Long ago, in a galaxy far, far away -- and yes, that is a far-more appropriate description that you'd think because we are entering science fiction and fantasy land -- Republicans hated Russia. Hated it with such a virulent passion that "Better dead than Red" was the mantra that members of the Republican Party went to bed repeating along with their nightly prayers to God. Hated it so much that they were willing the tear apart the country with witchhunts, loyalty oaths and blacklsts, and gave aid and comfort, along with support to Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-WI) and the House Committee on Un-American Activities, as they went after Democrats, liberals and Communists and did their best to tie them all together.
If you hinted in your actions at having liberal thoughts you were branded a Pinko. If you spoke your thoughts out loud, you risked being painted a Fellow Traveler. A Commie. A Red. You could be blacklisted, have your life torn apart and ruined. A book was kept -- a literal book -- with the names of those merely suspected of being Bolsheviks, traitors to America, called Red Channels. Richard Nixon became known as a notorious "Red-baiter," winning his first race for the United States Senate in part by sending out mailers that attacked his opponent, the sitting-senator of California, Helen Gahagan Douglas (D-CA) for her "suspect liberal ways" that drilled its point home by being printed on pink paper.
Republicans hated Russia. Hated, hated it. Godless, atheistic, soulless Russia,
It's continued through the decades, up to our present years. Any liberal thought, liberal ideas, liberal actions risked still being branded as Socialism, a threat to America. Or Communistic, or Marxist. Anything said in support of Russia risked, still risked getting you hated, mistrusted, disregarded as a Commie Lover.
Just two years ago, a poll from the Economist/YouGov showed that Republicans still hated Russia viscerally. By a massive difference of minus -66 points, Republicans showed an overwhelming disapproval of Russian leader Vladmir Putin of tsunami proportions.
Today, that same Economist/You Gov poll shows a difference of minus -10 points.
By the way, to provide a sense of perspective and sanity, albeit a bizarre one given history, Democrats still have a minus -62 points disapproval of Mr. Putin. But a full 37% of Republicans today not support Vladimir Putin, while only a mere -47% don't. That's a 10-point difference.
The Republican Party has officially gone insane.
As I wrote the other day here, a PPP study showed that 39% of Trump voters think the stock market went down under Obama...when it actually skyrocketed up 12,000 points. Further, 67% of Trump voters think the unemployment rate went up during the Obama Administration, while the actual reality is that it was cut by almost half, tumbling from 7.8% when President Obama first took office down to 4.6% today. Moreover, 40% of Trump voters think that he won the popular vote, despite actually losing it by 2.8 million currently and counting.
And now add to all that, an almost-equal number of Republicans today actually support Vladmir Putin, the president of Russia, a former high-ranking Lieutenant Colonel in the KGB, as opposed to disapprove, believing apparently that Russia has America's best interest in its heart -- a vital organ to the body and life that up to the last year most Republicans would probably have told you Commies didn't have.
As I wrote the other day, willful ignorance is no virtue.
Convincing yourself to believe a false reality simply because you don't like the alternative does not make that reality different. It only makes you a blind fool as you try to stumble unseeing through actual life that will keep pounding you defenseless every step of the way. And risk dragging down others you grab on your descent into hell.
Perhaps the most bizarre thing about all this (which as you can imagine is no small thing) is that one of Donald Trump's mentors, as I wrote here seven months ago, was Roy Cohn -- the later-disbarred lawyer who was Joe McCarthy's right-hand man in the McCarthyism Communist witchhunts against liberals, If there is one good thing about all this, it's that Roy Cohn is spinning in his grave. Joe McCarthy, too. And every Republican member of HUAC.
Happily, it is not the world that has turned upside-down. The Republican Party has.
Republicans are doing this to themselves. Let us hope -- and may people put forth the effort to ensure -- that the collateral damage can be kept to a minimum.
Willful ignorance is no virtue.
Keep repeating it. You're probably going to need it handy for a while.
Happily, though, one thing now makes sense. At least we finally have a good reason that explains why states that support the Republican Party are known as Red...
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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