Did Putin Just Save Democracy?

He’s a dangerous egomaniac who doesn’t listen to anybody. There’s not much there even when he’s all there, and now there’s reason to believe that he’s not.

No, I’m not talking about Donald Trump, but rather his old boss Vladimir Putin. And yet, maybe no one has done more to revive liberal democracy than the Russian president. Look at what’s happened since Putin started his war on Ukraine.

First, NATO, which had been fraying, has now been united and reenergized by Putin’s aggression. They’ve been reminded of why they exist: to fight off authoritarian bullies like this. Far from discouraging further NATO expansion, when this is all over, other nations, like Sweden and Finland who have never seen the need to join might find reason to reconsider. And don’t forget that NATO is essentially a military alliance set up to defend liberal democracy — even if some of its members, like Poland, strain the definition. A stronger NATO is good for democracy and liberal values.

Second, it turns out that democracy and the human need for free speech are stronger even in Russia than Putin had counted on. Russians are protesting and speaking openly about their opposition to the war. Brave Russian journalists continue to report accurately in contrast to Putin’s state-run media. At last count, Putin had jailed more than 3,000 of his opponents or opponents of his war, but they just keep coming. It’s too early to allow ourselves to hope that this might bring Putin down, but it has certainly weakened him.

If this guy can stand up for democracy, why can’t we?

Third, almost overnight, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has transformed himself into Winston Churchill. “I need ammunition, not a ride,” isn’t the kind of thing you usually see on a statue, but some day you might. He’s an unlikely hero, which makes it all the more inspiring. If a former comedian and a man of whom not much was expected can do this, why can’t any of us rise to the challenge?  And he’s risking death to defend his country and democracy. For those of us who have taken our freedoms for granted, this should be an inspiration and a wake-up call.

Fourth, Trump, Mike Pompeo, Fox News and the American hard-right all look ridiculous. Well, even more so. Their fawning over Putin has backfired. Putin isn’t shrewd and strong; he’s stupid and unhinged, much like them. Yeah, I know. For his strongest supporters, it doesn’t seem to matter what Trump does, and Fox will spin this any way they want for their gullible audience. But the next election could be decided by suburban Republican-leaning voters who find Trump and his ilk embarrassing. This can’t be helping Republicans right now.

On every front, Putin and Trump (they’re the same kind of guy) are getting the opposite of what they intended. Putin/Trump is the very embodiment of the bully, the coward, the fool and the enemy of freedom. Putin/Trump is on the run right now due to its own mind-boggling miscalculation borne of its own hubris.

Thanks, Vladimir. We needed that.

And on another matter… it’s trivial in comparison to what’s going on in the world right now, but MLB now seems certain to delay Opening Day. Baseball has been losing fans steadily for decades and this will just continue the trend. But one good thing might come out of it. As Urban Milwaukee’s Bruce Murphy reports, the Brewers are gearing up to hit the taxpayers for another round of spending on their stadium. I’ve always thought that it was outrageous when billionaire team owners demand taxpayer subsidies for their own capital investments. The longer the lock out continues the harder it gets for the Brewers’ owners to convince taxpayers to pay their bills for them.


Published by dave cieslewicz

Madison/Upper Peninsula based writer. Mayor of Madison, WI from 2003 to 2011.

3 thoughts on “Did Putin Just Save Democracy?

  1. As you are voicing an opinion similar to your fellow bloggeur David Blaska, I will mostly repost what I wrote there:

    Unimpressed with Zelensky. From my extremely limited perspective, he is less competent to lead Ukraine than Biden is the US. I also do not support nazism in any form. I also do not support Putin’s aggression. Hell, I don’t support war in general or in particular.

    Simple solution – allow the people of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions to vote on which country they want to be a part of. As they voted to secede from Ukraine in 2014, the outcome is predictable. This is how democracy would be supported Dave.

    There are greater than 90% native Russian speakers in that area. One of Zelensky’s first moves as President was to remove Russian as an official state language. This would be like Trudeau eliminating French as a Canadian language. One of his next moves was to allow the Azov battalion to enforce his diktats in the Donbass.

    The Azov battalion – an openly neo-nazi organization – plays an active role in the Zelensky government. Biletsky, their leader stated “The historic mission of our nation in this critical moment is to lead the White Races of the world in a final crusade for their survival. A crusade against the Semite-led Untermenschen.” At Biletsky’s urging, Zelensky went to NATO in December begging for nukes. Erik Prince, of Blackwater infamy, is intimately involved with the Azov organization.

    I also do not trust stories being actively promulgated by the MSM – the miraculous transformation of clown to leader in the present case – that magically appear everywhere overnight. Biden’s speech on the subject was pure propaganda. That so many people are willingly jump on a blatantly biased bandwagon I find deeply troubling for our future.


  2. You are actively spreading Russian propaganda right now. Azoz Battalion isn’t a real thing, Zelenski is an observant Jew. Eric Prince is running around saying we should let the Russians have Ukraine. No one is talking about Nukes except for Putin. Do yourself a favor and put down your copy of Jacobin and read some real news.


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