Political Psychology

Trump and MAGA Divisiveness Caused Putin’s Invasion of Ukraine


In our social media driven world racing for likes, shares, follows, and comments, we’ve heard predictions of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine for months if not years. The predictions have been so frequent that we’ve tuned them out. While we may be shocked-not shocked, if you know what I mean, at what is happening, we don’t think it involves us very directly.

But, Putin’s invasion of Russia is the outcome of the unholy alliance between Putin and the GQP to dismantle the old world order of alliances between liberal Western democracies and replace it with an alliance between illiberal Eastern authoritarian oligarchies. Whether the GQP politicians are falling-in behind the Ol’ Pussy Grabber’s praise for Putin’s “genius” or braying about more sanctions, they are responsible for Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Putin is banking on the divisiveness of American politics to stymie any effective NATO response to his war. Let’s take a deeper dive into the psyche of MAGA and the reasons that they would support something so radically divorced from anything the US has ever stood for in our short history.

Put on your hazmats suits, it’s going to be messy because there are two principles operating here: the follow the leader theory of political science and the absolute certainty of dogmatic belief.

The Follow The Leader Theory of Politics

One thing the Ol’ Pussy Grabber did for us is he lent tremendous support for the follow-the-leader theory of political support. You see, political science types have long debated whether voters voted for people who supported the issues that they supported or they supported the issues that the politicians they liked supported.

Turns out it is the latter. Whatever Trump shat that morning, MAGA thought smelled like chocolate. They ate it up and begged for more, figuratively.

That idea explains the enthusiasm that MAGA has for Putin as he invades a sovereign nation. A position that was unthinkable just one GOP presidency ago. According to the conservative crowd, it was always okay for us to invade sovereign nations, but it was never okay for anyone we disliked to do it.

What’s more, we had always disliked Russia, that is until Trump came along. And, because MAGA loves them some manly macho Putin meat, the GQP does, too. Or at least most of the Trump ass worshippers do using the excuse that their constituents demand it of them. Which given the follow-the-leader theory, amounts to so much circular smoke and mirrors since the constituents wouldn’t support it unless the politicians they liked did.

Here’s the interesting point, Trump has praised Putin’s genius in his invasion of Ukraine, ergo presto, so does MAGA, but there is some question of whether Trump’s opinion still leads MAGA belief and dogma.

When Trump praised the #COVID19 vaccines and urged his followers to get vaccinated, he was lustily booed like he was some common Democrat, so maybe Putin’s real genius was in creating a Frankenstein’s monster in the rank and vile MAGA.

Leave it to the Ol’ Pussy Grabber to fuck up even something so simple as the follow the leader approach to politics. The GQP and Trump have created a radicalized dogmatic crowd who are absolutely certain that the Big Lie is correct.

The Absolute Certainty of Dogma

Political scientists have studied the the political extremists in the population. There are some interesting findings that helps explain why Putin is now bold enough to defy and redefine the world order.

Dogmatic Belief

Thomas Costello and Shauna Bowes report on their study of dogma and ideological extremism. First, they found that one-third of extremists believe they are 100% right. Remember the greedy defectors who are willing to screw any future chance of survival for hamberder today? That’s these folks. Interestingly, liberals were just as likely as conservatives to be 100% certain. Remember those folks who couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Clinton in 2016 and were just as meh with Trump as they would’ve been with Clinton and are howling at the moon because Biden can’t deliver a socialist paradise? That’s those folks, too.

One example is the forced birthers. The radicalized pro-birth crowd is 100% certain that they are correct and justified in using forced birth and the resulting poverty to punish the harlots who are fornicating outside of the provisions that god has created for rutting like horses in the field. They are so certain that their ends are right that any means they use to get there are justified even if it means overthrowing the US Constitution. That’s what the political scientists are saying.

Extreme liberals and conservatives part ways over the generality of their dogma. Conservatives are far more likely to certain that ALL of their beliefs are 100% absolutely fucking true, while liberals are content with believing only specific beliefs are. The hyperconfidence in generalized beliefs was driven by social ideology and not the traditional economic ideology that we usually attribute to political beliefs.

Fifty years of social wedge issues has driven the stake through the heart of any appeal that fiscal conservatism might could have had on MAGA. MAGA wants what it wants; they want it now; and death to any who stand in their way!

The reason Trump was booed for his about face on the #COVID19 vaccines is that once dogma is firmly entrenched in MAGA’s mind. They no longer seek out new information about those beliefs. They are right! Nuff said. Who needs to know anything more. In fact, they actively avoid any contradictory information.

Active Information Avoidance

A study published in 2020 illuminates how this active information avoidance works. This study examined the role of uncertainty or confidence in seeking information to help clarify a decision or issue. The more dogmatic the participants in the study were, the less likely they were to use uncertainty to seek more information. Hunh, professor?

