Trump’s opponents miss the joy because they only experience the rage. I am a member of a multi-ethnic church in Nashville. It is a refuge from the MAGIC Christianity that is too present where I live, just south of the city, in Franklin. This past Sunday, Walter Simmons, a Franklin-based Black pastor who founded the Franklin Justice and Equity Coalition, spoke to our church, and he related a common experience for those who disagree publicly in MAGIC America. “If you’re not prepared for death threats, don’t live in Franklin,” he said.
He was referring to the experience of racial justice activists in deep red spaces. They feel the wrath of the MAGA mob. If you think you are one of those people who are trying to “destroy our country and our family”, then you don’t see joy, only fury.
Trump’s fans, on the contrary, do not understand the effects of that fury because they mainly experience the joy. For them, the MAGA community is kind and welcoming. For them, supporting Trump is fun. Moreover, the MAGA movement is strongly concentrated in the South, and Southerners see themselves as the most beautiful people in America. To them it seems false to be called “bad” or “cruel”. Cruel? No chance. In their minds, they’re the same people they’ve always been – it’s just that they finally understand how bad. you is And by “you,” again, they often mean the caricatures of people they’ve never met.
In fact, they often don’t even know about the excesses of the Trump movement. Many of them will never know that their progressive neighbors have faced threats and intimidation. And even when they see the movement at its worst, they can’t quite believe it. So January 6th was a false flag. Or it was a “fat resurrection”. There really could not be a violent attempt to overthrow the elected government, because they know these people, or people like them, and they are mostly good people. It must have been a mistake, or an exaggeration, or a trick or a few bad apples. The real crime was the stolen choice.
It is the combination of anger and joy that makes the MAGA enthusiasm so hard to break, but also limits its scope. If you are part of the ever-expanding circle of enemies of the movement, Trump does not appeal to you. You experience his movement as an attack on your life, your choices, your home and even your identity. If you’re part of the core MAGA community, however, even the ruthlessly efficient Ron DeSantis can’t come close to replicating the true Trump experience. Again, the boat parade is a perfect example. It’s one part Battle for the Future of Civilization and one part alcohol cruise.