The Big Turn begs for comment. It occurred only recently, not because of any change of heart, but solely because of animosity for one individual, our current president.

This dramatic turn was taken by the nation’s political left. For decades, the left, meaning Democrats, socialists and the mainstream media, played footsie with the Soviet Union. In fact, from its origin in 1917 to its demise in 1991 and beyond, the Soviet Union (now Russia) has enjoyed the affection of the American left.

There is something about socialism/communism/collectivism that woos those who are left of center. Leftists simply believe in governmental activism and power. Government is their chief tool for achieving social/political goals, not persuasion or even community action. Believing that we all should like big government, they have no qualms about forcing others to accept their views. Leftists just don’t trust the individual. They yearn for Old Europe statism.

Rightists are the opposite. Like America’s intrepid forebears who conquered woods and terrain, they are deeply devoted to individualism. Just grant me freedom, thank you, and I’ll take care of myself, they argue. But no, you need the village and you must accept and live by what the village wants, argues the leftist. Of course, the village likes to tax and spend, limit individualism, and rush to the courts and the streets when things don’t go its way.

No wonder that during the Cold War, Democrats were accused of being “soft on communism.” The lingo of the Cold War years was “hawks” and “doves.” Hawks favored a strong stance against the Soviets. Doves were Soviet sympathizers. Sen. Henry “Scoop” Jackson of Washington state was one of the few Democrats who argued for standing up to the ever-expanding Soviets. Not so for most leftists, however.

When the Soviet Union began to crumble from its own weight, three world leaders saw an opportunity to hasten its fall in hopes that the Soviet people might finally see freedom’s light. All three of these leaders — Margaret Thatcher, Pope John Paul II and Ronald Reagan — were opposed by the left. Thatcher despised socialism. Pope John Paul, being Polish, knew firsthand about the long arm of the socialist Soviets. And Ronald Reagan, that cowboy from out west who the left claimed would get us all blown up, not only ended, but won the Cold War.

Even though the words, “Mr. Gorbechev, tear down this wall,” were in Reagan’s speech to be delivered at the Berlin Wall, his advisers urged him not to say them. In Truman-esque and Trumpian style, however, Reagan followed his own gut and the left cringed. They also cringed when he called the Soviet Union “the Evil Empire.”

Today, the left’s Big Turn is complete. Today it’s OK to call Russia and Mr. Putin evil, and a citizen or president who doesn’t is “uninformed” and “senseless.” But what caused the turn? Is Putin worse than Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev or the Soviet satellite puppets like Castro? Why was the left so enamored with their philosophical cousins for seven decades, only to turn on their present collectivist cousin Putin and call him an enemy?

If they were consistent, the left would be praising Putin as they did his socialist, murderous predecessors. A Russian communist tyrant is a Russian communist tyrant.

The cause of the Big Turn is hatred of Donald Trump. If Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney or John Kasich had been elected president and were sitting with Putin this past week at Helsinki, taking the same position President Trump took, the left and its Republican hangers-on would have been praising them for their moderation.

Absent of Trump, the following words would be the left’s line: “The U.S. and Russia own the vast majority of the world’s nukes. An American president must therefore play nice with the Russian leader and always be in dialogue with him. Failure to engage in detente will move us closer to Cold War II. It would be foolish not to be friends with Mr. Putin.”

The left still won’t acknowledge that in 2016, at least half of the country wanted a new sheriff, even if the new sheriff had a foul mouth. Strong man politics, not Republican niceness, was what the deplorables had in mind.

The left, who formerly never saw a socialist they couldn’t love, is using Putin. Having hypocritically turned from their love of Russian socialism, they disdain Putin merely because he dialogues with a president whom they equally disdain.

Hysteria reigns in the leftist camp. By 2020, it will have choked them.

Roger Hines is a retired high school English teacher and state legislator in Kennesaw.

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