Midterms Will Determine Republicans’ Stance on Ukraine — and America

Charles Keener

Midterms Will Determine Republicans’ Stance on Ukraine — and America

Christian nationalists see Putin’s invasion of Ukraine as a key step in his campaign to crush the global woke left.

THE CENTRAL QUESTION looming over the 2022 midterm elections is whether the Republican Party is morphing into a fascistic organization that wants to end the messy business of elections, voting, and democracy and create a right-wing autocracy instead. Ever since Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election, culminating in the January 6 insurrection and followed by Republican efforts to downplay the coup attempt, it has become increasingly difficult to tell the difference between the Republican mainstream and the party’s extremist fringe.
If the Republicans prevail and gain control of Congress, one of the first tests of their true intentions will come when they must decide whether to support continued U.S. military aid to Ukraine in its defense against this year’s brutal Russian invasion.

In a Republican-controlled Congress, votes on aid to Ukraine are likely to reveal a sharp divide between traditional, hawkish Republicans who oppose the Russian invasion and have supported the Biden administration’s military aid to Ukraine, and the new and growing faction of the Christian evangelical movement known as Christian nationalists, many of whom admire Russian dictator Vladimir Putin and want to cut off American support for Ukraine. Votes on Ukraine will serve as a barometer of whether traditional Republicans still have any influence, and whether they have the will to stand up to the rise of extremism within their ranks.

Christian nationalists represent a frightening dynamic within the Republican Party. They are theocrats who don’t believe in the separation of church and state and who argue that the United States was founded as a “Christian” nation and needs to return to those origins. They despise Western secularist culture; fear white demographic decline; and deeply resent feminism, homosexuality, abortion rights, and even individualism, which they see as a modern concept at odds with a more traditional, hierarchal society.

Christian nationalists now dominate the extreme right of the Republican Party, and they have come to believe that Putin is a warrior for Christian fundamentalism and that his invasion of Ukraine is one step in his campaign to crush the global woke left.

The intra-party fight over aid to Ukraine could be the first battle in a long war for control over the Republican Party’s foreign policy.
Christian nationalists see Putin as the leader in a powerful right-wing counterattack against liberal secularism and as a protector of their Christian faith. Putin has encouraged this support from Christian nationalists in the United States and other Western nations by co-opting the Russian Orthodox Church and waging a culture war inside Russia, notably with anti-gay and other supposedly “pro-family” measures.

Now, many in the Christian nationalist wing of the Republican Party openly want Putin to crush Ukraine’s pro-Western government and win the war. They willingly accept Russian disinformation and often parrot Moscow’s lies about Ukraine.