Experts fear Trump supporters will be dangerous if he loses: 'The last gasp of a dying party’

Experts fear Trump supporters will be dangerous if he loses: 'The last gasp of a dying party’
Charlottesville "Unite the Right" Rally. Far-right Oath Keepers patrol Emancipation Park. Credit: Anthony Crider

The United States has a long history of bitter, divisive presidential elections being followed by gracious concession speeches. But Journalist Andrew Feinberg, in an article published by The Independent on July 7, examines the possibility of far-right violence if Donald Trump loses to Joe Biden in November.

“Even by the hardball standards of American presidential politics,” Feinberg explains, “Trump’s reelection bid stands out in history as the sole example of an incumbent president who is pushing his supporters to view a loss as the end of the republic rather than the end of his political career. This unprecedented strategy is raising concerns among experts on extremism and authoritarianism, and even veterans of Republican politics who say it is likely to result in violence should Trump lose in November.”

Trump is hardly the first U.S. president to play hardball during his reelection campaign. President Richard Nixon, in 1972, slammed Democratic nominee George McGovern unmercifully and was reelected by a landslide. Had Nixon lost to McGovern, however, he would have no doubt congratulated him and moved on; for all his corruption and ruthlessness, Nixon knew when to quit. But as Feinberg points out in his article, Trump’s rhetoric has been historically over-the-top.

“While speaking last Friday at the foot of Mt. Rushmore as part of an official, taxpayer-funded celebration of American independence,” Feinberg notes, “Trump characterized the anti-racist protest movement that has swept the country in recent weeks as ‘a new far-left fascism’ and a ‘left-wing cultural revolution’ that is ‘designed to overthrow the American Revolution’ and ‘would destroy the very civilization that rescued billions from poverty, disease, violence and hunger, and that lifted humanity to new heights of achievement, discovery and progress.’”

Feinberg adds that on July 4, the day after his Mt. Rushmore speech, Trump gave a White House speech in which he railed against “the radical left, the Marxists, the anarchists, the agitators, the looters” and asserted that defeating them in November would be akin to “the process of defeating” the United States’ enemies during World War II.

Brian Klaas, a politics professor at Universal College London in the U.K., told The Independent he “would be surprised if there is not at least some sporadic low-level violence around the election” if Trump loses.

Klaas warned, “In modern American history, there has never been a major mainstream political figure who has argued that his opponents are not legitimate.” And the things that worry Klaas about the hardcore MAGA bass, he told The Independent, include the “high concentration of weapons among Donald Trump’s supporters” and the “steady diet of information that tells them that they are the last defense for America against some conspiracy against them.”

According to Klaas, “People who have really worked themselves up in this vortex of disinformation… and have really gone down the rabbit hole…. may take Trump’s tweets literally and say, ‘OK, they’re my enemies. They’re committing treason, they’re part of the Deep State, and it’s time to be a patriot and stand up against them.’ That would be very, very dangerous.”

Former Republican Rep. Joe Walsh, who was a Tea Party favorite befor he became a Never Trumper, also fears the possibility of violence from the far right if Trump loses. Walsh, interviewed by The Independent, described Trumpism as “the last gasp of a dying party” that will become “even more desperate” if Democrats retake the White House and the Senate in November.

“They will engage in violence,” Walsh warned. “They will engage in trying to stop the machinery of government from even working.”

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