As Trump faces the existential end of his real estate empire in New York and a potential prison sentence for trying to stay in power after losing the 2020 election to Joe Biden, his rhetoric is getting more and more dark and dangerous. He is calling his enemies “vermin” and vowing to institutionalize, kill or indict everyone he has a beef with.
The walls are closing in on Trump. He was already a delusional man who veers between reality and an alternate universe. He is getting more deluded and enraged. His one pathway out of ruin would be to regain the power of the presidency. He was willing to cheat before when he lost to Joe Biden. Now I think he will try to get his followers to rise up and fight for him.
This is not just the rantings of one unhinged man who is currently out of power. This is part of a right-wing movement to install the first dictator America has ever had. Trump is being helped by a Republican Party that is a MAGA cult that has been joined by a larger, desperate extremist movement. The movement is underwritten by mega donors using dark money to support the effort thanks to Citizens United.
In an appearance on Morning Joe, George Conway explained: “the problem is not solely Trump but the entire MAGA movement he spawned. “What is at stake now goes way beyond … one deranged, deluded, disordered man. … The termites are loose in the basement of the house.” He reiterated, “This goes to the fundamental aspect of what makes America America.”
Why is this happening to us?
THE MAGA MOVEMENT IS BIGGER THAN TRUMP
The reason we are experiencing this movement is, at least in part, because we are on the cusp of doing something no other country on earth has done yet.
We are about to become a multicultural democracy, or at least that is what we COULD become. We are the first nation to get to this remarkable moment.
We got here because of changes in immigration laws. People wanted to live in America; admissions policies in our universities, our support of freedom and human rights; and because Barack Obama was elected president. Above all, we are here because our country is changing from a majority white to a majority multiracial nation.
Put more simply, we have a MAGA extremist movement in America thanks, in large part, to backlash.
STIRRING UP AND HARNASSING ANGER AND FEAR
Politically, Trump and the ultra conservatives realized that older low information white Americans are so fearful about losing their culture they can harness that fear and the hate to get into power, possibly “forever”.
Hate speech is up. Acts of hate are up. Fearmongering works to gin up and get people who are already upset to channel their anger at the “other”- immigrants, transgender people, Democrats, Trump’s enemies.
Joe Biden stands in stark contrast to Trump as a man who is not rabid, not enraged, not disrespectful. He wants to bring people together. He is soft spoken and self-effacing.
Trump, on the other hand, is a made for TV American dictator. Central casting could not have chosen a better guy for this role with his mean humor. An entertainer. I think Putin was the casting director.
Trump understands the autocrat’s playbook. Maybe that’s what he was learning from Putin when they had their secret meetings where we never got the translator’s notes. Maybe Putin was coaching him.
Trump uses the plays from the autocrat’s playbook every day to empower himself. He is a fountain of disinformation. He rewrites reality and then he repeats and insists his version is true over and over and over again. He knows that’s how you get people to believe propaganda.
Trump uses the cameras arrayed outside of the courtroom where he is facing consequences for breaking the law as well as his Truth-less Social platform to animate his base.
“The govt is coming after YOU. I am taking the heat for you. I am standing in the way.” Trump is the second coming for the MAGAs. He is their version of Jesus.
If Trump supporters thought about it for a minute, it would be clear that the govt isn’t coming after them. After all, they didn’t lie to the bank about the value of their property or try with all their might to overturn a free and fair election. Trump did that.
But I am convinced that few Trump supporters are critical thinkers … even for a minute. I base that at least in part on the comment section of my blog, The Markin Report. I can and do read some of the comments and study the FB pages of Trump supporters who comment. It is a sociological mindblower.
Most of the Trump supporters I see on FB appear to be nice, normal mostly White men and women 55 and older with full lives. They use words like “blessings” a lot. They love their grandkids and their football teams. They know they are right. They are not desperately poor. They take vacations. They especially seem to enjoy cruises. They own cars and trucks and run businesses, have jobs and income. So, what’s going on with these people?
