American ideals are changing, and not for the better.
According to a Gallup World Affairs survey, American opinion of Russian president Vladimir Putin has skyrocketed in the past two years. His overall favorability rating has nearly doubled from 13% to 22%, driven mostly by an astonishing change of heart by Republicans. 32% of Republicans now approve of the Russian president, compared with only 12% in 2015.
Millennial polling company Whatsgoodly posed a slightly different question, and found even more dramatic results. Fully 58% of conservative millennials said they “respect” Putin, compared to only 20% of liberal millennials.
“Dude’s a baller in his own messed up sort of way,” wrote one individual.
“You may not like him but you’ve gotta respect the guy,” commented another.
So how does one earn the approval of the American people? And why has the number risen so dramatically in recent months?
Perhaps it has to do with our changing ideals. For two years, since Donald Trump announced his candidacy in June 2015, the American psyche has been bombarded with a different type of leader. Trump sells himself as strong, capable, and no nonsense. He doesn’t care about normal democratic channels, and will get the job done despite human rights objections.
Trump also doesn’t bother with the same moral high ground of other politicians. The man insults disabled reporters, demands loyalty from independent organizations, labels his enemies as “fake news,” and calls religions or ethnicities dangerous or “rapists.”
As the American people adjust to this new leader of the free world, they have begun to embrace his own unique flavor of leadership. Many voters, particularly conservatives, have swallowed a narrative that treats his supposed strengths as necessary and his flaws as unimportant.
Strong. Ambitious. Morally ambiguous. Enemy of the press. Remind you of anyone else?
How about Putin? The Russian president exemplifies everything that Trump is trying to accomplish. He’s a strong leader who puts his own nation first with little respect for moral objections, free speech, or minority rights.
Back in 2015, these qualities might have seemed antithetical to American values. To an American public trained to respect strength and ignore democracy, however, he’s an ideal leader.
As conservative America adjusts to Trump, they could start to normalize his unusual behavior. By the end of Trump’s term, voters may look favorably upon strong, morally questionable leaders such as Saddam Hussein, Kim Jong Un, and Moammar Ghadafi (all leaders that Trump has complimented). As Trump himself has said “Hats off to the Russians” – the American people may soon agree.
Methodology: Results for this survey were collected from 1455 US millennials between June 7, 2016, and June 27, 2017. For results based on the total sample of US millennials, the margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. Whatsgoodly is the largest social polling app for millennials on topics from market research to politics.