The Scary Reality of the MAGA Movement

A week or so ago, Tom Klingenstein posted a video encouraging Republican voters to come together behind the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump. The video would have gone largely unnoticed had Trump himself not proudly posted it on his Truth Social platform.

The video begins by introducing Klingenstein as a writer, playwright, and investor. On other platforms, Klingenstein refers to himself as an academic and a philanthropist. What Tom Klingenstein is is the manager of a hedge fund who has used his considerable wealth to push far-right extremist ideology. He is a large donor to several far-right groups, including the Claremont Institute, the organization that spawned John Eastman, the attorney who concocted the insane and unconstitutional legal theory that the vice-president, when counting the certified votes from the states, can ignore or dismiss votes he doesn’t like.

Earlier in this election cycle, Klingenstein supported Ron DeSantis. After DeSantis’ campaign imploded, Klingenstein shifted his support (and his money) to Trump. Among other things, the video is an attempt by Klingenstein to get back in Trump’s good graces.

The video itself is disturbing, not only for the content, but for the production quality and apocalyptic tone. If you were to swap out Klingenstein for Joseph Goebbels, and you swapped out “the woke regime” for “Jews and other undesirables,” you would have a video that tracks perfectly with Nazi propaganda. Klingenstein’s awkward look and speech patterns are front and center, with disturbing, often out-of-context images, shown in the background.

The content of Klingenstein’s message is startling and frightening. Klingenstein opens the video by dismissing the notion that voters need to like Trump or that Trump even needs to be a good person or have good character. None of that matters. Republican voters, Klingenstein demands, must get behind Trump because “the woke regime” threatens the American way of life, and won’t stop “until it destroys America.”

“It’s time for Republicans, including those that doubt him (Trump) or even can’t stand him, to get behind him.  The times demand it. We are in a war fighting an enemy of revolutionaries that kick and spit on America. I call our enemy the woke regime or the group quota regime.”

Let’s break down Klingenstein’s opening paragraph.

He claims that Republican must come together to support Trump, even if they doubt him or can’t stand him. This is now what is required of members of the Republican Party. Regardless of their own thoughts or beliefs, they must follow in lock step behind the great leader. “Times demand it.”

Klingenstein apparently does not believe in the Republican Party being a “big tent” party. He expects Republicans of all stripes, from institutionalists to chamber of commerce types, from conservatives to libertarians and to the few remaining progressives, to put their own beliefs aside and support a man that he acknowledges, many of them can’t stand. He expects Republicans to sacrifice their beliefs and morals on the alter of Trump.

Klingenstein goes on to describe the enemy. Who are they? They are revolutionaries who “kick and spit on America.” Ignoring the awkward grammar, Klingenstein calls these people “the woke regime” and “the group quota regime.”

In his phrasing, Klingenstein let’s his mask slip a bit. He’s talking about Democrats, particularly progressives. The people he has labeled “enemies” are his fellow citizens. And he claims Republicans are “at war” with these fellow citizens. This language points to what he has referred to elsewhere as a “cold civil war” that far-right extremists believe is currently underway. And if it’s a war, then violence is justified. That’s slip number one: We’re in a war and violence is an acceptable remedy.

Slip number two comes in his preferred name for the enemies he and his fellow Republicans are fighting, “the group quota regime.” Klingenstein let’s Trump supporters and those he is trying to recruit know that there’s a racial, gender, and sexual preference component to this fight. “We’re not just fighting progressives,” he might as well say. “We’re fighting all supporters of blacks, Hispanics, LGBTQ, and anyone else that isn’t straight and white.” If you doubt this analysis, consider that Klingenstein chose to run video of Barack Obama in the background while he made these comments. Obama hasn’t been President for nearly eight years. Not only is he not running for President, he’s Constitutionally forbidden from running. Yet, Klingenstein’s inclusion accentuates the point he is making. The fight is against “those people.”

The video continues and Klingenstein claims that, although we are at war, we do not have a commander-in-chief. This is an odd claim. He shows video of Biden in the background, but doesn’t explain what he means.

He continues:

“We shouldn’t much care whether our commander-in-chief is a real conservative, whether he is a role model for children, or says lots of silly things, or is modest or dignified. What we should care about is whether he knows we are in a war, knows who the enemy is, and knows how to win. Trump does. His policies are important, but not as important as the rest of him. Trump grasps the essential things. He understands that the group quota regime is evil, and will not stop until it destroys America.”

