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What does this year's U.S. election and 1990s Russia have in common?

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT)  --  Here’s a political diagnosis that may sound familiar: An electorate that’s angry about declining prosperity, fed up with out-of-touch politicians, and embarrassed by a loss national prestige on the world stage.

It sounds like a description of the current political and social climate in the U.S. during this election year, but a mid-state political scientist says it’s also an accurate description of Russia in the 1990s.

Russians of that era were embarrassed by the loss of prestige that accompanied the collapse of the Soviet Union, suffered under an economy in free fall, and resented the privileges enjoyed by the political elite.

Middle Tennessee State Russian Studies scholar Dr. Andrei Korobkov says Russia’s ruling class was taken by surprise by Boris Yeltsin’s rise to prominence then, just as America’s political elite have been shocked by the rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

“Whatever they do gets just the opposite result. Because they sincerely don’t understand what people hate; that they hate them, that they hate the official ideology, that they hate privileges, that they hate the existing social structure preventing social mobility.”

Dr. Korobkov notes that the end result of the upheaval in Russia was the current authoritarian rule of Vladimir Puttin. He notes that the majority of Russians are supportive of Putin because he provides what they crave.

“Craving for stability and economic prosperity that Putin has given after the feeling of instability of the 1990s to the majority of the people and that means very strong support and quite frankly, yes, people openly say that stability for me is much more important than say democracy.”

A recent study by a Harvard political scientist notes that many Americans are beginning to question the ability of democratic institutions to meet their most pressing needs. Perhaps most troubling of all is a steady rise in the number of America’s young people questioning democracy’s value.

Would you like to learn more about the Harvard study noted above?

Would you like to learn more about Dr. Korobkov's research?