We Are Not Just in Trouble, We're in Danger
The Michigan militia plot to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer and put her “on trial” or just shoot her may seem like far-fetched lunacy by a few whackos nipped in the bud by alert FBI agents. But I think it’s a warning about the physical dangers faced by Americans as we approach the election.
The willingness of many Michigan right-wingers to threaten elected officials with guns was on display in April and May, when protesters armed with assault rifles entered the State Capitol. During the second demonstration, signs compared Whitmer to Hitler and others read “Tyrants Get the Rope”. Before the third demonstration on May 14, private Facebook groups threatened violence against Whitmer and other lawmakers.
The existence of armed right-wing anti-government extremists willing to kill is nothing new, at least since Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols blew up the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City in 1995, murdering 168 people. The Department of Homeland Security, a bastion of Trump appointees, believes that “white supremacist extremists ... will pose the most persistent and lethal threat” to our national security.
We have had dirty presidential politics since our founding. But never has a President openly and repeatedly encouraged supporters to take up arms against his deplorable enemies.
But these isolated groups are not working alone any more. They are being encouraged by FOX News and by the President. Kyle Rittenhouse illegally acquired an assault rifle, traveled from Illinois to Kenosha, Wisconsin, and murdered two people during a demonstration about the police killing of Jacob Blake. He has been charged with homicide. Yet FOX News hosts Tucker Carlson said Rittenhouse was maintaining “order when no one else would”, and Jeanine Pirro said he was “innocent”, an “all-American” being demonized.
Trump tweeted “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” on April 17, and less than two weeks later, armed protesters appeared at the State Capitol. He called the protesters “very good people” the day after that incident, reminiscent of his comments about white supremacists in Charlottesville. He supported Rittenhouse, saying “he probably would have been killed” if he had not defended himself, and refused to condemn vigilantes. He famously refused to condemn white supremacists during his debate with Joe Biden.
In the background, in no longer dark corners of the internet, QAnon worshipers encourage each other to believe that Democrats are baby-eating monsters. In August, Trump offered them high praise: “I’ve heard these are people that love our country”, and congratulated himself on their belief that he is central to saving America from cannibals. Then he called Kamala Harris a “monster”, far beyond a bad or incompetent politician, but exactly the Halloween caricature that QAnon claims.
The President tells us at every chance that these Democratic monsters are actively trying to steal the election, because only their traitorous plotting could prevent him from winning the election.
August 17 in Wisconsin: “The only way we're going to lose this election is if the election is rigged”.
August 19 in Washington: Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany would not give an answer to this question, asked by two different reporters: “Does the President believe there is any circumstance under which he could lose the election fairly?”
August 24 at the Republican National Convention: “The only way they can take this election away from us is if this is a rigged election.”
September 12 in Nevada: “The Democrats are trying to rig this election, because it’s the only way they’re going to win.”
September 15 on “Fox and Friends” about Nevada voting and Governor Steve Sisolak: “I’m winning that state easily, but the one thing we can’t beat, if they cheat on the ballots. Now he will cheat on the ballots, I have no doubt about it.”
September 29 at the Cleveland debate: “He will destroy this country.”
Not just Trump, but the Republican Party in its most official and public role at their national convention. The opening speaker, Charlie Kirk, said that Democrats “want to destroy this country and everything that we have fought for and hold dear.”
The gun-waving McKloskeys: “Your family will not be safe in the radical Democrats’ America.”
Kimberly Guilfoyle: Democrats “want to destroy America”.
Donald Trump, Jr.: The election is a choice between “church, work and school” against “rioting, looting and vandalism.
Despite months of polling results and nearly constant reports in the media about those results, Republicans are convinced that Trump will win the election. The Gallup survey in the middle of September showed that 44% of Republicans said Trump would definitely win, and 46% said he would probably win, leaving only 10% who believe the polls that show Biden with a sizable lead.
How could that be? Kevin Williamson in the National Review blames a variety of conservative media figures who have been predicting a Trump landslide win, which he labels “the bull peddled by the entertainment wing of the conservative movement”. These Trump entertainers are setting up their fans for supreme disappointment.
We have had dirty presidential politics since our founding. But never has a President openly and repeatedly encouraged supporters to take up arms against his deplorable enemies. These enemies are trying to “Hurt the Bible. Hurt God.” They would destroy America and eat babies, in the event they steal the election. The only evidence anyone needs before attacking these inhuman monsters: if Trump doesn't win, which Nate Silver estimates is by far the most likely outcome.
Now what could be more understandable than a brave American who loves his country, listens carefully to FOX News and talk radio, and believes what the President says, deciding to load his gun to defend America. That would be stupid, illegal, traitorous, perhaps insane. But every day more likely.
Taking Back Our Lives