As pervasive as “traitor” accusations were during the Trump presidency, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has elevated this “treason” mania to never-before-seen heights. Everyone and anyone who questions or deviates in any way from the prevailing bipartisan consensus is accused of being a treasonous Russian agent based on the slightest infraction. The two public figures most vilified as traitors in the lead-up to the Russian invasion of Ukraine were former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), now a U.S. Army Reserves Lt. Colonel, and Fox News host Tucker Carlson.
Some give the reason for this the fact that conservatives aren’t happy with the way the course of our country has gone. But I think there’s a simpler explanation for the lack of enthusiasm conservatives–and others like Gabbard–have for the drum beats of war with Russia.
Because of the class stratified nature of our country, most of the burden of fighting the adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan were borne by “red state” people. Such people are not in favor with our elite classes these days, especially if they have the bad taste to be white. Our elites don’t send people to fight, be maimed physically or mentally for life, or die in the military. Those of us who actually live in red states live with the human wreckage that this has caused.
On top of that our Gini coefficient keeps rising, our wealth is concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, inflation ravages our paychecks and the COVID response’s blowback continues. This and other things have demoralized an otherwise patriotic population. Low morale–not a new thing for Russia–has hampered their invasion of Ukraine more than just about anything else. We’re not seeing that level or demoralization here but we’re working on it.
You can’t hate half a country and then expect them to jump at every outburst of moral rage you happen to have. You just can’t. If you want people to get on board with your agenda–and I have serious reservations about a lot of this agenda–you have to convince them that a) you have their best interests at heart and b) you know what you’re doing. To put it another way, you need to earn their respect, rather than just expect it as an entitlement.
If we’re serious about calling ourselves a “democracy” rather than an oligarchy which needs periodic affirmation at the polls, we need to have a lot stronger consensus about where we’re going, something that is lacking these days.