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Desperate Trump's "final battle" is to destroy America. That's not an exaggeration.
In his mind, it's either that or going to prison. It can't be clearer.
A week after Donald Trump channeled Hitler and Mussolini with his “vermin” speech—in which he promised to “root out” the “left-wing thugs,” which he called “vermin”—he sent out a violence-laced post on Truth Social this past weekend that was at once apocalyptic and authoritarian but also quite revealing.
2024 is our final battle. With you at my side, we will demolish the Deep State, we will expel the warmongers from our government, we will drive out the globalists, we will cast out the Communists, Marxists, and Fascists, we will throw off the sick political class that hates our country, we will rout the Fake News Media, we will evict Joe Biden from the White House, and we will FINISH THE JOB ONCE AND FOR ALL!
It had all the horrendous exterminationist language of the vermin speech—”demolish,” “expel,” “cast out,” “throw off” and “rout”. And it is also a plea to his followers, many of whom are Christian nationalists or followers of a plethora of end-time conspiracy theories, or both. It’s the “final battle,” he told them, an armageddon of sorts—wording that gets them completely engaged—and he needs them “at my side.”
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But this is also defendant Trump’s final battle for his freedom, and he was admitting it and asking for help from his massive cult following. He’s been in and out of court many times now, and, in his increasingly addled mind, he’s been thoroughly humiliated by prosecutors and judges who’ve put him in his place. The process has made vividly clear to him the likely ramifications. According to Rolling Stone, Trump has even fretted in the presence of his lawyers and confidantes about the possibility of prison, asking what it would be like.
For Trump, recent months have surely been like the Obama roast at the 2011 White House Correspondents Dinner—the kind of humiliation that spurs him to get revenge. He’s out of power, and he’s been made to feel very small, and it’s only going to get worse next year. He’s looking at the handwriting on the wall through his paranoid filter: They’re going to put him in prison and take away his businesses, his real estate, everything.
Combine that with his mental acuity in decline—as he’s displayed several times in thinking former President Obama is the person he’s running against and confusing Jeb Bush and George W. Bush, among other weird moments—and you have someone who is that much more desperate and delusional.
Trump sees a five-alarm fire, and he’s going for broke. While on the one hand, he is fervently trying to gain power again and transform America into a dictatorship, per Project 2025, in which he squashes the cases against him and weaponizes the government against his perceived enemies, Trump also seems to be planning for the possibility of losing the election.
Let’s first be clear that we’re talking about Trump here—and a Trump in mental decline—so don’t read too much into the word “planning.” Again, this is a desperate person grasping at things, but one who’s had good instincts about what works on those immersed in his cult. In the event he loses the election, he knows he can’t attempt to pardon himself or have state trials pushed off that are already likely to drag on past the election. But he still has his MAGA movement, which could wreak havoc—if he can get them motivated.
Curiously, while the MAGA base is supporting him fervently in the polls (and polling is a problem, and even he knows it can’t be relied upon), they’re not showing the passion by putting their bodies on the line for him—not the way they used to, camping out in lines to see him. He’s not getting the numbers he used to get at his larger rallies, which now often show venues with empty seats, and there have been reports at some events of only “hundreds” of supporters. There’s also his campaign’s use of smaller venues that they can pack, like high school gyms.
Trump’s campaign says it has often opted for smaller “retail politics” types of events, perhaps with his campaign knowing they can’t fill large venues a lot of the time. There have not been massive protests at his court appearances, where anti-Trump protestors have even often outnumbered pro-Trump protesters.
Like any narcissist, Trump is very sensitive to his followers’ depth of commitment. Trump is ramping up the toxic fear, pushing the limits entirely in exploiting hate and bigotry, pointing to the enemies “within the confines of our country,” in the hopes of motivating that base to come to his defense and do whatever it takes to defend him, no matter what happens in the election.
The historian and expert on authoritarianism, Ruth Ben-Ghiat, explains how Trump is conditioning people to accept and even embrace violence as the only right thing to do.
[H]e conjures existential threats to the nation from non-White immigrants and an expanding cast of internal enemies, calls the thugs who are in prison for assaulting the Capitol on Jan. 6 "political prisoners," and praises autocrats such as Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin who depend on propaganda, corruption, and repression to stay in power.
All of this is part of his effort to re-educate Americans to see violence as justified, patriotic, and even morally righteous.
And she makes comparisons to fascists in history:
But to get people to lose their aversion to violence, savvy authoritarians also dehumanize their enemies. That’s what Trump is doing. Hitler used this ploy from the very start, calling Jews the “black parasites of the nation” in a 1920 speech. By the time Hitler got into power in 1933 and translated dehumanizing rhetoric into repressive policies, Germans had heard these messages for over a decade.
Trump is certainly doing this to more easily follow through on his extremist and violent promises should he be reelected. He will engage in retribution, as he and his advisers have indicated, and, as The Washington Post reported, quoting people inside Trump’s orbit, he will invoke the Insurrection Act of 1871, using the military to squash dissent and protests.
In one clip recently, Trump even vaguely implied a run for president yet again after 2024—which is currently unconstitutional, but who knows what they’ll do—and will want to fulfill the promises of internment camps and mass deportations. No one should put anything past him.
But he may also be ratcheting up the violent rhetoric should he lose the election as well. Re-educating Americans, as Ben-Ghiat puts it, “to see violence as justified, patriotic, and even morally righteous,” works for him if he loses too, as he could inspire mass riots and violence, the likes of which will make January 6th look like the tourist event Republicans have excused it as.
He wants his followers to do anything to destabilize any future government—and surely he’ll say the election was rigged—and most importantly, to help keep him out of prison, whatever it takes, no matter how implausible it may seem in the end. (Remember, this is not a clear-thinking, rational person we’re dealing with.)
The desperation Trump feels—fueled by the visions of prison life and the loss of all that he has—is surely part of what’s causing him to go full-on Nazi. But it’s also the worry he may have that his followers’ support is softer than it once was—that they really like him but aren’t willing to go to the mat—that has him laying out a “do or die” scenario.
He’s telling them it’s time for them to show their true loyalty, to put up or shut up and help “root out” and exterminate the “vermin,” and “expel” and “drive out” the “left-wing” thugs and others he perceives as the enemies, in what is “our final battle.”
The corporate media has got to make this clear. As the respected journalism professor and media critic Jay Rosen has been repeating, they must be focused on “not the odds, but the stakes” in their election coverage. Trump’s motivations and his actions—both now and if he were to become president, as well as if he were to lose—are the story right now.