Don't let your guard down: MAGA is still plotting

Right-wing foot soldiers fall back as the generals in the GOP ramp up eliminationist rhetoric

By Chauncey DeVega

Senior Writer

Published June 16, 2023 5:45AM (EDT)

Armed supporters of President Trump chant during a protest on January 6, 2021 in Salem, Oregon. (Nathan Howard/Getty Images)
Armed supporters of President Trump chant during a protest on January 6, 2021 in Salem, Oregon. (Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

On Tuesday, the traitor ex-president Donald Trump was arraigned and arrested at a federal courthouse in Miami for allegedly violating the Espionage Act. Ignoring the commands of Trump and acolytes, a horde of MAGA warriors did not descend upon Miami like Marvel superheroes the Avengers to save their Great Leader from some imagined "deep state" or other fictitious villains.

Writing at MSNBC, Zeeshan Aleem describes what actually took place, a pitiful scene that suggests Trump's power and command over his most loyal and militant followers may in fact be weakening:

Well, we heard a lot of fighting words, but we didn't see a lot of soldiers. Trump's arraignments could've been the first signs of a popular or militant pro-Trump uprising in response to the criminal justice system. Trump has framed his charges incessantly as a "witch hunt" that will ultimately result in persecution of his own supporters. "In the end, they're not coming after me. They're coming after you — and I'm just standing in their way," Trump said during a speech in Georgia on Saturday. Yet, the signs of such a mass rebellion so far are faint. 

There are other reasons which explain why there were not more Trump supporters at the federal courthouse in Miami. These include a fear by his followers of the FBI and other law enforcement, that some of the most dangerous leaders and others in the right-wing militia and larger paramilitary movement were arrested in the aftermath of Jan. 6, and that so-called "lone wolves" including mass shooters and other right-wing terrorists and malign actors are choosing their moment to launch attacks and therefore view large gatherings as putting them and their plans at risk. Ultimately, we must be very careful not to infer too much from what took place in Miami on Tuesday and erroneously conclude that the dangers of violence and terrorism from the Trumpists and other members of the white right and neofascist movement are somehow diminished or spent – when, in fact, such an incorrect conclusion is exactly what such malign actors desire.

Unfortunately, at this point, seven years into the Age of Trump, too many among the mainstream news media and other members of the political class continue to believe, contrary to the evidence, that Donald Trump somehow conquered, took over, or manipulated the Republican Party into giving him power against its will.

To that point, law enforcement and other experts have continued to warn that neofascists, white supremacists, and other right-wing "extremists" pose the greatest threat to the country's domestic safety and security. Public opinion polls and other research show that a plurality, if not a majority, of Republicans (and especially Trump voters) are at the least sympathetic to the idea of political violence to get and keep power or actually full-on support and would participate in such actions including a coup and a second civil war to remove President Biden from office and to stop the "liberal agenda" in order to "save" "traditional American values." Republican presidential primary candidate Ron DeSantis, for example, signaled this with his recent threats and promise to "destroy leftism." Trump, too, has made political violence in the form of a "final battle", and a promise to engage in acts of revenge and retribution for the MAGA movement, a central part of his 2024 presidential campaign.

In one of the most recent examples of the MAGA movement's escalating threats of violence, several hours after his arraignment on Tuesday, the ex-president traveled to his golf resort in New Jersey where he proceeded to tell a select group of his supporters the lie that "persecution is being done by the same weaponized agencies that for seven years have been running illegal psychological warfare campaigns against the American people, much as if they were trying to destabilize a foreign country."

As Trump's legal problems have escalated, he has increasingly used language which frames the rule of law in a democracy and his being held accountable for his many obvious crimes as a type of "warfare" being waged against him personally, and by implication, his followers. In fundraising emails and other communications, Trump has repeatedly mentioned his family and "God" and "country" and "patriotism "and how he is "suffering" and being "persecuted" because he is a brave defender of "real America," i.e. White right-wing Christians and "red state" America. 

These emails also depict an America that is on the verge of some type of Stalinist or Maoist totalitarian regime under President Biden. Trump's emails deploy threatening language that is designed to trigger death anxieties and retaliatory eliminationist violence:

The Left would gladly destroy every single American value of liberty, justice, and the rule of law in order to remain in power and stop YOU from having a say over your own government.

That's why I continue to say that 2024 truly is the final battle.

Either we win. Or we lose more than just an election… we lose our country.

Trump's emails conflate his criminal interests and fascist demagoguery with those of "the people." Violence is, therefore, necessary and reasonable — even unavoidable — in such an existential struggle:

The price to save our country is high in Crooked Joe's America: vicious attacks, endless witch hunts, and politically charged indictments and arrests.

But if this is the cost to see our mission through to the end, to restore our free Republic, and to revive the greatest country in the history of the world, then it's a price I'm willing to pay.

You see, Biden, the radical Democrats, and the Deep State all believed that after Soros' hand-picked state prosecutor failed to break us, that this federal indictment would finally bring our movement to its knees.

The truth is, I could walk into the courthouse tomorrow, throw in the towel, denounce our mission to save America, and end our 2024 campaign, and magically, the charges would disappear.

But rest assured, Friend, I will NEVER, EVER SURRENDER our country to the Left's tyranny!

In perhaps his most extreme statement in recent memory — if not ever — Donald Trump is now telling his followers that he is willing to die for "the movement" as a type of MAGA martyr:

If I were to drop out, what precedent would that set going forward? Presidents would be decided by extortion, not by elections.

You cannot plead with people who are holding your freedom and justice hostage.

As the age-old saying goes, "I would rather die on my feet than live on my knees."

