Commentary

Daddy issues: Why Putin is being worshipped by the American right

1 OCTOBER 2019: Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council in Yerevan, Armenia.
1 OCTOBER 2019: Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council in Yerevan, Armenia.Photo: Shutterstock

As Vladimir Putin has assembled nearly 200,000 Russian troops surrounding three sides of Ukraine, and he has already invaded portions of that sovereign nation’s east and southern regions, the twice impeached and disgraced former President of the United States, Donald Trump, continues to heap praise on his alleged friend and fellow narcissistic sociopath in the Kremlin.

Regarding Putin’s actions, Trump was downright giddy with praise.

Related: Steve Bannon defends Russia because “they don’t have the Pride flags”

“I said, ‘This is genius,’” Trump said on a right-wing podcast. “Putin declared a big portion of … Ukraine … as independent. Oh, that’s wonderful. … I said, ‘How smart is that?’ And he’s going to go in and be a peacekeeper….We could use that on our southern border. That’s the strongest peace force I’ve ever seen. There were more army tanks than I’ve ever seen. They’re going to keep the peace all right. Here’s a guy who’s very savvy … I know him very well. Very, very well.”

GOP Senate candidate from Ohio, J.D. Vance said on an episode of Steve Bannon’s “War Room” show, “I gotta be honest with you, I don’t really care what happens to Ukraine one way or another.”

“I do care,” he continued, “about the fact that in my community right now the leading cause of death among 18-45-year-olds is Mexican fentanyl that’s coming across the southern border.”

Missouri Senator Josh Hawley (R) took an isolationist stance regarding Ukraine on Tucker Carlson’s Fox Network broadcast, “And right now, we’ve got to put American security interests first. And that means we’ve got to focus on China, and we’ve got to focus on our own borders. We need to ask our European allies to do more.”

Carlson on his own show considered Putin a member of his home team, saying  “Why shouldn’t I root for Russia? Because I am!

And he dismissed what he considered the hyperbole over Putin’s intention to gobble up more territory stating, “Whatever [Putin’s] many faults, [he] has no intention of invading Western Europe.”

Isn’t that what British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain proposed following Hitler’s takeover of Czechoslovakia?

This is the same Tucker Carlson who goes gaga over the mention of Hungarian dictator Viktor Orban, whom he visited when broadcasting his program from that Eastern European country.

Useful Idiots

Throughout the presidential campaign, and during the transition, Donald Trump, who had virtually no international relations experience other than business, made policy proposals and placed into nomination key officials, some of who had limited credentials for the positions they were to hold.

On Russia, for example, Trump encouraged Russia to cyberattack Hillary Clinton’s email server, and when the CIA offered conclusive evidence of Russia’s hacking into the Democratic National Committee, Trump issued continual denials and challenges to the efficiency and accuracy of U.S. intelligence.

Trump nominated for the most important of all cabinet positions, Secretary of State, a man whose “international” and “diplomatic” background centered on negotiating oil and natural gas extraction and distribution deals with foreign governments, including Russia and many other repressive regimes like Chad, to line the pockets of repressive dictators.

Prior to the U.S. and other western governments imposing economic sanctions on the Russian government over its invasion of eastern Ukraine and annexation of Crimea in 2014, Secretary of State-designate Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobile corporation, negotiated an estimated $500 billion agreement with Putin, and the Russian petroleum industry. Putin presented Tillerson with the highest honor for a civilian in 2013 with the Russian Order of Friendship Award.

Since taking over the reins of power in Russia after the resignation of Boris Yeltsin on December 31, 1999, Putin stands now as the richest person in the world. Both Tillerson and Trump profited enormously in Putin’s favor by eliminating the sanctions.

The term “useful idiots” refers in Russian to a person perceived as a beneficial mouthpiece for policies they do not fully understand, and who are contemptuously exploited by leaders for a goal or cause.

Though often attributed to Lenin, controversy surrounds its actual coinage. It seems very clear, however, that Trump and his conservative acolytes have and most likely will continue to serve as Putin and other demagogues’ useful idiots in the scope of international relations (and domestic issues).

They either know nothing, or they do not fully understand foreign policy issues, and quite possibly they do not want to know. In his refusal to take daily intelligence briefings or delve deeply into these issues, he demonstrated his lack of interest in learning.

Toxic Masculinity

Numerous commentators have written about the character, mental, and personality flaws of both Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. While Putin is vastly smarter and more politically savvy, we cannot, however, understand the motivational factors directing these “leaders’” words and actions without adding into the equation an investigation of the socially constructed, defined, and maintained characteristics of gender and the roles attached to each of its categories.

Even before an infant’s assigned sex is inscribed on the birth certificate, assumptions and social imperatives have already been made regarding that infant’s general life course, assumptions based on a highly sophisticated and complex network of gender-based roles assigned to the sexes. These assumptions reflect specific concepts of gender: social constructs regarding “masculinity” and “femininity.”

