|Oh no, they're talking about|
Trumpism (or MAGA, Make America Great Again) is a far-right ideology based on Donald Trump's personality cult, policies, and political activities. Trumpism has been categorized by political analysts as a fascist ideology and cult due to its far-right, authoritarian, and anti-intellectual elements as well as its hostility to outsiders, penchant for violence, vicious scapegoating of marginalized communities, dehumanization of people whom they deem undesirable or irredeemable, and its extreme gatekeeping which demonizes all dissent even from like-minded ideologues.
Trumpism has emerged as a significant force and movement in American politics, essentially taking over the Republican Party. This rise in power of the movement can be attributed to a range of factors, but the most significant are xenophobia, economic dissatisfaction brought about by neoliberalism, Fundamentalist Christian fanaticism, and misinformation regarding political and scientific news.
A September 2022 poll showed that 42 percent of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents (clumped together as a single category) identified with the term "MAGA Republican", and 58 percent rejected the term. This could indicate an outsized effect on the Republican Party compared to how large the core pro-Trump movement actually is versus the wider base of Republican voters.
Trumpism first emerged as a fluid ideology in 2016, when Trump was running as a presidential candidate. During this time, Trump cultivated an enormous fanbase by tapping into their dissatisfaction and appeals using a mixture of populism, xenophobia, and appealing to a mythical past.
Trumpism quickly spread among American citizens, largely amongst Christian, lower- to middle-class white families. Many Trump supporters viewed America as under siege from immigrants, rather than correctly attributing their suffering to tax cuts for the rich and general austerity measures. Trumpism has a strong element of racism within its ideology, mostly viewing the 1950s and early 1960s as the good old days for the United States.
Trumpism has deep roots in American political history, dating all the way back to the white supremacist and nativist politics of Andrew Jackson and his ilk. Like Trumpism, Jacksonism saw a deep anti-intellectualism and populist rejection of traditional democratic institutions that led to the rejection of the orders of the United States Supreme Court and the tragic case of ethnic cleansing and genocide we today know as the Trail of Tears. This was where almost the entirety of the Cherokee people were forced to march in freezing conditions out of their ancestral homeland to virtual wasteland in what is now Oklahoma.[note 1]
Walter Russel Mead explained the parallels thusly:
For Washington’s political class, Mead provided an answer to explain the otherwise perplexing populist appeal of the brash billionaire. Jacksonianism, as Mead viewed it, was exactly the historical precedent to explain Trump, marrying grass-roots disdain for elites, deep suspicion of overseas entanglements—and obsession with America power and sovereignty. “He is not the second coming of Andrew Jackson,” Mead said when we talked on the eve of Trump’s first anniversary in office this weekend. “But there was such a hunger in America for a Jacksonian figure that people were willing to project a lot of qualities onto this sort of very unlikely Queens real estate developer who becomes the folk hero of Americans who hate New York and are suspicious of Big Business.”
Trumpism is ideologically the synthesis of three separate but related reactionary trends in American political history: ethnonationalism as exhibited by the Jacksonians and the Know Nothing Party, politicized religion as exhibited by the Religious Right, and racism as exhibited by the Ku Klux Klan and the Neo-Confederates.
Besides Jacksonianism, another root of the Trumpist movement is the right-wing populism of Pat Buchanan and Ross Perot. In 1992 Perot railed against the neoliberal NAFTA trade deal as "sucking" American jobs to Mexico and Canada and made it the signature issue of his presidential campaign. Buchanan likewise ran for POTUS three times in the 1990s, and regularly espoused a protectionist and nationalist agenda.
The Civil Rights Movement and the end of Jim Crow led Southern racists[note 2] into the arms of the Republican Party.[note 3] In the modern day illegal immigration and supposed voter fraud were two of the hot-button racialized issues that the GOP used to court the racist vote. GOP voter suppression measures have also helped to maintain a white supremacist agenda. American politics itself has a heavily racialized component to it. To quote the Berlin Social Sciences Center:
Appeals to the issue of race are a staple of contemporary American politics as all politicians seek to mobilize voters who do not consider themselves to be racist.