Have you ever heard Linda Ronstadt sing “When Will I Be Loved”? That song helps me understand how some people got sucked into Trump.
I been cheated. Been mistreated. When will I be loved?
I been put down. I been pushed round. When will I be loved?
I been made blue. I been lied to. When will I be loved?
MAGA Trump supporters believe that our country has let them down. They thought they were destined to be special and get ahead in the world just based on who they were. They thought that was their birthright.
Instead, they see a rising tide of black and brown people and women who are getting ahead based on ability, education, equity and inclusion. They are fearful about the future not only for themselves but for their children and grandkids.
The world changed too fast for them. Some got hit upside the head by a shift to global industrialization that hurt them. Their culture changed out from under them. And they lost upward mobility.
Who was to blame for that?
Trump told them who to blame and he told them he loved them.
They still feel his love. “Good people on both sides”. “Go home now. We love you”.
Trump also has a unique way of connecting with his followers at his rallies.
He reveals his stream of consciousness. He riffs and meanders and shares his train of thought with his audience. In a curious way this is similar to what happens in psychoanalysis or therapy.
Trump puts the audience in the role of the intimate valued listener who joins with him. The audience hears Trumps’ innermost thoughts. Often, he is saying what they are already thinking. They feel close to him. He trusts them even with his bad thoughts. Turns out, those are THEIR bad thoughts too!
That’s why you see his followers at rallies laughing at his mean jokes about Paul Pelosi getting attacked, for example. Trump is also normalizing assault by talking that way. Trump expresses anger at the Libs who believe in diversity, equity and inclusion- oh, and drink lattes and do yoga and are a bunch of snowflakes. He is turning fear of the “other” into permission of violence towards the “other”.
Trump’s followers also demand that Fox and conservative media tell them what they want to hear. If not, they leave and go to another one that DOES tell them what they want to hear. The Fox audience demanded and still demands the Big Lie.
In the comment section for my blog, Trump supporters constantly berate me for “lying to them”. “Stop lying to me!” they beg. They can’t stand it that I am telling them something they don’t want to hear and don’t have to hear on Fox or OANN or some other favorite platform of disinformation.
TYRANNY OF THE MINORITY
Harvard professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt write in their must-read book, Tyranny of the Minority, that our society has changed dramatically in the last 50 – 60 years. We have rapidly become much more multicultural. The culture shift includes changes in how we work and communicate. It has frightened and unmoored especially older Americans living in areas where the racial composition of the community is shifting.
20- 30% of our country falls into the category of MAGA. Reactionary white low-education. Angry and scared about the disruption and the changes in their lives they reject and don’t understand or feel aligned with. The pandemic added to this sense of disruption.
America’s white majority is also aging out. The US census projects that white people will become a minority in the US in 2045.
The MAGA movement and Christian nationalism are a response to the ebbing of a dominant culture that feels it is being “replaced” against its will. What do they do to feel safer? Book bans, loss of human rights, abortion bans, shut down anyone who disagrees. This is a reaction to fear.
No country in which the dominant cultural group loses status and power has made it to becoming a true multicultural democracy yet. We could be the first.
To get there Levitsky and Ziblatt say there are two pillars we need to embrace:
- Tolerate diversity
- Support racial equality
Just as important– people in our country and serving in government must be loyal to the Constitution and the rule of law, not to any one person, if we hope to keep our democracy. Presidents cannot be kings. No one should be above the law.
But let’s face it. Democracies are messy and require compromise. Trump appeals to a lot of Americans who don’t want to compromise and feel too much is at stake to give in.
Team crazy in the House of Representatives is part of the MAGA extremist movement that wants to end our democracy. Their unstated goal is to prove government doesn’t work. Why? Because that sets the stage for a different form of government where you don’t have to compromise. You get to have your way all the time.
It’s called a dictatorship.