Really? We shouldn’t care about the character of the man we elect to be President? His politics don’t matter and we shouldn’t care if he spouts nonsense? We shouldn’t care if he is dignified or modest in his manner? None of these things matter?

This line of thinking is reminiscent of Hitler’s road to power. He was viewed as a strange little man, who was gruff in his demeanor and full of unearned confidence. But, as his supporter’s argument went, he understood what needed to be done. He understood who the enemies of the state were and how to defeat them. He was a true patriot, the only one who could make Germany great again.

For Klingenstein, he is willing to overlook all of Trump’s worst traits if it means striking a blow against the group quota regime (i.e. liberals). Does that strike anyone else as a bit shortsighted? Klingenstein is willing to turn the country over to an immodest moron (his description, not mine) as long as that moron defeats those he views as enemies. This is exactly how Hitler came to power.

The video is short on information about electing Trump (or voting at all), instead spending eight-plus minutes laying out justification for fighting and winning the war against wokeism. Journalist, documentarian, and professor at Arizona State University, Steven Beschloss commented on this point:

“Put aside Trump losing the 2020 election and significantly contributing to the GOP losses in 2022. The video never discusses voting or the need for Republicans to win elections; the focus is on fighting and winning a war. It is laced with malice, an unspoken readiness to pursue political violence if that’s what it takes.”

Klingenstein not only admits that Trump is neither dignified nor modest, he turns those negative traits into a positive.

“Trump never apologizes for America, Trump says in effect we have our culture, it’s exceptional and that’s the way we want to keep it. And we won’t keep it if we usher in millions of immigrants with cultures different from our own. Trump knows his job is to protect Americans—and just Americans. Protect them not just from enemies abroad, but from the woke globalists within. He knows America does not need more diversity. It needs more cohesion.”

The idea than Trump wants cohesion is laughable. There has never been a more divisive figure in the White House, according to the American Political Science Association. His entire MO is to divide and conquer. Even in Klingenstein’s one paragraph, he pits immigrants against American citizens, and real “patriotic” Americans against “woke” Americans and non-Americans. Klingenstein’s words betray the fact that Trump is all about dividing people, not bringing them together.

“Trump hates his enemies every bit as much as they hate him. His enemies are America’s enemies,” Klingenstein claims. The video shows images of Gen. Mark Milley and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

These are America’s enemies, an elected senator and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff? Does that sound like someone that loves America? It sounds to me like a petulant child who hates anyone that can get in his way or hold him accountable. It also sounds like someone who conflates himself with America. I have bad news for Mr. Klingenstein. No President is synonymous with America. We elect presidents. They work for America. They do not become America or vice versa.

Klingenstein ends his disturbing video by suggesting that Trump was sent by God to save a United States that is under attack and at risk of losing it’s way.

“Trump, the politician, came seemingly out of the blue. An unconventional commander against an unconventional enemy. Almost inconceivable as President at any other time, Trump fits this turbulent moment to a tee. Is it too much to wonder whether the appearance of this most unconventional man is providential? Lincoln spoke of Americans as the ‘almost chosen people.’ Trump gives us hope, that the God that has never forsaken his ‘almost chosen people,’ will not do so now?”

Honestly, I gagged a little bit while writing that previous paragraph. It sickens me that there are people who believe and claim that Trump–a man his own Chief of Staff, Gen. John Kelly, called the most flawed man he had ever met–was sent by God to save us, making Trump into a savior-like figure. It boggles my mind that any Christian could look at Trump, look at the life he has lived, the things he has said and done, and the things he continues to say and do, and conclude that he is God’s choice to lead our nation. It defies explanation.

University of Michigan Law Professor Barbara McQuade, who recently wrote a book on disinformation entitled Attack from Within: How Disinformation is Sabotaging America, had this to say about Klingenstein’s video:

“Master class in disinformation tactics. Demonizing and scapegoating others, embodying every man yet claiming to be godly in ability, exploiting patriotism, portraying the most extreme parts of the left as equal to the whole, and suggesting that desperate times call for desperate measures.”

I encourage everyone to watch Klingenstein’s video (below). It’s important to see how pundit’s like Klingenstein talk to Trump supporters, and to be able to dissect and understand the tactics being used to convince people that Trump should be back in the White House. It’s also important for people to be able see the way the far-right MAGA movement uses racial dog whistles and justification for violence in their rhetoric. I suspect it will only get worse as we draw closer to the upcoming election.


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