The American Mao: Donald Trump has led the Republican Party into a cultural revolution

Trump may not be president, but he's acting like a dictator — and purging internal dissent the way Mao once did

By Lucian K. Truscott IV


Published December 18, 2021 8:00AM (EST)

Donald Trump and Mao Zedong (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Donald Trump and Mao Zedong (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

There is only one truth: the truth of the party. And the party is Donald Trump.

That's what it's come down to, folks. The Republican Party has been effectively transformed into a doppelgänger of the Chinese Communist Party, with its own version of Chairman Mao Zedong at its head — and the first thing on the Party agenda is a purge.

It started soon after Trump lost the election last November. Who was out? Anyone who refused to help facilitate the Big Lie was pushed out by the Republicans' Maximum Leader. Brad Raffensberger, the Republican secretary of state in Georgia, who turned down Trump's plea to "find" 11,000-plus votes so he could flip the election in that state. Out. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, another Republican who didn't sign onto the Big Lie with enough enthusiasm to please the Maximum Leader: Out. Trump tweeted on Dec. 30 (when he still had a Twitter account), "@BrianKempGA should resign from office. He is an obstructionist who refuses to admit that we won Georgia, BIG!" 

CNN described Trump's purge campaign this way: "Trump has taken his involvement in 2022 Republican primaries to a new level as he works to permanently mold the GOP in his image. Beyond Trump's public efforts to oust Republican incumbents he considers disloyal, he has quietly tried to clear potential GOP threats to his endorsed candidates and encouraged others to run against his enemies."

The Maximum Leader is endorsing candidates running against any Republican who voted to impeach him, most prominently Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who has taken a lead role in the investigation by the House Select Committee on the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. She has already been stripped of her leadership position in the Republican House Caucus and was censured by the Wyoming Republican Party. 

RELATED: "It's basically the Titanic": Republican dissent grows louder as GOP preps for a NeverTrump purge

Trump has moved on around the country, endorsing people he considers loyalists even when they come laden with baggage, as with his endorsement of former NFL star Herschel Walker in next year's Georgia Senate race, even though Walker was accused during a divorce of "physically abusive and extremely threatening behavior," including threatening his ex-wife with a pistol and knives. In the race for Pennsylvania's open Senate seat, Trump endorsed Sean Parnell despite similar allegations in a divorce filing that Parnell was physically abusive to his wife and children. (Parnell recently suspended his campaign  after a judge awarded his ex-wife primary physical custody and sole legal custody of their children.)

Back in Georgia, the Maximum Leader has also endorsed former Sen. David Perdue to run against Kemp in the Republican primary for governor. Perdue lost his race for re-election to the Senate to Democrat Jon Ossoff in a January runoff. 

In Alabama, Trump is said to be considering backing a challenger to Republican Gov. Kay Ivey, in retaliation for her decision denying his request to hold a 2020 campaign rally at the USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park. He is also backing Rep. Mo Brooks in his campaign for the open Senate seat in Alabama. Brooks has been a fierce backer of Trump and a super-spreader of the Big Lie, and appeared with the Maximum Leader at his Jan. 6 rally on the Ellipse, where he helped rile up the crowd before the assault on the Capitol.

Possibly the best thing that ever happened to Fox News was Twitter's permanent suspension of Trump's account two days after the assault on the Capitol. With the Maximum Leader no longer able to address his followers directly, he became dependent on Fox as his chief propaganda arm.

It happened just in time, because after Fox News became the first network to announce that Biden had won the state of Arizona in the November election, many Fox viewers became so angry that they had fled almost immediately to even further-right outlets such as Newsmax and the OAN network. On Dec. 8, 2020, Newsmax achieved a ratings win over Fox News for the first time, when "Greg Kelly Reports" on Newsmax beat "The Story with Martha MacCallum" on Fox in the 7 p.m. news slot. By March of this year, a public opinion poll by Fabrizio, Lee & Associates showed that Fox had lost viewers to both Newsmax and OAN, although the network remained far ahead of both right-wing rivals in the overall ratings. 

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Panicked at the prospect of losing the Trump base, Fox News threw itself into the arms of the Maximum Leader and unleashed its dogs, encouraging its star evening hosts to go all-in on spreading the Big Lie that Trump was the "true" winner of the 2020 election. Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham took their shows even further to the right than usual. Carlson produced a special called "Patriot Purge," which premiered in early November on the network's new streaming service, Fox Nation. The three-part series attempts to make the case for the entirely concocted premise that the Capitol assault was not carried out by Trump supporters but was a "false flag" operation run by the FBI, antifa and other shadowy forces.