Gumming up the works IS the goal. It’s easy. They can just say no and accomplish their goal.
Tommy Tuberville in the Senate is the perfect example of a MAGA extremist. He has been blocking the appointments of close to 400 men and women in the military to make his point that he is against reproductive rights for women in the military. He’s gumming up the works. He’s proving our government doesn’t work.
Extremists got elected to the House from districts that are gerrymandered to insure they will get elected so long as they have an R by their name. Too many Americans are tribal voters. Even if Trump is in prison, they would vote for him. Extremists like Marjorie Taylor Greene, Paul Gosar and many others come from red districts where they don’t have to worry about whether they will be re-elected.
THESE ARE DANGEROUS TIMES FOR OUR DEMOCRACY
This is why Joe Biden is the right person to lead our country in this dangerous time. He gets it that our founding fathers set up a system that gives the rural areas of America more voting power.
He knows that fear and fear mongering set us up for a radicalized Republican base, the potential for a tyranny of the minority and could be the end of our democracy. As he puts it, we need to restore the soul of our nation.
He gets it that he also needs to help people in red states who feel lied to and unloved, to succeed in life so at least some of them will realize that they are being heard and helped with good jobs, expanded internet and new industry.
The remarkable bipartisan successes Biden has accomplished as well as the outstanding success he has had globally need to be understood by the American people. But that’s hard. Because most Americans are hardly listening to anything political.
In a recent NYT Siena poll, voters in battleground states said they trusted Donald J. Trump over President Biden on the economy, foreign policy and immigration, and it indicated that Mr. Biden’s multiracial base shows signs of fraying. In that poll Trump leads by 10 points in Nevada, six in Georgia, five in Arizona, five in Michigan and four in Pennsylvania. Mr. Biden held a 2-point edge in Wisconsin.
“The world is falling apart under Biden,” says Spencer Weiss, a 53-year-old electrical substation specialist in Bloomsburg, Pa., who supported Mr. Biden in 2020 but is now backing Mr. Trump, albeit with some reservations. “I would much rather see somebody that I feel can be a positive role-model leader for the country. But at least I think Trump has his wits about him.”
Really? He thinks Trump has his wits about him? Has he been listening to Trump lately? Trump has claimed more than once that he won the election in 2016 by beating Barack Obama. Trump can’t remember what city he is in at his rally. Trump says Biden will start World War II.
In the same poll, a generic Democrat running against Trump has an 8-point lead over Trump. And if Trump were to be found guilty in one of his criminal cases suddenly Trump drops about 8 pts in the same battleground states.
By-the-way, there are many other polls that show Biden leading Trump albeit by narrow margins. And a lot can also happen in a year.
But we also know that in times of uncertainty, people often turn to strongmen.
Trump is a man who never ever says he is wrong or apologizes. He is viewed by millions of Americans as a more powerful leader in large part because of his strong voice and aggressive demeanor: bossiness, intransigence, and bullheadedness are being mistaken for leadership.
He might be wrong, but he is CERTAIN he is right.
THE RIGHT-WING WANTS A “RED CESEAR”
This is why our country is at a tipping point and the next presidential election is for all the marbles.
Far right catastrophists are pushing something they call a “Red Cesear”- a “leader whose post-constitutional rule will restore the strength of his people” Kevin Slack, a political scientist at Hillsdale College, wrote about the New Right’s desire for this Red Cesear.
The leader would get into power through violence. Slack writes that an “armed citizenry with a stake in society, angry about its managed decline, and insistent upon its rights” should oppose our government.
Mike Davis spoke about his plans for a second Trump administration which would “fire a lot of people, indict all the Bidens, deport 10 million people, and pardon the J6 rioters”. “We’re gonna put kids in cages. It’s gonna be glorious,” he said.
Is Mike Davis someone to be concerned about?
Mike Davis is just the kind of loyalist Trump would put in a high-ranking position in his second administration along with Steven Miller.
