NATO recommits to protecting democracy; 63 House Republicans vote ‘no’, by Daily Editors
What does Jason Smith have against democracy? What’s Billy Long’s beef with Defense Against Tyranny? The two Missouri congressmen were among 63 House Republicans who voted against a nonbinding resolution expressing support for NATO and reinforcing its commitment to democratic principles.
Opponents have flimsy excuses for the wording of the resolution, which some fear is an insult to faltering democracies like Hungary. But in the context of what the far right is doing here at home regarding access to the vote, it is increasingly clear that their real problem is democracy itself.
NATO, formed by Western democracies 73 years ago this week to contain Soviet aggression, is the most successful military alliance in history. Before the Trump era, it would have been unthinkable for any serious American politician, let alone a self-proclaimed conservative, to undermine this crucial institution, which has protected democracy around the world for generations.
But NATO was among former President Donald Trump’s favorite punching bags, serving his uncanny affection for Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Trump has made it fashionable for the American right to underestimate the dangers of authoritarianism and to undermine the most important global protection against it – as Tuesday’s vote reaffirmed. In addition to Smith and Long (Missouri’s two Trumpiest House members), the “no” list included goofy figures such as Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia and Rep. Madison Cawthorn of North Carolina.
And what do they have against the NATO resolution? Some have taken issue with language supporting NATO’s proposed “Center for Democratic Resilience” to strengthen democracy among NATO members and address “internal threats from supporters of illiberalism”. Rep. Andy Harris, R-Maryland, called the phrasing a “left-progressive dog whistle” against NATO members Poland and Hungary.
Deliberately or not, this logic confuses what “liberal” means in American politics (the opposite of conservative) with what it means on the world stage (the opposite of authoritarian). The resolution does not specifically mention Hungary, but yes, that country’s leader, Viktor Orban, has transformed it from a democracy into something resembling an autocracy – and, yes, that should be of concern to an alliance whose legitimacy does not ultimately rests not on its armament, but on its commitment to democracy.
Frightening as it is that about a third of the House GOP caucus would oppose the NATO resolution in order to stand with a quasi-autocrat like Orban, their opposition is equally absurd, since Hungary (like Poland) officially supports the principles underlying the resolution.
But that makes a little more sense when you consider what’s been happening closer to home lately, with new laws in GOP-dominated states designed to tilt elections toward Republicans — that’s how that Orban’s party has just been re-elected. Most NATO members may view Hungary as an old partner in need of reform, but America’s far-right Republicans seem to view it more as an inspiration to circumvent democracy.
REPRINTED FROM ST. LOUIS POST-SHIPPING
Photo credit: clearing at Pixabay