The reaction of MAGA World to the FBI’s search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago bunker tells us exactly what kind of fight we have on our hands between now and January 21, 2025.
From the militia fever swamps to the core of the Republican “Establishment,” it’s a united chorus of denunciations, threats of violence, and calls for revenge. The self-proclaimed “party of law and order”’ says their Great Leader is above the law. The demagogues who respond to chants of “Black Lives Matter” by screaming “Back the Blue” now call for defunding the FBI. The shock troops of MAGA say they are ready to go: “Civil War 2.0 just kicked off.” “Let’s do the war.” “Summertime was made for killing fields.”
Prosecution of every illegal act of MAGA partisans, from Jan. 6 rioters to “fake elector” coup-plotters to former President document-stealers, is one vital component of the battle underway. But there is no way this fight is going to be settled by legal means. MAGA’s latest tirades are a stark reminder that they’ve adopted a 21st century Dred Scott outlook: the multiracial, gender-inclusive majority has no rights MAGA is bound to respect.
We are in a test of power. Winning the 2022 and 2024 battles for votes—and for who gets to count the votes—is indispensable if MAGA’s plans are going to be defeated. But electoral victories alone will not be sufficient. Actions in the courts and in the streets, organization and mobilization in workplaces, schools and communities, determination in the face of intimidation and violence—all these will be required as well.
Ice-T’s tweet put it succinctly: “Shit’s poppin off.”
Continuation of the MAGA narrative
MAGA World’s current explosion of outrage flows directly from the white grievance, Big Lie narrative that permeates its worldview. The victims in today’s U.S.A are right-thinking white Christians who constitute the only “real Americans.” Any elections lost by the party that represents these “real Americans” are illegitimate. And any part of the government that is not led and staffed by MAGA loyalists is part of a “deep state” that must be cleansed and “rebuilt from the ground up.”
Flowing from this outlook is a concrete action plan. Take control of the election machinery in red and battleground states in the upcoming midterms. Add billionaire dollars, gerrymandering, voter suppression, and threats of violence to take full control of the federal government in 2024. Then purge and stack every federal agency until all are mirror images of today’s Supreme Court.
It’s fascism American-style, undisguised, as this tweet circulating on the mainstream right makes clear:
“It’s time for conservatives to forsake nostalgia. America isn’t going back to how it was when we were growing up. The way forward is going to require the people we elect to exercise a lot more power than conservatives have been traditionally comfortable with.”
Alarm bells everywhere
Opposition writers and activists have been sounding alarm bells about MAGA authoritarianism for years. New voices weighed in in the days before the FBI operation, and since then the warnings have become non-stop. Here’s a few of the more widely circulated examples:
- On MAGA’s “plans to ‘deconstruct’ the federal government and turn it into a hyper-politicized agency for Trump to exact revenge on those who are investigating him for conspiring to overturn the results of the 2020 election,” see the profiles of Trump master-strategist Steve Bannon by John Nichols in The Nation or Benjamin Teitelbaum in New Lines.
- On Trump wanting “loyal generals like Hitler’s” and what that implies for a future MAGA presidency, see the excerpt from the new book by Susan Glasser and Peter Baker published in The New Yorker, which includes the text of a scathing resignation letter never sent by Joint Chiefs of the Staff General Mark Milley ’
- On the GOP’s admiration for Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, who supports the “Great Replacement” theory, opposes “race mixing” and says, “A Christian politician cannot be racist, see “Never Trump” conservative Max Boot in the Washington Post. Boot concludes that “the most apt phrase for this American authoritarianism is the New Fascism, and it is fast becoming the dominant trend on the right.”
- On the incitement to violence by GOP leaders in response to the FBI searching Mar-a-Lago, see Dana Milbank in the Washington Post.
- On the base that has been built for this “New Fascism,” see Thomas Edsall in The New York Times, who writes, “Trump has catalyzed racism and racial resentment, misogyny, white status decline, identity threat, economic anxiety, hatred of liberal elites and rage at globalization. Now this incendiary mix is at hand for any willing politician to capitalize on. There is no shortage of takers. But Trump is not just going to walk away and let other candidates stir his toxic political brew.”
Will anti-MAGA’s new momentum be enough?
These new developments occur at a time when resistance to MAGA has regained some initiative after months of widespread pessimism and demoralization. A series of hammer blow SCOTUS decisions, especially the overturn of Roe v. Wade, combined with the Jan. 6 Committee hearings, underscored the danger of MAGA and diminished the GOP lead in public opinion polls.
Then came the Kansas vote, a lopsided defeat for the anti-abortion zealots that sparked a wave of energy and optimism among women’s rights, human rights, progressives, and anti-MAGA moderates. Most recently, passage of the Inflation Reduction Act which, for all its faults (see Bernie’s “ambivalent feelings” message), includes positive features that both moderates and progressives can campaign on this fall.
All this strengthens the hands of those who played key roles in defeating MAGA in 2020 and have been working in the trenches ever since. State based power building groups such as the New Georgia Project and LUCHA in Arizona. Nationwide formations like the Working Families Party, Progressive Democrats of America and Our Revolution. The national community organizing networks and their affiliates. Unions that are throwing down such as UNITE HERE, National Nurses United and SEIU, as well as the AFL-CIO affiliated group Working America, numerous worker centers and the National Domestic Workers Alliance. Innovative organizations and projects like the Movement Voter Project and Seed the Vote. Key racial justice organizations including Mijente, The Movement for Black Lives Electoral Justice Project, Black Voters Matter, and Color of Change. All these and many more local, state, and national groups have grown in sophistication as they incorporate the lessons of 2020 into their ongoing work.
These are the kind of efforts that can add depth to the broad “unite all who can be united” coalition required to beat MAGA, building independent progressive power and expanding the anti-MAGA front in the process.
If all of us join them in going “all in” the way MAGA does, it may be enough.
Featured image: Storming of the US Capitol, Jan. 6, 2021. Tyler Merbler, via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0