Conspiracist and failed Republican candidate for Arizona governor Kari Lake even went so far as to intimate a threat of direct violence during a meeting of Republicans last Friday:

If you want to get to President Trump, you're going to have to go through me, and you're going to have to go through 75 million Americans just like me. And I'm going to tell you, most of us are card-carrying members of the NRA [National Rifle Association]. That's not a threat – that's a public service announcement.

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In a critically important new essay at Vice, David Gilbert writes: 

In what is becoming a now all-too-familiar trend, former President Donald Trump's far-right supporters have threatened civil war after news broke Thursday that the former president was indicted for allegedly taking classified documents from the White House without permission.

"We need to start killing these traitorous fuckstains," wrote one Trump supporter on The Donald, a rabidly pro-Trump message board that played a key role in planning the January 6 attack on the Capitol. Another user added: "It's not gonna stop until bodies start stacking up. We are not civilly represented anymore and they'll come for us next. Some of us, they already have."… Trump announced the news himself on Truth Social, writing that he had been indicted in the "Boxes Hoax" case, as he put it, and said he would be arraigned on Tuesday at Florida Southern District Courthouse in Miami. Within minutes, his supporters lit up social media platforms with violent threats and calls for civil war, according to research from VICE News and Advance Democracy, a nonpartisan think tank that tracks online extremism.

Trump supporters are making specific threats too. In one post on The Donald titled, "A little bit about Merrick Garland, his wife, his daughters," a user shared a link to an article about the attorney general's children.

Under the post, another user replied: "His children are fair game as far as I'm concerned."

In a post about the special counsel conducting the probe, one user on The Donald wrote: "Jack Smith should be arrested the minute he steps foot in the red state of Florida."

In addition to threats of violence against lawmakers and politicians, many were also calling for a civil war.

"Perhaps it's time for that Civil War that the damn DemoKKKrats have been trying to start for years now," a member of The Donald wrote. Another, referencing former President Barack Obama and former secretary of State Hillary Clinton, said: "FACT: OUR FOREFATHERS WOULD HAVE HUNG THESE TWO FOR TREASON…"

Others on similar social media platforms made general calls for an armed uprising.

These threats of violence in response to Donald Trump's arraignment(s) and arrest(s) are part of a much larger dynamic in this era of ascendant American neofascism where right-wing violence, threats, intimidation, and terrorism have become increasingly normalized. Contrary to what many among the mainstream news media, political class and general public would like to believe, such anti-democratic beliefs, values, and pathological behavior are not outliers or aberrations among the Republican Party and larger "conservative" movement and right-wing.

This all means that it is almost guaranteed that there will be more right-wing political violence, terrorism, blood spilled, and human suffering in America during the Age of Trump and the fascist nightmare.

Unfortunately, at this point, seven years into the Age of Trump, too many among the mainstream news media and other members of the political class continue to believe, contrary to the evidence, that Donald Trump somehow conquered, took over, or manipulated the Republican Party into giving him power against its will. By implication, once Trump is gone the "traditional" and "good Republicans" can take over again, and "normalcy" and "business as usual" can return to American politics and life because all of this is an aberration, a blip, or exceptional and unpredictable happening.

For example, last Monday Nicole Wallace, a former communications staffer in George W. Bush's White House, said this during a conversation on her MSNBC show "Deadline": 

It is surreal to have this conversation in private having worked in the government. It is indescribable to have it on live TV and to have been a part of the party that is now part of the rot and threat to domestic security in the United States. I remember, and I think based on his early messages as a candidate, he won't mind if I disclose this for the first time. I remember talking to Chris Christie after Trump said, 'Stand back and stand by,' to the Proud Boys. He said, 'All of us were trying to get him to take it back.' I said, 'What's wrong with him? It was clearly a gaff.' And as I was thinking of him explaining why Trump wouldn't do it. I understood not just Trump's enthusiasm for the support of anyone and everyone, including David Duke, but Trump's insatiable appetite for violence carried out in his name. And what it has wrought, that was the fall of 2016, what it has brought is the entire Republican Party to its hands and knees. 

Such a conclusion is incorrect, grossly so.

Today's Republican Party and "conservative" movement were not "brought to their knees" by Donald Trump and the MAGA movement and their lust for violence and corrupt power. In reality, Trump and his MAGA cult empowered the Republicans and "conservatives" to stand up, fight, and view violence and terrorism and creating a larger climate of intimidation and fear as viable, if not preferable, ways of getting, keeping, and expanding their political and social power. Trump gave modern Republicans permission and encouragement to be their true selves, which in our current context means destroying the country's multiracial pluralistic democracy.

This all means that it is almost guaranteed that there will be more right-wing political violence, terrorism, blood spilled, and human suffering in America during the Age of Trump and the fascist nightmare. Instead of sounding that alarm, the mainstream news media and political class mostly choose to talk about right-wing political violence as something in the future, a hypothetical or possibility instead of as an already present fact and reality.

Literally, be it Charlottesville, the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, Buffalo, El Paso, Pittsburgh, Allen, Texas, and other acts of recent right-wing violence and terrorism across the country, many people are dead and many more have been injured and maimed, their lives changed in horrible ways and who would otherwise be alive, if not for what Donald Trump and his MAGA movement unleashed

But Trumpism and American neofascism are much bigger and more powerful than any one leader. Wish-casting and fantasies of willfully forgetting or national amnesia will not bring people back to life, heal the wounds of the living, or make families and communities whole and healthy after they have been negatively impacted by right-wing violence and thuggery. It's way past time to wake up to the clear and present threat.

By Chauncey DeVega

Chauncey DeVega is a senior politics writer for Salon. His essays can also be found at He also hosts a weekly podcast, The Chauncey DeVega Show. Chauncey can be followed on Twitter and Facebook.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Civil War Commentary Democracy Crisis Donald Trump Espionage Act Fascism Jan. 6 Right-wing Terrorism