Trump words speak to the dark side of his supporters

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Donald Trump is telling us he’s a threat to democracy. We just have to listen.

Earlier this month on his Truth Social website,  Trump threatened to “expel” and “cast out” government workers who oppose his radical views, describing them as a “sick political class” that hates the country. The 2024 election, he wrote, “is our final battle.”

Sound apocalyptic to you?

The former president’s use of the words “cast out” elicited a chorus of praise from his most loyal constituency: white evangelicals. That sort of term is commonly used by evangelicals, Pentecostals and more radical Christians to describe the exorcism of demonic forces. Such demons could be as diverse as sexual to educational to political in nature.

Trump knows that these communities, particularly their older members, harbor beliefs deeply etched in the right-wing anti-communism of the Cold War era. Differing political ideologies – communism, socialism, and Marxism – were seen not only anti-American, but also anti-Christian.

Trump’s continued support from white evangelicals demonstrates how much they embrace his desire to abolish democracy and reconstruct a xenophobic government in their own image. To them, Trump is the answer, their salvation.

For the past several years since Trump was elected, leaders of and subscribers to this political segment of American politics have engaged in the most destructive rhetoric publicly expressed by paranoid citizens since the days of the early McCarthy era. During the height of the Black power era, even President Richard Nixon’s infamous “southern strategy” of the late 1960s and early 1970s, which was able to successfully garner the support of the region by manipulating racist whites fearful and resentful of the civil rights movement, did not seem so overtly hostile in its aims.

The face that minorities have managed to secure Supreme Court seats and live in the White House have driven a number of these “Leave it to Beaver” fans mad with paranoia. In the idolized post-World War II suburbia they pine for, non-white people were absent from the top echelons of power in the U.S.

Trump’s acidic rhetoric is seen as a license by his followers to demean and disregard others just as he does. He portrays others as existential threats, determined to destroy everything his MAGA base admires about America. It signals to his supporters that disregarding basic human restraint and destroying your perceived enemies “by any means necessary” is permissible.

While there are some conservatives who have denounced the tactics of their more extreme brethren, they seem to be isolated voices in the wilderness rather than taken seriously among Republicans as rational voices of reason.

The current Republican Party has become so rapacious in its blind thirst for power, its members seem determined to attack and nullify any movements not conducive to their dystopian agenda. We have already witnessed the party engage in this sort of undemocratic activity with voter suppression and the duplicative election laws they have enacted.

The acrimonious rhetoric of the far right betrays the undeniable truth that they are terrified and aware that their stronghold on the current state of affairs will erode if they are unable to manipulate the laws and future elections. Thus, they are attempting to establish a form of minority rule.

If democracy is to survive, they must be stoped.

Copyright 2023 Elwood Watson, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate

Elwood Watson is a professor of history, Black studies, and gender and sexuality studies at East Tennessee State University. He is also an author and public speaker.