Hamilton Nolan’s observations after witnessing the Million MAGA March in DC this weekend:
These were the shitkickers of America, and those that worshiped them. Nothing about them is hard to understand. If you have seen a high school bully and his crew of friends goading him on, you have encountered this type. What I cannot explain is why this juvenile sort of action movie mentality exerts such a strong hold on so many Americans. Maybe we have a crisis of masculinity, or maybe we are a damaged nation coping poorly with trauma, or maybe this is just our nature, dating back to the early explorers who sailed in to massacre the natives because they could. Maybe all of the above. What I do know is that there is a very powerful undercurrent running just below the surface of mainstream politics right now that can best be described as an overwhelming desire to have a reason to kill everyone on the other side. Perhaps it has been too long since we had a big war that required a draft, and all of that bloodlust is pouring into America itself, like an infection. We had the Communists as enemies, and then we had the terrorists, and now, lacking a distinct boogieman to soak up our aggression, we have thousands and thousands of people who dress up as soldiers and roam the streets of American cities, waiting to attack… whoever. Trump’s achievement has been to remove any real political pretext from our national political feud, leaving only a pile of hate that can be directed at any enemy that’s convenient. Antifascists? Black Lives Matter? Democrats, judges, the FBI, the Board of Elections? All can fit the description of “Enemies who don’t want America to be Great Again.” We left rationality behind a long time ago. Trump has succeeded in building his lunatic army. That was who this day was for.
The good news is that his army is not big enough. Tens of thousands of people showed up for the MAGA march, but most of them were just regular families whose brains have been poisoned by Facebook, or old people whose brains have been poisoned by Fox News. That so many of these people would feel it necessary to travel across the country to march up Constitution Avenue and inform the world that “I’d Rather Get Covid-19 Than Biden 20” is disturbing on a human level, but not cause for undue alarm. They wanted to parade past the Dear Leader’s barricaded hotel and genuflect to its façade, to grovel rather than to fight. The real shitkickers were a minority. If this was Trump’s rallying call for soldiers to rescue him from his electoral fate, it was not a success. The size of the Women’s March held the day after Trump’s inauguration in 2017 made this march look like an intimate gathering of friends, at a mental hospital.