One MAGA juror can ruin it all

What happens if any of these trials end up with one or more of these die-hard Trump followers on the jury?

By Heather Digby Parton


Published August 21, 2023 9:00AM (EDT)

A man has a Jesus Christ pin affixed to a Trump 2020 hat during a Make American Great Again rally. (Preston Ehrler/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
A man has a Jesus Christ pin affixed to a Trump 2020 hat during a Make American Great Again rally. (Preston Ehrler/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Over the weekend Florida Governor Ron DeSantis may have sealed his political fate with one recklessly dumb comment. Failing to follow the cardinal rule that a Trump opponent can say a lot of things but must not ever insult Trump supporters, DeSantis told The Florida Standard:

The movement has got to be about what are you trying to achieve on behalf of the American people and that's got to be based in principle, because if you're not rooted in principle, if all we are is listless vessels that's just supposed to follow … whatever happens to come down the pike on Truth Social every morning, that's not going to be a durable movement.

The so-called "listless vessels" were not amused.

DeSantis and his people soon scrambled to defend themselves, saying that he was referring to Trump's congressional supporters, not Real MAGA Americans. But referring to members of Congress as a "movement" seems very sloppy, even if he was actually whining about elected officials. He also said:

I think that we have a stream in our party that views supporting Trump as whether you are a RINO or not. And so you could be the most conservative person since sliced bread, unless you're kissing his rear end, they will somehow call you a RINO.

I guess sliced bread isn't "woke." The Pillsbury doughboy must be so relieved. 

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DeSantis should have known better than to go there even if he did mean to target members of Congress. They're Trump supporters too and they are very popular with the voters he seems determined to woo. He might as well have called them all deplorable and then dropped out of the campaign. It's only a matter of time before somebody starts selling coffee mugs and T-shirts that say "Proud to be a Listless Vessel" on them.

And anyway, if there was ever a group of people, whether in Congress or among the American people, who are anything but listless, it's MAGA Republicans. They may be "vessels" but they are as energetic and enthusiastic a political faction as we have ever seen. They're in it for the fun!

In fact, they're having so much fun that they are living in a full-fledged, delusional fantasy that makes "Barbie" look like "The Sorrow and the Pity." These results from the latest CBS Poll are from another dimension:

Trump far and away leads the GOP field among voters who place top importance on a candidate being "honest and trustworthy."

61% for Trump to the next candidate, DeSantis, at 17%. And it gets even weirder:

More generally, Trump's voters hold him as a source of true information, even more so than other sources, including conservative media figures, religious leaders, and even their own friends and family.

This is classic cult follower behavior. And this isn't some small group, tens of millions of Americans feel that what Donald Trump, one of history's greatest liars, tells them is true even compared to the clergy.

Almost no Republicans have said the indictments have made them less likely to support him.

61% of primary voters also believe that Trump would definitely beat Biden, which the pollsters acknowledge is likely due to the fact that they believe he won the last election and has the advantage of a Bizarro World form of incumbency. They believe his lies that the Trump presidency was the most successful of all time and they want more of it. (His overall record is actually very mixed and his handling of the pandemic, his greatest challenge, was a historic failure.)

77% believe that the indictments against Trump are politically motivated and 62% say they plan to vote for him in the primary. His closest rival is DeSantis at 16%. But according to this article in The Atlantic by Russell Berman, there is some evidence that a change in the way that question is worded challenges the conventional wisdom that Trump is actually being helped by the indictments. Still, taking that into consideration only adds up to about 1.6% points which is trivial considering Trump's lead.

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More relevant is the finding by Sarah Longwell, a Republican strategist who holds frequent focus groups, that GOP primary voters in the main just don't care about Trump's indictments. Almost no Republicans have said the indictments have made them less likely to support him. He is their leader and they believe he's telling the truth when he says he did none of it. I'm afraid that if any of these trials end up with one or more of these fun-loving Trump followers on the jury, it's going to be very hard to shake them out of their belief that he can literally do no wrong.

Trump responded to this poll on his Truth Social platform:

New CBS POLL, just out, has me leading the field by "legendary" numbers. TRUMP 62%, 46 Points above DeSanctimonious (who is crashing like an ailing bird!), Ramaswamy 7%, Pence 5%, Scott 3%, Haley 2%, Sloppy Chris Christy 2%, "Aida" Hutchinson 1%. The public knows who I am & what a successful Presidency I had, with Energy Independence, Strong Borders and Military, Biggest EVER Tax & Regulation Cuts, No Inflation, Strongest Economy in History & much more. I WILL THEREFORE NOT BE DOING THE DEBATES!

He has instead agreed to do a pre-taped interview with former Fox News celebrity Tucker Carlson to be aired on X, formerly known as Twitter, at the same time as the Fox News debate. He's miffed at Fox News for not reporting his best poll numbers and using the "big orange" pictures of him so this is obviously his idea of a clever slap in the face.

The fact that it's pre-taped is interesting for two reasons. If Carlson insisted on it, it may be because he wants to control it instead of letting Trump run off at the mouth as he does in live interviews. If Trump demanded it, it's possible that he has other plans. Apparently, Fox isn't sure that he won't just crash the debate anyway so they've got plans in place to accommodate him in case he does. It is not beyond the realm of possibility.

It's also possible that he'll be sneaking in the back door of the Fulton County Jail to turn himself in for arrest at that time. It's open 24/7. He's got to do it sometime before Friday, and if he's on Twitter and the debate's on Fox, then perhaps he hopes he can keep his "listless vessels" from seeing it live. But he needn't worry. As he said before, he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and not lose any votes. For once he wasn't lying. 

By Heather Digby Parton

Heather Digby Parton, also known as "Digby," is a contributing writer to Salon. She was the winner of the 2014 Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism.

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