I didn’t think it was possible, but Donald Trump is more dangerous than ever.
Last week, he warned America that if he’s indicted, we would face “problems… the likes of which perhaps we’ve never seen.” For a man who already incited one violent riot over his defeat in the 2020 election, a veiled threat of violence (nice democracy there—if you can keep it!) cannot be dismissed as a mere toothless bluff.
But it gets (arguably) worse: Trump has gone full QAnon.
Last Tuesday, Trump reposted a picture of himself on his social media platform Truth Social wearing a Q pin with the words “The Storm is Rising.” As the Associated Press explains, “In QAnon lore, the ‘storm’ refers to Trump’s final victory, when supposedly he will regain power and his opponents will be tried, and potentially executed, on live television.”
Then, at a rally in Youngstown, Ohio, this weekend, Trump’s campaign played a song that was eerily similar to the QAnon song “Wwg1wga,” an abbreviation of the QAnon slogan, “Where we go one, we go all.” As Trump spoke, members of the crowd raised outstretched arms and index fingers in an apparent reference to “one.” To many, the visual—you really have to see it—evoked the Nazi salute. I’ll stop short of that and just say it was weird and disturbing.
To answer his question: Yes—when you falsely accuse innocent people who also happen to be your political rivals.
As we saw in the case of the Proud Boys (“Stand back and stand by!”), Trump will never criticize or alienate even the most-fringe elements of his loyal fan base. Still, something new is afoot, and it’s worth asking why Trump has suddenly ratcheted up his outreach to QAnon.
These two recent developments—Trump’s veiled threat of violence if he’s indicted, and his open embrace of QAnon—are not isolated.
Trump feels threatened—by potential political rivals and by law enforcement. And during his time of need, an army of Q supporters gives him both emotional support and leverage (in the form of potential ground troops).
In recent months, you might have heard the theory that a wounded Vladimir Putin is more desperate to save face now that Ukraine has made an embarrassment of Russia’s attempt to take over the country. Whether this is a reasonable analysis about the danger of humiliating a narcissist with nukes, or a rationalization for appeasement, the metaphor of a cornered animal rings true.
Trump’s penchant for losing elections hasn’t undermined his image as a winner (among his flock) any more than debunked quackery can shake the faith of doomsday cult members.
Trump senses he’s in danger of losing his grip (and maybe his freedom). Like the coward who flexes and blusters to avoid an actual physical confrontation, Trump wants to remind everyone that he has a mob (both in person and online), and they’d be pissed if he is ever held accountable for his actions.
Mobs of blindly loyal supporters have always been a powerful weapon in the hands of a skilled demagogue, but Q fans are potentially more dangerous because of their willingness to embrace delusional conspiracy theories—and their resilience.
It’s amazing that the Q movement is even still around. Its perseverance parallels the political survival of Trump. Trump lost the popular vote in 2016, both houses of Congress in subsequent midterms, and the presidency in 2020—and yet, he remains popular among Republicans. Like chronic bad breath, he just won’t go away.
And yet… Trump’s penchant for losing elections hasn’t undermined his image as a winner (among his flock) any more than debunked quackery can shake the faith of doomsday cult members.
This explains why QAnon supporters and hard-core MAGA devotees aren’t giving up on Trump. But at this point, it’s worth asking any remaining Trump enablers not quaffing his Kool-Aid if they are ready to head for the exits. After all, when Team Normal rationalized supporting Trump as “the lesser of two evils,” they couldn’t have bargained for all of this.
My guess is that anyone who has already been willing to tolerate the Access Hollywood video, the Muslim ban, Charlottesville, the Big Lie, Stop The Steal, and the Jan. 6 Capitol riot may not heed my warnings. Still, every once in a while, it’s worth asking if they are finally ready to jump off the Trump family truckster?
For my Republican friends who dislike Trump but, nevertheless, voted for him twice, your reflexive response may be, “But critical race theory!” or “But AOC!”
I get it. The left’s excesses worry me, too. But are you capable of saying that what Trump is doing goes beyond politics and is essentially damaging our nation?
I know there are numerous legitimate political policy issues and problems in America. For example, immigration is a political issue. Inflation is a political issue. CRT is a political issue. But threatening violence and embracing a conspiracy theory does not qualify as a political issue. Hell, this isn’t even just an issue. This is just crazy—and profoundly dangerous.