The Struggle for the Soul of America: Is Trump’s Support of Putin’s Ukraine Invasion a Bridge Too Far for Republicans?

It’s hard to know what to make of the Republican Party these days. The Grand Old Party used to stand for family values and against the former communist Soviet Union, now Russia. Remember when Republican President Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union the “evil empire?” That was before Donald Trump came along and turned the GOP upside down.

Trump recently congratulated Russian President Putin’s invasion of the Ukraine calling it a “savvy” move and a “stroke of genius.”[1] With Trump heading the Party, many Republicans followed his lead and began seeing Russia in a more favorable light. In a recent Gallup poll, only one-in-three Republicans saw Russia as a threat.[2]

As for family values, the only one Republicans support is the right to be born. Once a mother gives birth and an actual family exists, the GOP wants no part of it. A few months ago, with Trump cheering them on, Congressional Republicans rejected President Biden’s Build Back Better legislation to support stronger families. The bill would have extended child tax credits, provided universal preschool for all 3 and 4-year old children, offered free school lunches for millions of low-income students, expanded healthcare, capped childcare costs and more.[3]   

But maybe Trump’s embrace of Putin and his invasion of democratic Ukraine was a bridge too far for even most Republicans.  A recent NBC poll “found that 56% of GOPers describe themselves as supporters of the Republican Party, with 36% saying they are supporters of Trump. That’s a reversal from late 2020, when 54% described themselves as supporters of Trump and 38% supporters of the GOP.”[4]

Trump’s biggest supporters in 2020 were white male voters without a college degree. Seventy percent of them went for Trump. Now only 50% favor him while 46% disapprove. Additionally, voters over 65 are generally more conservative. Trump won 52% of them in 2020. A recent poll indicated that 60% of those older voters now view Trump unfavorably.[5]

At the same time, Biden’s performance has not been receiving very high marks. The latest poll has him at 53% disapproval and 43% approval.[6] Still, a January survey found that Biden would best Trump, 53% to 43%, in a hypothetical 2024 rematch.[7]

What to make of all this? More Republicans appear to be tiring of Trump’s empty bluster. They are seeing Trump as the con man that he is, whether it’s his Big Lie about the 2020 election or his support of Putin. They abhor Trump’s vengefulness and his constantly putting himself above the interests of their party.

What remains to be seen is the Democrats’ response. Bill Maher recently suggested that the Democrats need to be gracious to those former Trump lovers. Not to shame them for their failure to see through Trump, but rather “provide a face-saving path” out of Trump world.[8]

This is another opportunity for the Democrats to regain their mojo. With the coming House Select Committee’s hearings on the January 6th insurrection, the receding of the COVID pandemic, the nominating of a highly qualified, black woman to the Supreme Court, the recovering economy and Trump’s losing his shine, Biden and the Democrats may yet win back the voting public next fall.

Bruce Berlin, J.D.

A retired, public sector ethics attorney, Berlin is the author of Breaking Big Money’s Grip on America (See, the founder of New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics, a former U.S. Institute of Peace fellow, and the founder and former executive director of The Trinity Forum for International Security and Conflict Resolution. He can be reached at

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[5] Ibid.




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