritarian Russia?

Tucker Carlson said Monday that U.S. aid to help Ukraine defend against Russia’s barbaric invasion is revenge for Hillary Clinton’s defeat in the 2016 presidential election.

“We don’t arm Ukraine so we can help the Ukrainians. They are merely unfortunate pawns in all of this,” the Fox News host claimed on his prime-time show. “We arm Ukraine so that we can punish Russia. Why? For stealing Hillary Clinton’s coronation.”

…. The right-wing host also insisted the U.S. doesn’t aim to save lives or protect Ukraine, but merely wants to generate regime change in Russia as “payback for the 2016 election.”

It’s an absurd, pathetically bad argument. But Carlson is the single most influential conservative television personality in the United States. It matters that he pushes a narrative in which Republican voters and Vladimir Putin are natural allies against the true enemy: Democrats.

As Alex Cooley and I wrote after Russia invaded Ukraine:

Paradoxically, the invasion of Ukraine could show that the gravest dangers to the liberal order remain within liberal democratic countries themselves. Nowhere is the danger greater than in the United States. Efforts to defend and reform the liberal order will continue to be in jeopardy as long as antidemocratic factions are allowed to permeate the Republican party. During the Trump era, these factions not only supported American-style Putinism—an approach that included openly transgressing institutional safeguards and demonizing the independent media—but also Putin himself.

Trump’s first impeachment illustrates the danger. Faced with overwhelming evidence that the president had attempted to extort the Ukrainian government over the transfer of U.S. defensive weapons, the GOP closed ranks to oppose impeachment in the House and acquit him in the Senate. In the process, it smeared career foreign policy officials and amplified Russian messaging against Ukraine. Even more worrisome, Trump himself told advisers that he planned to withdraw the United States from NATO during a second term.

With the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the center-right of the Republican party has its strongest opportunity in years to repudiate these tendencies. Perhaps Putin’s war to snuff out a fledgling democracy will cause the GOP to rediscover the value of liberal democracy. Maybe it will make some members of the party reconsider their own campaign to dismantle democratic institutions in the United States, efforts which are most advanced at the state level.

And when we say “maybe” we mean “and I’d like a pony for Christmas, too.”

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