Most recently, there was the release of text messages sent to Mark Meadows by Fox stars Hannity, Ingraham and "Fox & Friends" host Brian Kilmeade, asking the then-White House chief of staff to get Trump to call off the insurrection and send his followers home. After that news hit the headlines, the Fox hosts reacted like they'd been bitten by a rabid hedgehog, denying that their texts had said what they said and pledging lifetime fealty to the Maximum Leader. 

Two prominent figures in the world of Fox News recently resigned in protest of Carlson's "Patriot Purge" series: Jonah Goldberg and Stephen Hayes. Last Sunday, Fox host Chris Wallace announced he was leaving the network for CNN's new streaming service, CNN+. But none of the three really left of their own accord. They were purged. They weren't sufficiently Trumpian. In a Wednesday column, Goldberg said he was leaving because he couldn't take the lies and hypocrisy, describing a culture within the network where Fox hosts would "say one thing to my face or in my presence and another thing when the cameras and microphones were flipped on." Everyone at Fox News knew what had happened on Jan. 6, Goldberg implied. It was their lies "over the 11 months that followed" that drove him out.   

This is what a cultural revolution looks like. First comes a purge of all opponents or even doubters of the Maximum Leader, followed by a purification of the Party in his name. In China, the Cultural Revolution lasted from 1966 until the death of Mao Zedong in 1976 and was aimed at removing Mao's rivals in the Party, government, schools and workplaces. Mao insisted that those disloyal to the Party should be removed by violent class struggle, symbolized by his call to "bombard the headquarters," including local government buildings, party headquarters, schools and colleges. Books that were determined to run counter to Mao's teachings were burned. Scholars, professors and government bureaucrats were sent into what amounted to in-country exile in re-education and work camps. 

All you have to do is subtract the word "camps" to describe what the Republican Party is doing right now around this country. They are banning books in Texas and elsewhere. They are collecting petitions to run recall elections against school board members guilty of teaching what they see as "anti-white" subjects in schools, by which they mean the actual history of slavery, segregation and Jim Crow. In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis just proposed an "anti-Woke" law allowing parents to sue local school boards if they feel their children are being taught the mythical subject "critical race theory." That proposal is based on the Texas anti-abortion law that recently went into effect allowing random citizens to sue anyone who facilitates an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. In both Florida and Texas, what amounts to cadres of vigilantes are being established to enforce the Party's will on the populace — in this case, the will of the Republican Party.

RELATED: Ron DeSantis escalates his authoritarian purge: GOP bounty hunters are the next frontier

Every time a Republican stands up and points out that the emperor has no clothes, the Party destroys him or her. Which makes you wonder, how long will it be before you don't have to be a Republican to be purged and have your career destroyed? When will it come to pass that if you speak anti-Trump thoughts or write anti-Trump articles or attend anti-Trump rallies or even — God help us — cast anti-Trump votes, you will put yourself in danger of losing your job?

Mao unleashed the Cultural Revolution to destroy naysayers and enemies of the Party. Stalin created the Gulag as an instrument of political repression to accomplish the same thing. More than 18 million supposed opponents of the Communist Party were consigned to the camps between 1930 and 1953, the year of Stalin's death. 

Notice that in both cases, the Maximum Leader had to die himself before his campaign of political repression, punishment and death was ended.

Both the Soviet Union and China had to go through a process of self-correction after decades of political repression, thought control, re-education and murder. The Russian self-correction eventually led to the bankruptcy and breakup of the Soviet Union. The self-correction in China led to the abandonment of communism in all but name and the remaking of the country as a capitalist economy under centralized state control. Neither country today looks anything like it looked under the Maximum Leaders who brought them down.

In this country, the Republican Party is "Republican" in name only and seems incapable of self-correction. It would have to throw off the bonds of Donald Trump and his lies in order to even begin to come to its senses. It may be the case that there are doubters in the Party ranks, or people who not only should know better but do know better. But unless they can raise objections without facing political death, the Republican Party's cultural revolution will continue, if past is prologue, until the Maximum Leader dies. 

More from Lucian K. Truscott IV on the state of America:

By Lucian K. Truscott IV

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist and screenwriter. He has covered stories such as Watergate, the Stonewall riots and wars in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels and several unsuccessful motion pictures. He has three children, lives in rural Pennsylvania and spends his time Worrying About the State of Our Nation and madly scribbling in a so-far fruitless attempt to Make Things Better. You can read his daily columns at and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

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Commentary Cultural Revolution Donald Trump Mao Zedong Republicans