It seems that the dogmatic were sure of their beliefs and judgments and didn’t feel the need to find out more. It is one reason that more information about, say, #COVID19, doesn’t produce decisions to get vaccinated. Even if the information is coming from a favored politician.

Dogmatic belief correlates not only being 100% certain of your belief, but also, with not seeking further information. To apply this to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, MAGA’s gut reaction to support Putin’s invasion and to attack Biden for resisting the invasion:

  • MAGA is radicalized. They hold extreme dogmatic beliefs.
  • They are 100% absolutely certain that they are correct. This is a generalization that their ideology will lead them to the correct understanding.
  • They don’t need no more stinking information from the fake media to know that Biden forced Putin to invade Ukraine. They know it is true.
  • They will actively avoid any information that may contradict this conclusion. This active information avoidance is made easier by Fox News and other conservative media outlets issuing blatant lies about the invasion.

Putin knows he is safe in invading Ukraine. He prepared for the sanctions that the West will put on him and his oligarchs. He feels secure in his grip on his internal politics. He knows that the West is hopelessly divided over the conservative-liberal fault line, so no unified coherent reaction is likely. Trump has seen to this division and creating a constituency that questions the alliance structure that the liberal democracies have created over the past seventy years or so.

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11 replies »

  1. This is the focus of my optimism in these dark days.

    We can only hope Putin loses his war quickly and the Russian people bring him down.

    While the slow wheels of American justice turn on Trump, the fall of Putin the Genius will only add weight to the fall of the Stable Genius.

    These two rancid stains on humanity must meet justice, and fall into disgrace together.

    Putin’s war may well mark the turning point for both of them, into the final steep decline for these two monsters.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m hoping that it is hubristic overreach as well. Putin may not know any limit, though. He may not be capable of curbing his desires at the moment. Hopefully, someone in Russia will be able to curb them for him.

      Jack

      Like

  2. Dogma is so attractive. The simplicity of making a decision about some complicated subject just once and never having to think seriously about it is cognitive junk food, addictive. The same is true of follow-the-leader politics, not having to think and decide about issues.

    We will see how long the increased unity that Putin’s action has brought to NATO and Europe lasts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Howdy Bob!

      More important than the increased unity is the effectiveness of their countermeasures. Putin is gambling that their sanctions will be ineffective that his control of his population is tight enough to weather their protests that no one has a stomach to risk a nuclear exchange over Ukraine. He believes that he can remake the world order and tilt it in favor of the authoritarian governments, the new axis of Russia-China. He believes that the outrage that everyone is expressing will blow over and Russia and China will be able to host the World Cup, Olympics, and other sporting events; countries will still buy their oil and natural gas; and manufacturers will still build factories there. In many ways he’s right. The world is too integrated to be able to excise such an important part of it as Russia and China both play, not like we can do to North Korea, Iran, and Afghanistan.

      What happens when China invades Taiwan, takes over the islands in the South China Sea, and very militantly lays claim to sea lanes? When it cuts the Mekong off? When Russia uses its natural gas and oil pipelines to Western Europe as a cudgel?

      Our populations have proven that they are not willing to endure even a small amount of hardship to curtail a pandemic. How likely are we to endure the hardship it will take to deter determined foes like Russia and China?

      Huzzah!
      Jack

      Liked by 1 person

      • And, when we have a former President and his followers and enablers cheering Putin on, the odds don’t look good.

        Putin has pretty much bet the farm on this move. When (not “if”) a cyber attack on a government function or major infrastructure of a NATO member is definitely traced to Russian state actors, is that a NATO Article 5 trigger?

        When Putin threatens, everybody thinks of nukes, but he has demonstrated cyber capabilities often, and there are reports that his cyber-security people are already worried about counter attacks in that realm.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Howdy Bob!

          That is what makes Putin’s invasion of Ukraine such a reckless move. The risk of this spinning wildly out of control and escalating to something near proportionate to a world war is very real.

          This will be the first war fought using serious cyberattacks. It will be somewhat akin to using airplanes and tanks in WWI, I reckon. They will do some damage and be an annoyance, but largely ineffective. The lessons learned in cyber warfare will be applied in the next conflict.

          That Putin and Xi both have territorial aspirations guarantees that there will be a next major war.

          Right now the analogy to Nazi Germany and the appeasement policy of Chamberlain is pretty accurate. How we responded to Crimea paved the way for this move. How we respond to this attack will determine whether he goes after the Baltic States next and whether China moves on Taiwan.

          The conflict between the West and Russia-China has just been renewed. The world is drawn into two large distinct opposing camps and every country will be required to join one or the other.

          The only reason this is happening is because Putin succeeded in weakening the US and UK through Trump and Brexit and Johnson. We are at a very dangerous place.

          Huzzah!
          Jack

          Liked by 1 person

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