Trumpists in particular have been very openly racist. Questioning the native-born citizenship of Barack Obama, the only African-American president of the United States to date, labelling Hispanic-Americans as "rapists" and "murderers", and equating Islam to DAESH have all been the bread and butter of Trumpist rhetoric.
Effects on politics
|+||This section requires expansion.|
Trumpism has poisoned American political discourse and the minds of his own supporters. Trumpism relies on anti-intellectualism and misinformation to maintain its grip and strength in the public sphere. Social media allows fake news to be spread far and wide, with something simple being spread to millions in a short amount of time.
Trumpism has had a significantly negative and strong impact on politics, both in America and abroad. Trumpism has inspired or at least dovetailed with somewhat similar movements outside the United States, particularly in Brazil via Jair Bolsonaro, Canada, Italy via Silvio Berlusconi (who foreshadowed Trump in many ways), South Korea via Yoon Suk Yeol, Hungary via Viktor Orban (who also foreshadowed Trump), Turkey via Recep Tayyip Erdogan (also foreshadowed Trump), Iran, India via Narendra Modi, Israel via Benjamin Netanyahu, Japan via Shinzo Abe, Taiwan, and Poland via Jarosław Kaczyński.
Trumpism also embraces a blaming the victim narrative, from the BLM protestors to fabricated claims of rape against women committed by immigrants to The Great Replacement. Trumpism has a heavy emphasis on paramilitarism, which is what was seen in the 2021 U.S. coup attempt.
Trump himself is not a very Christian man,[note 4] but Christians can and will excuse this as Trump is willing to push the agenda of the Religious Right as a matter of policy. During the 2016 Republican primaries the Religious Right opposed Trump as a matter of course, but after Trump won the 2016 presidential nomination they quickly, and eagerly, switched course, with up to 80% of the Evangelical vote supporting Trump in the general election. Trump has honored the devil's deal that the Religious Right made in supporting him, appointing key members of the Religious Right to prominent positions of government including Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education.
Probably one of the longest-lasting, and most devastating, effects of the ideological devil's deal between the Religious Right and the alt-right is the packing of the judiciary with right-wing activist judges. Indeed it was the activist judges of the Supreme Court of the United States that voted to overturn Roe v. Wade despite precedent.
- Trump — The central figure of this fascist ideology.
- QAnon — Another fascist movement, which is closely related to (and wouldn't exist without) Trumpism
- This wasn't an isolated incident either. See our article on the American Indian Holocaust for further details.
- Previously strong supporters of the Democratic Party
- See our article on the Southern Strategy for more information.
- What with him being a thrice-divorced adulterer, blasphemer, and self-admitted "pussy grabber."
- How did the Republican Party become the party of Trump? New York Times reporter Jeremy Peters says the religious right and social conservatives "got basically everything that they wanted" from Trump's presidency. Peters' new book is Insurgency. by Terry Gross (February 8, 20221:30 PM ET) NPR.
- Sahil Kapur (September 28, 2022). "Poll: Most U.S. Republicans reject 'MAGA' label". Meet The Press Blog, NBC News. Quote: "A total of 42% of Republicans in the U.S. identify as 'MAGA' Republicans, while 58% disavow the term, according to a new national poll by J. Ann Selzer and Grinnell College."
- "The Man Who Put Andrew Jackson in Trump’s Oval Office" - Politico. By Susan B. Glasser on January 22, 2018. Archived.
- "Trumpism is US" - Berlin Social Science Center. Archived.
- "How the Federalist Society Won" - The New Yorker. By Emma Green. Published July 24, 2022.
- "Analysis: Trump's justices decisive in long campaign to overturn Roe v. Wade" - Reuters. Published June 24, 2022. Written by Lawrence Hurley.