The best way to spot a traitor on social media these days is to find someone who calls themselves a “patriot.” The best way to identify someone who wants to destroy America is to look for a bio or a handle (or even a hat) that says they want to “Make America Great Again.”
It’s easier to spot our enemies than ever before. Sure, some of the fascists of the past once wore brown shirts or swastikas. And those doing Moscow’s work sported red stars or bandanas. But for most of the past century, when those enemies sent their agents to the United States to undermine our nation, they were undercover.
But now they openly identify themselves. They proudly announce it. They will just walk right up and tell you. They call themselves Republicans.
This was illustrated this weekend, when Donald Trump made it crystal clear—once again—that he not only doesn’t support the international order that so many of our forebears fought to create and defend, but he would welcome it if one of America’s vilest enemies attacked our closest friends and allies in Europe. In fact, he said he would “encourage” it.
He also said that as far as he was concerned, Russia could do “whatever the hell they wanted to.” Quite a statement considering their recent history of war crimes in Ukraine and elsewhere.
Trump framed his remarks—which the White House rightly called “appalling and unhinged”—in the context of a statement attacking NATO members who had not fully honored their financial promises to the alliance. In so doing, he again revealed a stunning ignorance about how NATO works and why it exists.
NATO members have committed to contribute 2 percent of GDP toward our collective defense. But they don’t pay dues. NATO is not a protection racket in which the U.S. plays the role of the gangsters who run it.
In fact (and here is Trump’s greatest misunderstanding), NATO plays a vital role defending the national security and interests of the U.S. Its members stepped up to fight alongside us after 9/11. They have been our essential partners, with most of them contributing far more than we have—as a percentage of their GDPs—on aid to Ukraine.
But Trump’s feigned concern about NATO contributions has little to do with the most shocking elements of his stance: his contempt for our allies and his support for our enemies.
While in office as president, Trump made it clear to his inner circle that he intended to leave NATO—by far the most important U.S. alliance—altogether. In fact, those same aides believe it is one of his goals, should he be reelected in November.
He is, of course, known for his close ties to Moscow—although extending an invitation to Moscow to attack Europe is far more dangerous than his past flirtations with Russia, like his infamous 2016 call for Russia to help him out by releasing Hillary Clinton’s emails.
Trump invited Russians into the Oval Office early in his presidency and passed them classified information. He famously took Vladimir Putin’s side versus the U.S. intelligence community in a Helsinki press conference at which he slavered over the Russian leader.
More recently, the MAGA GOP demonstrated that undermining our security (and that of our allies), while advancing Russian interests, is now a core tenet of its politics.
One example is MAGA propagandist Tucker Carlson going to Moscow to gently caress the ego of Putin, while promoting his interests to an American audience. Another is Speaker Mike Johnson’s effort to block further U.S. aid to Ukraine. While some Republican senators have bucked this trend, it is unclear whether their efforts can survive MAGA resistance in the House.
The more than four months of delays in U.S. aid to Kyiv have already resulted in material damage to both Ukraine’s defense efforts—which are, after all, an extension of our own—and to the belief of our friends worldwide that the U.S. can remain a dependable ally in the face of MAGA resistance.
But what is most shocking about Trump’s statements is the fact that tens of millions of Americans are willing to blindly (or worse, knowingly) support them.
The vast majority of leaders of the zombie GOP don’t condemn it and thereby, advertently or otherwise, legitimize and support it. Members of the press daily (intentionally or unintentionally) work to normalize a stance that is clearly treasonous, often by framing it as part of a “partisan debate.” They also enable it by subordinating Trump’s outrageous words, as many did this weekend, to other far less significant political issues—like that of the age of President Joe Biden, which is roughly the same as that of Mr. Trump.
There is a pattern to this. Trump and his MAGA followers do shocking things—things that represent a profound threat to our society—and a combination of spineless GOP leadership, irresponsible media coverage, and the loyalty of millions of Americans who support the MAGA GOP movement quickly act to normalize and accept it.
We saw the same pattern around positions and actions that were far more akin to those of past enemies than anything resembling responsible citizenship. The litany is long and well-known by now.
A coup attempt. The theft of national secrets. Serial obstruction of justice. Efforts to place one man, Trump, above the law. Corruption on an unprecedented scale. Plans to throw opponents into jail or concentration camps. Ending democracy. Promotion of racism, xenophobia, and other deeply divisive forces in American life.
If our historical enemies—from the Nazis to the denizens of the Kremlin—sat down to enumerate the sources of American strength they wished to destroy—domestically and internationally, socially, economically, politically, and militarily—their list of targets would match perfectly with the Trump-MAGA agenda.
That is why—as demented and disqualifying as Trump’s latest rant should be, as much as he should be the target of unceasing public opprobrium—the real problem is not the leader, but the movement.
The greatest threat America faces today is from tens of millions of our own neighbors, friends, and family members who are willing to see the future of our country put in grave jeopardy for reasons of ignorance, anger, and greed.
In other words, as outrageous as Trump’s comments were this past weekend, what is most shocking about them is that they have not and will not result in his immediate rejection by the members of his party. And, therefore, the goal in November must not be just to defeat Trump but to decisively defeat—and thereby begin to destroy—the entire MAGA GOP movement.