In a column for The Atlantic, a former speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan and both Presidents Bush made the case that Donald Trump has convinced his most ardent followers that the country will collapse into chaos and "savagery" if he is not reinstated into his rightful place as president of the United States.
As Peter Wehner, a frequent critic of the former president sees it, Trump has led his fans to believe that "nothing is off limits" when it comes to the "America First" ideology that led to the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Using Trump's speech before the America First Policy Institute (AFPI) last week as a jumping-off point, Wehner wrote that the former president's "disordered personality" was on display, writing, "What he cares about is the performative part of politics, inflaming people’s passions, creating chaos and conflict."
According to the columnist, Trump is a master at ramping up "fear, hate and grievances" which he has put to good use last week and at his recent rallies.
"Trump used his speech to portray his opponents as not just misguided but wicked and therefore suitable objects of hate," he wrote and cited the foirmer president telling the AFPI crowd, "Despite great outside dangers, our biggest threat in this country remains the sick, sinister, and evil people from within," and then warning, "But no matter how big or powerful the corrupt radicals that we’re fighting against may be, no matter how menacing they appear, we must never forget this nation does not belong to them. This nation belongs to you, the American people."
Adding that what Trump has done "in the eyes of his supporters is to set up a clash of epic, almost biblical proportions," the columnist added that to them it is a battle between "the children of light versus the children of darkness, patriots versus traitors, the decent versus the depraved. In an existential conflict such as this, everything is permissible; nothing is off limits."
Suggesting, "This is a fight to the death," the conservative author said of the 2024 presidential election, ,"Whether Trump wins or not, he has left an imprint on the Republican Party. In 2016, Trump was the outlier, a political freak. Today his inclinations, his enmities, his style of politics define the GOP."
"Whoever leads the Republican Party in the years ahead, the fear, grievances, and hate Trump poured into the cauldron won’t dissipate anytime soon. If and when the GOP finally does break away from the dark, fanatical, cultlike qualities that now characterize it, it will do so because the people who compose and define it seek—even if imperfectly—what is true and good and honorable," he wrote before concluding, "For the Republican Party, the only way out is the way up."
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