The fracturing of the Trump cult

Once he leaves office, Trump will be in a bind. His cult followers love his bellicose rhetoric that targeted and threatened all the people he deemed his enemies. But without the protection that comes with being president, he is much more vulnerable to the consequences of his reckless speech and even he must realize that he cannot continue to speak that way. His short speech decrying violence after the January 6th insurrection at the Capitol was viewed as being forced on him by advisors who warned him that he faced trouble for inciting a riot, especially if another one occurred before the inauguration.

But some of his cult members feel betrayed by what they see as him backing off and not being sufficiently supportive of them.

When he emerged on camera a short while later, tail tucked between his legs, to condemn the rioters whom he himself had incited, and to call for a peaceful transfer of power to President-elect Joe Biden, his base felt betrayed.

“So he basically just sold out the patriots who got rounded up for him,” one person wrote in a 15,000-member pro-Trump Telegram group. “Just wow.”

In online havens for MAGA extremists, including Gab, CloutHub, MeWe, Telegram and far-right message boards such as 8kun, the tone toward Trump is shifting. HuffPost reviewed thousands of messages across these platforms and found that a growing minority of the president’s once-devout backers are now denouncing him and rejecting his recent pleas for peace. Some have called for his arrest or execution, labeling him a “traitor” and a “coward.” Alarmingly, many of those who are irate about Biden’s supposed electoral theft are still plotting to forcibly prevent him from taking office — with or without Trump’s help.

“We don’t follow you,” another Telegram user wrote, addressing Trump, after the president put out his video urging calm and order. “Be quiet and get out of our way.”

Among the recent messages excoriating Trump in dedicated pro-Trump networks: “tbh I hope they hang Trump at this point”; “He deserves what’s coming to him”; “he is literally done he will die in jail”; “Seriously hoping they’ll lock him up or lynch [him]”; “Guy is the biggest cuck ever at this point”; “Can’t wait til the left locks up his bitch ass. Rot in prison.” Several people have proclaimed that at this point, Trump can only redeem himself by declaring martial law to maintain power by force.

“He can promise and call for peace all he likes,” one Gab user wrote. “Won’t make a blind bit of difference.”

There will always be those who stick with him through thick and thin.

Some of his followers who took part in the insurrection were hoping for a pardon but that was always unlikely. For him to pardon them would be to acknowledge that they were acting on his instructions and would increase his own legal jeopardy. He will always act to save his own skin.

Trump is and always has been a paper tiger, getting other to do his dirty work for him while looking out for himself. That has worked for him for quite a while but that road seems to be coming to an end.


  1. says

    Another potential difference between Cheetolini and other actual or wannabe dictators: motivation. Most autocrats believe their ideology is right and will outlive themselves, though the selfish desire for power is there. In Cheetolini’s case, it’s all narcissistic ego. Democracy or dictatorship doesn’t matter to him as long as he gets to be the centre of attention.

  2. sonofrojblake says

    The one thing about the Right that I think is to be generally admired and emulated is their tendency to unity, in contrast to the left. It’s genuinely a good feeling to see them going all Judean People’s Front.

  3. Matt G says

    Trumpism has transcended Trump.

    How can a brain hold so much crazy? So many contradictory notions. I heard one guy organized bus trips for hundreds of people for Jan 6th, but thought the insurrection was BLM and antifa posing as DT supporters.

  4. raven says

    During the Bush and Obama years, there was a civil war in the GOP between the sort of normal people and the Tea Party.
    The Tea Party won.

    Now there is going to be a civil war between the right wing Tea Party types and the even crazier Trumpists/Qanon, Lizard People/ Seditionists.
    It is the crazies versus the even craziers.

    So who will win this one?
    Just based on history, probably the Trumpists/Qanons.
    Don’t forget that Trump did get an astonishing 75 million votes while presiding over a 4 year disaster resulting in an ongoing pandemic, that will kill at least 1/2 million Americans by March.
    They also control a lot of the Red states such as Florida, Texas, the Dakotas, Idaho, etc..

  5. says

    raven (#4) --

    But like any extremists, they’ll start looking for “ideological purity”, shunning, exiling and eradicating those they deem heretics. And when they do, their numbers continue to shrink, not grow.

    A divided republican party could guarantee 8-12 years of democrats, especially if Biden’s four and Harris’s eight years are effective and productive.

  6. says

    Question regarding pardons: Once a person has been pardoned for a crime, can they still call on the fifth amendment to avoid answering questions?

  7. Acolyte of Sagan says

    LykeX, #6: No, they can’t use the fifth because, having been pardoned, they can no longer incriminate themselves for that particular crime.

  8. JM says

    Not only is there the question of Trump dividing the party but there is also the question of the ability of Trump followers and Republicans to work together when they need to.

    One possibility I see for 2022 is that Trump splits the Republican party with his own party. His party gets enough votes that neither Republicans or Democrats have a majority in one or both houses of Congress. The Trumpists sit with the Republicans to control seating but at the price of getting a seat on every committee also. The Trumpists and Republicans argue about every single issue and nobody has the votes to pass anything.

    I also see it being possible that Trumpism is already fading away by 2022. Running your own political group is a lot of work and takes time, money and organization skills. I don’t see Trump or any of his followers managing it. Given a couple of years and Trump could be reduced to occasional speaker gigs among the hard right with a thin following that ends up voting Republican.

  9. blf says

    @6, and a follow-up to @7, Pardons are also considered an admission of guilt. Hence, e.g.. if a pardoned person faces a civil lawsuit over the same(-ish pardoned) matter, the court notes they are guilty of that matter and takes that guilt into account.

  10. Owlmirror says

    Also, also!

    When a pardon eliminates the possibility that the recipient might be prosecuted for a purely federal crime, it also eliminates the ability of that person to invoke the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination in order to avoid testifying about it. Thus, pardon recipients subpoenaed before Congress or a grand jury would be compelled to talk; if they lied or refused to testify, that would be a new crime.

    (While lying during testimony is perjury, and lying to Congress is an additional crime(?), I think blankly refusing to answer might be obstruction of justice)

  11. Who Cares says

    sonofrojblake(#2) wrote:

    The one thing about the Right that I think is to be generally admired and emulated is their tendency to unity, in contrast to the left. It’s genuinely a good feeling to see them going all Judean People’s Front.

    It is a purity purge, Trump did not do what he ordered his movement to do, not a splintering.

  12. JM says

    One thing that occurred to me this morning is that if Trump does form his own party what does he do in 2024? He can’t run for president himself but if he nominates somebody else they get all the news time. He is likely to end up nominating one of his kids, position himself as the party leader and trying to steal all the attention.
    This may play well with his personal loyalists but should be crippling for trying to get votes out of anybody else.

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