The Key to Defeating MAGA is Understanding MAGA

Ripped 'Make America Great Again' sign
Deciphering the Ideological Landscape from their View

Key Topics & Facts:

  • Old guard losing positions of power add to economic discontent and polarization

  • Rural and white Americans looking to take power back at any cost

  • Progressives can govern, unlike Trump’s populist mob

Having largely left Facebook behind over the last couple of years, the occasional visit back can be enlightening. We’ve all had the experience of a flashback “remember when” post bringing up memories (or perhaps our own posts) that we’d just as soon forget. Alas, the internet is written in ink. But occasionally, something pops up as a happy reminder - in my case, a short diatribe I wrote just a couple of weeks before the 2020 election from the loneliness of the COVID quarantine - before the Biden win was won, before the attempt to undo that win on January 6, 2021, before the Dobbs decision overturning Roe v Wade in June of 2022. But strangely enough, it rings true now as the Biden v Trump rematch looms. Here’s pandemic me, almost four years ago, cooped up at the house and very nervous about a Trump re-election, venting on Facebook on September 9, 2020.

I've made no secret of the "side" I've chosen in the current and seemingly-complete political schism - a divide that I must peer across to have contact with a great number of my family and friends. For me, and hopefully for many of you, I've tried to channel my frustration into an effort to understand the other side, as difficult as that has been at a moment of true cognitive dissonance and a daily degradation of norms and decorum.

We've observed a coalescing of effort and growing influence on the left on the part of particular segments of identity amidst the American populace. The long-awaited empowerment of BLM, various LGTBQ groups, American women and others have been celebrated on our side - from within, we celebrate the increasing momentum of these groups as justified and overdue justice, and the diversity amongst American progressives as a source of enlightenment and strength.

Let's wedge ourselves into the shoes of white Americans for a moment - in particular, rural and small-town white folks who generally live amidst and interact on a peer-parity level with only other white folks, and always have. These are, for the most part, normal, hard-working, good people - but their heightened sense and celebration of "tradition" (a.k.a. "the way things have always been"), coupled with a lack of experience in dealing with non-white people on any personal level other than subservience, have generally prevented any true understanding of the concept of white privilege, or the inherent injustices of American history - not only those of the past, but the ways in which they have established the present. They lack the motivation to have ever really considered these concepts, or seen the need to understand them - they are utterly foreign, and thus false.

At a moment when Black Americans are coming together for power, and American women are coming together for power, and LGTBQ Americans are coming together for power, and a myriad of other marginalized groups are doing the same, a great number of white Americans have also chosen to silo up - with Donald Trump as their leader and standard-bearer. By their internal logic, why wouldn't they? Especially with an entire wing of our electronic media amplifying the call of the President for whites to unify and defend their suburban and rural turf by casting these newly-empowered groups and their supporters in their “crumbling and rioting cities” as agitators and traitors? Especially with warnings from the top that our upcoming election - in which their leader is likely to be deposed, their position of cultural control lost along with him -  is already ridden with fraud? A great swath of the white American countryside has been frightened into fear of anarchy and violence eventually aimed directly towards their communities, families and traditions - which they consider analogous with America itself.

I may be stating the obvious here: Trump and his loyal, boisterous mob represents a newly compartmentalized coalescing of the previously unchallenged white American agenda - the same that has ruled our country from its Founding - as it stands separate from the overall modern American experience, in which it faces real competition for dominance for the first time. It can be seen as both a part of and a reaction to the same process by which other disparate segments of the American demographic spectrum are also separating to focus on furthering their own goals and empowerment. Viewed that way, it makes more sense, but is no less frightening - white Americans are the only of these groups with the majority of American governmental structures at their backs. Faced with a perceived decision between an obviously awful leader and the potential loss of all they know and hold dear, they've picked what they consider the lesser of two evils: the awful leader. For Trump supporters, it's not about Trump's personal failings, or any sense of truth, morality or justice - for them, the attempt at an American melting pot has failed, and it's now Us versus Them - in a struggle that could be for all the marbles.