There’s no doubt that the topic of Republican hypocrisy is inexhaustible. It just so happens that the same Republicans who stayed silent while then-President Donald Trump sang the praises of the autocrat Vladimir Putin, now want to make themselves out to be the defenders of democracy following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. What’s more, they are now attacking President Joe Biden for not taking more drastic measures against Putin and Russia.
“Russia, if you are listening,” said then presidential candidate Trump in 2016 in a joking tone, suggesting that a foreign power hack into the emails of his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. And, he added, “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press,” in an invitation to violate the democratic process, turning it into a dangerous matter of national security. However, the uncommon GOP silence to Trump’s trampling on U.S. political sovereignty was deafening. In fact, those same Republicans encouraged the idea, acting more like traitors than patriots.
Now, House Republican Minority Leader and Trump ally, Kevin McCarthy, declared that “Putin must be held accountable for his actions.” But when the former KGB leader and his government stuck their noses in the United States elections in Trump’s favor, he argued that it was a Democratic “witch hunt” against Trump.
The former president also condemned the invasion, but as always happens when talking about Putin, called him “smart” and “genius” rather than attacking him.
Indeed, psychologically speaking, a subject like Trump cannot avoid the admiration he feels towards autocrats he wants to imitate, regardless of their ideology, because what animates the owner of Mar-A-Lago is not only power, but showing that he has it and can exercise it for his own personal ends, rather than the nation’s. Kim Jon-un, supreme leader of North Korea, is his other self.
Republican Hypocrisy at its best
In fact, these same Republicans have taken the long view when it comes to the attacks, by Trump and his followers, on our democracy: minimizing the January 6, 2021 assault on the Capitol by a mob both agitated and egged on by Trump, which wanted to prevent the certification of a democratically-held election that went in Biden’s favor.
Now they talk about defending democracy, but when it comes to an attack right here, whether through foreign intervention from Russia or the actions of some rioters who call the 2020 election “fraudulent” simply because their candidate lost, they then justify the unjustifiable.
They are fooling no one more than themselves, of course. But with this double talk they are already used to and comfortable with, conveniently, they continue to do damage to the domestic democracy, despite the fact that they now lament the infamy that this 21st century armed conflict brings, especially when the immediate consequence is a wave of refugees urgently looking for a place to live.
In the current conflict, of course, it’s likely we will see other types of hypocrisy.
For example, and with total justification, the calls for the United States to designate Temporary Protected Status (TPS) and Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) to people from Ukraine who live in this country have increased. It is estimated that some 28,000 Ukrainians could benefit from TPS.
With a nation invaded by Russia for no reason other than Putin’s thirst to recreate the Soviet Union, it’s more than clear that Ukrainians deserve this immigration relief and, eventually, asylum.
Hopefully they will receive this protection. A majority of Ukrainian refugees, almost 370,000 as of this past Sunday, have sought safety in neighboring countries, and the United States is offering technical assistance in Europe.
New champions of democracy
However, some of these Republicans—new “champions” of justice and democracy—don’t see refugees from countries in the Western Hemisphere, particularly Haiti, or African nations, in the same way.
And that is where hypocrisy flourishes, yet again: those Republicans would do everything in their power to seem like the humanitarian protectors the planet needs today, when in the recent past they have done everything in their power to ensure that immigrants from communities of color are not welcomed but rather, the contrary. They want sufficient obstacles to be put in place to dissuade them from coming to the United States, despite the fact that decades of violence in their countries is the most latent threat to their lives and the lives of their families.
No one knows by an exact science how this unnecessary armed conflict, initiated by an autocrat with imperialistic aspirations, will end. But what is known is that right now, the human displacement that every military action creates must be attended to, urgently.