These gendered roles maintain the sexist structures of society, and heterosexism reinforces those roles, for example, by casting such epithets as “faggot,” “dyke,” and “homo” at anyone who steps outside their designated gendered roles regardless of their actual sexual identities.

Society flings these symbolic spears at the heart of anyone who violates established (socially constructed) norms of behavior, those which society often considers traitors to their sex.

All people in our society, no matter our assigned sex designation, are saddled with the heavy burden — yes, burden — on the “masculine/feminine” binary. Concepts of masculinity and femininity promote the domination of males over females and reinforce the identification of maleness with power.

Assigned males are encouraged to be independent, competitive, goal-oriented, and unemotional, to value physical and mental courage and toughness. Assigned females, on the other hand, are taught to be nurturing, emotional, sensitive, and expressive, to be caretakers of others while disregarding their own needs.

Society mandates that males must be “in control.” They cannot get too close to their feelings, and if they do, they certainly cannot allow them to show. They must “keep it all together” and “suck it up.” They cannot show vulnerability, awkwardness, or doubts. They must be “on top,” in bed and out.

Within the Male/Masculine conflation, society maintains a rigidly controlled hierarchy:

On top is found the so-called “Alpha Male,” characterized by:

  • the leader(s)
  • inflated confidence,
  • mental and physical toughness,
  • highly competitive with the goal of winning being more important than what is contested,
  • seen as weaknesses: intellectualism, empathy, showing strong emotions except for anger and rage,
  • having a presence (take up the space they inhabit; being seen as physically dominant, virile),
  • strong body language in how they talk, walk (exaggerated swagger), what they look at, where they place their hands, where they position themselves around others in what they consider as the most powerful position to take control: “I alone can do it.”
  • take chances and move out of their comfort zone,
  • surrounded by trophy girlfriends and/or wives who grab their arm, or are placed literally and figuratively by their side, behind, and beneath, and seldom talk,
  • vocal and loud with solid voice,
  • strong intense eye contact and hard firm handshakes,
  • calm under pressure showing no signs of fear or trepidation,
  • knows how to dress,
  • stands out,
  • has no problem saying “no,”
  • persevere and doesn’t give up,
  • projects any apparent weaknesses and shortcomings as the problems of others,
  • blames others for these weaknesses, shortcomings, and losses.
  • does not apologize, back down, or retreat, but “fights back ten times harder,”
  • signs of tenderness or vulnerability only allowed for other team members in the arena of gladiators, when inebriated, and during the heat of sex.

The Beta Male, on the other hand, is seen by the Alphas as:

  • the followers,
  • unremarkable,
  • lacks confidence,
  • avoids risk and confrontation
  • lack physical presence and charisma
  • emotional

Though ultimately unattainable for all males, the deceptive rabbit of masculinity circulates around their track of life on patriarchal wires that project the alluringly tasty rewards of control, security, and independence, but only if they perpetually compete in the race by sprinting after that elusive rabbit.

Some boys and men internalize this socially mandated illusion of masculinity to the extreme, to a self-destructive and toxic hyper-masculinity. As they run and run and run around the course, they invariably stumble hurting themselves and others along the way.

They build and accumulate frustration turning to resentment and then to anger and often rage because they can never truly reach, grasp, and consume the promised patriarchal bait.

For those men and boys who survive, the societal masters dispose of them as dog trainers dispose of the overworked greyhounds. They are stalked, controlled, used, wasted, and ultimately slaughtered.

Girls and women, who also grow up in a patriarchal system of domination, are certainly not immune to internalizing these messages and thereby, they often collude in pressuring males to join and remain in the race.

Compulsory masculinity, when it reaches the level of toxic hyper-masculinity and even beforehand, demands of all boys and men their surrendering of their critical reasoning by never challenging the system, along with losing their individuality, their moral and ethical compasses, their emotions, and their very integrity and humanity for some promise of security, support, and sense of camaraderie and the privileges that automatically accrue to followers of the patriarchal system of domination and control.

Taken to extremes, this often results in violence. On the international scale, it results in wars.

Fortunately, a new generation of assigned males, assigned females, and trans people is challenging the system by revolutionizing the former conceptualization of gender identity and expression. They are shaking up traditionally dichotomous binary notions of male/female, masculine/feminine, and gay/straight.

They are courageously calling into question this social myth of gender normativity, the boxes society places us into as it imposes upon us all our gender scripts. They have opened the boxes for all of us to ultimately obliterate the gender status quo of binary oppositions by demonstrating the visible ways, the options upon an enormous gender continuum, one that does not depend upon sex assigned to us, a sex that is imposed and forced upon us by others.

Their stories and experiences have great potential to bring us into a future — a future in which anyone and everyone on the gender spectrum everywhere will live freely, unencumbered by social taboos and cultural norms of gender. It is a future in which the “feminine” and “masculine” — as well as all the qualities on the continuum in between — can live and prosper in us all.

But how many more people must die as a result of toxic tyrants showing off their bare chests atop enormous beasts and another who changes wives and mistresses faster than he flushes his golden toilet, both whose innumerable lies and insatiable hunger for praise and riches know no bounds?

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