Seven Elements in Common between the Culture War in America and the War in Ukraine

Matthew Dowd
3 min readMay 29, 2023

I know comparing the culture war in America and the war in Ukraine will likely cause some people to say I either have lost my mind or that I am part of the “deep state” or some “international cabal”. Well, stick with me here for a few moments and let me explain how the culture war and the Ukraine war have important and disturbing elements in common.

I understand Russia rolling tanks across a border, launching missiles, and killing thousands of innocent Ukrainians is not the same as the ongoing christian nationalist culture war here in the United States. But the damage being done by Russia and christian nationalists in America to once thriving sovereign democracies is exceedingly comparable broadly speaking. But what I really want to elucidate is the seven specific ways the two wars are comparable.

  1. Christian nationalists and Russia each pine for the days when they held sway over a land. Christian nationalists see America as their birthright, and as they have lost power and place in an increasingly diverse and multicultural country, they seek to return our country to the days they held near exclusive power. Russia sees Ukraine as their own territory and discount any independence for Ukraine and push to return it under their power.
  2. Christian nationalists and Russia each launched a war against citizens trying to freely live their lives. As a diverse population in America tries to live their lives in equality and be free to be who they are whatever that means whether by race, religion, sexuality, etc, christian nationalists see those freedoms as “losing their country”. Russia sees Ukraine as exercising their freedoms and independence as a direct threat to Moscow and the “Russian way”.
  3. Christian nationalists and Russia each believe the ends justify the means. They believe since their ends are holy and morally justified (at least in their minds), they can do just about anything to achieve those ends. If that means throwing out the rule of law, well then fine. If that means trampling on others rights and freedoms, ok by them. If that means accepting criminals or corruption into their fold, that all works if it helps them get their “divine” ends.
  4. For each, democracy and the rights of a majority of voters gets in the way of their objective of absolute power over the culture and direction of a a country. For them, democracy is flawed if they don’t hold the levers of power, so Russia’s and christian nationalist’s goal is a form of autocracy which empowers their particular vision of the country.
  5. Russia and christian nationalists each use disinformation to accomplish their objective. If a lie helps them with their objectives, lie away. If the free press holds them accountable with truth, attack the press relentlessly. If books threaten them, ban the books. If peaceful protests threaten their goals, create conspiracy theories and spread falsehoods.
  6. A huge fear each have and one of the gravest perceived threats Russia and christian nationalists see is a global coalition which pushes democratic ideals, inclusiveness and the universal idea of equality for all, and the inalienable human right to live freely and be empowered to live out their lives in diverse ways and run their own affairs.
  7. Russia and christian nationalists each act like, and falsely state, that they are the aggrieved party. The fact is they each actually started the war that is occurring in this moment. They accuse the other side of being fascists when in fact they regularly practice the ways of fascism. Russia says they launched the war because of the threat of an independent Ukraine, and christian nationalists launched the war because of the threat of a diverse America.

As I contemplate the sacrifice of so many on this Memorial Day who stood up for democracy and freedoms, I believe it is incumbent upon us all to clearly see the threat that both Russia and christian nationalist pose to our democracy and freedoms in the world. The best way to honor the legacy of those who have suffered and died in defense of our ideals in the past is to speak the truth as we best understand it and fight for democracy in the present. This is the only way a bright democratic future can be preserved for our children and the generations ahead.