Mike Johnson, the new speaker of the House, is also a card carrying extremist. He might wear a suit instead of a flak jacket and camouflage, but his views are extreme. Have you heard of the Convention of States?
Under Article V of the U.S. Constitution, Congress is required to hold a constitutional convention if two-thirds of state legislatures (34 states) call for one.
But here’s the catch: there are absolutely no rules for an Article V Convention outlined in the Constitution.
That means the group of people convening to rewrite our Constitution would be totally unelected and unaccountable. There is nothing that could limit the convention to a single issue, so the delegates could write amendments that revoke any of our most cherished rights – like our right to peaceful protest, our freedom of religion, or our right to privacy. There are also no rules preventing corporations from pouring money into the convention to ensure they get their way.
Extremists and wealthy special interests see it as their best chance to write their far-right agenda into a new Constitution. Their goals include doing away with the social safety net and dismantling government agencies.
Mike Johnson has been an enthusiastic supporter of this movement.
Major far-right supporters believe this is the only way to save America from their enemies, the godless left, and restore the country to the form its “deeply religious founders” intended: A nation under God, evangelical, founded on biblical principles and enforcing Christian law.
(Spoiler alert: the founders’ goal was just the opposite- a country free of religious affiliation.)
So far 28 states have called for a convention. They only need six more states.
THE DANGER TO AMERICA FROM TRUMP AND THE RIGHT-WING
Trump is clearly telling us what he plans to do if he gets re-elected.
On day one he will invoke the Insurrection Act to put down the riots he anticipates.
After that Trump and the Republicans will “expand” presidential powers- in short, they will install Trump as a dictator. Project 2025 is their blueprint- google it and read it.
Project 2025 would place the entire Executive Branch of the U.S. federal government under direct presidential control, eliminating the independence of the Department of Justice, Federal Communications Commission, Federal Trade Commission and other agencies.
Trump would insist on loyalty to him instead of loyalty to the Constitution and rule of law.
We shouldn’t be surprised.
Remember in 2019, Trump said, “I have to the right to do whatever I want as president.”
In December, Trump called for the “termination of … the Constitution.”
Behind the scenes a team of thousands of Trump loyalists are currently being assembled with the help of the right-wing Heritage Foundation.
If Trump were to win, thousands of Trump-first loyalists would be ready for legal, judicial, defense, regulatory and domestic policy jobs. His inner circle plans to purge anyone viewed as hostile to the hard-edged, authoritarian plans he calls “Agenda 47.”
- The people leading these efforts aren’t clowns like Rudy Giuliani. They’re smart, experienced people, many with very unconventional and “elastic” views of presidential power and traditional rule of law.
Behind the scenes: The government-in-waiting is being orchestrated by the Heritage Foundation’s well-funded Project 2025, which already has published a 920-page policy book from 400+ contributors. This is Trump’s transition team set in motion in advance.
If Donald Trump wins re-election he will be the first American dictator. Revenge and retribution will be his mission.
AMERICANS NEED TO WAKE UP
According to Ruth Ben-Ghiat who wrote Strongmen, many democracies are lost at the ballot box. Voters either don’t show up or they don’t understand the danger.
Once a democracy is lost it is extremely hard to get it back.
Countries like Portugal have had dictators. Salazar was theirs for over 40 years. He jailed his enemies and ruthlessly silenced opposing voices. Portugal is a democracy today, but it took a coup to oust Salazar.
Countries that have endured dictators and become democracies cherish the freedoms they finally get to enjoy. Freedom of speech. Freedom to love whoever you want to love. Freedom to read what you want to read. Freedom not to be forced to have child you are not ready for. These are some of the rights we in America already have, even though some are being restricted away by the right-wing in red states. If we don’t work to keep our democracy, we could lose these rights and many more.
The stakes could not be greater for the next presidential election. I will be writing about what we can do to keep our democracy in upcoming blog posts.