Dispatches Mailbag: The White Supremacist / Christian Nationalism Connection, World War III, and more
When I started DISPATCHES FROM A COLLAPSING STATE in February of 2021 it was for a reason. In the lead-up to the 2016 Election I spent the months prior trying to warn everyone that something incredibly sinister and dangerous was building around the Donald Trump campaign. This was while networks and media outlets were constructing what they believed was a short-term profits windfall before the political system moved along and settled into what many believed was going to be an incredibly boring and probably normalizing first term for Hillary Clinton.
Then, as Trump’s unthinkable presidency careened from one scandal to another, and as officials like Betsy DeVos did everything in their power to accelerate their longterm demolition plans for the federal government, I and others warned that things had entered a new stage. Republicans and conservatives who saw through Trump’s boisterous performance also recognized his utility. By following in his disastrous wake, they were able to pinpoint which institutions - most of them, it turned out - were most ready to fall and were unwilling to offer resistance. This situation presented incredible opportunities. To that end, they built their own movements atop the MAGA structure, furthering radicalizing conspiracy theories for their billionaire donors and creating formidable structures that could carry Trumpism into a future beyond the crazy-making absurdity of the 45th president.
DISPATCHES was launched during that period because what I found was a media landscape unwilling to recognize what was very obviously happening. The Right was very open about what they were doing. A side-effect of building such an operation is having to announce it to anyone ready to hear it, whether that’s through speeches, catered conferences, fundraising drives, podcasts, books, and any medium you could imagine. Instead of listening, or at least offering space to those of us researching and tracking this stuff, the media continued to hedge close to the narrative that Trump himself was the problem and that the election of Joe Biden might, as he had promised, would lead to Republicans coming to their senses and “normalcy” returning.
Personally, it was one of the most frustrating periods of my life. The gaslighting of the pandemic period was bad enough, but also having watched this entire thing play out as I expected it to, including the attempted coup of January 6th, added an extra layer of surrealness and desperation. That, and a corroding media landscape peppered with a dearth of positions and atrociously paying gigs, meant it was time to try something different and stake out on my own.
I say all of this for a couple of reasons. First, I want to say thank you. As we’re about to tackle this GIANT-SIZED mailbag, it felt very humbling once again to have people even care what I have to say about any of this. Even as I’ve researched it and documented it happening for the past seven years (my. god.), and even as things have unfolded this way, I still feel a deep sense of gratitude. I hope my analysis, my podcasts, my videos, and my books have at least helped clarify what is, at first glance, a seemingly inscrutable time. If they have, I hope you will subscribe to DISPATCHES so that you can read what I think is a pretty interesting selection of questions and, also, support my work overall.
But also, as we’ll discuss more in the coming days, the possible indictment of Trump is going to drag us into a new chapter of this crisis. Already Trump is calling for supporters to “protest” and “take back the country,” and as we’ve already seen, when Trump is pressured, whether electorally or legally, his supporters have a tendency to turn toward violence and intimidation. Personally, I’ve seen a spike in just the past day of targeted harassment and threats that is as significant as any I’ve seen in the previous seven years.
Even if there is no violent reaction to his arrest, this will prove to be an increase in tension if it comes to pass. And the GOP, as I’ve documented, is desperate to move beyond Trump while capturing MAGA for itself. This situation is a perfect place to attempt that maneuver, and it means that the party is most certainly not “coming to its senses” anytime soon.
All right, let’s get to this GIANT-SIZED mailbag. Topics include the links between white supremacy and Christian Nationalism, the possibility that we are on the cusp of World War III, and some much-needed pointers on organizing and building movements.
Let’s do it.