As news of the US Capitol being stormed by Trump supporters makes it’s rounds, some of you may be asking the question, how did we get here?
There is not an easy answer to that but please allow me to offer a bit of insight into what has been taking place since election day, conceding that the full answer goes back way before November 3, 2020.
There is a faction of our electorate that truly believes Trump was sent by God to save America from itself. There is another faction that believes Trump is the answer to their prayers for a white macho savior who will prioritize whiteness and toughness in everything he does. There is another faction that believes Trump is the answer to their prayers for a savior who will prioritize greenness in everything he does and yet another faction that believes Trump is the answer to their prayers for someone who has their backs and will look out for them. The spiritual, cultural, economic and psychological factions.
The supporters who convened in DC today are from the spiritual, cultural and psychological factions. The rich folks have too much to lose but you can bet they are partly excited about the “trump revolution” and partly frightened because of the possible negative impact on the market.
The three factions that have gathered in DC to prove they are in it for the long haul have much less to lose and some may possibly have nothing at all to lose.
The Spiritual Faction:
Prior to the election, many well known Prophets with a large following prophecied that Trump would win. They declared it with confidence and certainty.
When he did not win, rather than decide that their prophets were wrong, the members of this faction were encouraged to keep the faith until the Prophecy does indeed come to pass or until the Prophets revise the prophecy in some way. There are some in the spiritual faction that do not truly believe in the Prophets but they like what the Prophets predict and they want to believe that the prophecy will come to pass, so they hop on the bandwagon.
These Trump supporters believe they are doing God’s work and they might possibly be the most dangerous. They need God’s approval, they need his salvation, they need his protection and they need his Heaven. If they are persuaded to believe that fighting for Trump will get them those things, they will die in the effort. These are the radical christian extremists within our border and can easily, with the proper instigation, become radical christian terrorists.
They are connected through social media, church gatherings (online & in person), and prayer circles. They also subscribe to various prophets’ & pastors’ email lists and channels on youtube. They have been receiving constant daily doses of spiritual encouragement to keep the faith to “stop the steal.” They have been shamed as not sufficiently Christian if they refuse to take up spiritual arms in this revolution which some claim as their 1776 moment.
In isolation, these prophetic voices can be quite influential. The silos and echo chambers that categorize our lives into us vs them can make the extreme seem common. Members of this faction are also more likely to believe in conspiracy theories that align with their religious beliefs. I doubt the average American realizes how committed the members of this faction are to rid Washington of the evil that is working against Trump and what they see as God’s plan.
Trump gave members of this faction a sense of power that they have not ever had in their lives. They were recognized as the core part of his base, they mattered outside of their faction. They influenced the appointing of judges and the election of like minded governors and representatives and for some, they felt a part of of God’s bigger plan to re-make America into God’s image and just the thought of losing this power is traumatic for them. Power is a hard thing to wave goodby to.
Most of the people in the spiritual faction are non violent and just want God’s will to prevail. The ones that are being radicalized will have difficulty discerning their will from God’s will. When the opposition is described as evil, unGodly, satan worshippers it will not take long for a member of the spiritual faction who is unstable to take matters into his/her own hands. We’ve already seen it happen many times before.
The Cultural Faction:
Whiteness is their badge, their identity, their safe place. They believe that America is great because of the superior intellect, ability and imagination of the white people that “built” her. They also believe that human advancement has occurred because of white people’s superiority.
For most of America’s short life, members of the cultural faction have had people in leadership that believed like they do. White leaders who had no problem subjugating whole classes of people. White leaders who were clear on where they stood in regards to being better than the “lesser races.” Only recently have members of the cultural faction had to stand by while white leaders gave in to the pressure to recognize other races and enact policies that gave the “lesser races” limited access to the American Dream.
The cultural faction put up with these white leaders because they believed that these leaders “had” to act as if they were not racist due to societal pressure, and as long as the “lesser races” didn’t get too high and mighty as a result of the white leaders’ “fairer” policies, the members of the cultural faction would still support these white leaders. Plus, the white leaders got proficient at speaking in code or using dog whistles and this would confirm to the members of the cultural faction that they were on the same page as them.
This faction includes the uber-conservative militia macho groups who believe western culture is superior to all others and men are superior to women.
Along comes Trump, a white leader that speaks his mind, that is not politically correct, that condemns Mexicans and Muslims, belittles and objectifies women and that has a record that reveals how much he despises the advantages he thinks blacks have.
The members of this faction believe in the idea of superiority anyway, so the idea that there must be followers and leaders is baked into their philosophy and it becomes easy for them to worship white male-ness as worth fighting and dying for.
The Psychological Faction:
The members of the psychological faction have been beaten up by life to a degree where they truly believe that they have been cheated out of their piece of the American Dream. The members of this faction find it easy to believe some of the simplistic explanations for their situation especially when the finger is pointed at others like immigrants.
Many members of this faction don’t have much but they’ve worked hard for what they do have. Their forefathers didn’t have much and with things going the way they are, as far as they can tell, their children and their children’s children may not have much. Trump comes along and presents a convincing enough case that their ills are because of x, y & z and the he suggests the easy solution is to rid the country of x, y & z, the members of the psychological faction will then do what they can to keep him in the position of power.
The members of this faction had good jobs that disappeared possibly outsourced to other countries, so they know the pain when an opportunity gets stolen from them. They can relate to what it feels like when an opportunity is given to someone they feel is less worthy than them which equals less American than them. That makes it easy for them to latch onto the idea that the election was stolen and the only way to get it back is to take it by force.
Some of Trump’s supporters are members of more than one of these factions and some are members of all three. Trump also represents a type of revenge for each of these factions. Their way of getting back at the elites who ignored them and/or took them for granted for so long. Trump taking them under his tent and “winning” for them while flouting the elite’s politically correct rules is the success that serves as his supporters best revenge.
There is another faction which I would categorize as insurrection opportunists. These folks take advantage of any chance they get to overthrow the sitting government no matter who it is. Anytime they can co-opt a movement, they do, and Trump’s rhetoric has been like shit to their fly sensibilities. It was just a matter of time until the smell of his bullshit caused them to swarm in and feast.
I am not a pastor, cultural anthropologist or psychologist, just an observer of my own humanity and the humanity that surrounds me. When I spoke in a previous essay here about Trump radicalizing his supporters, unfortunately what happened today is what I was referring to. Hear me when I say, some of these people really will not concede and may want to die as martyrs to the cause. If they see Trump as their only hope for a future for them and their children and he is now no longer the President, what might they have to live for?
For those of you wondering why so many gathered today at a strictly procedural joint session of congress where Pence’s only role was to moderate the congressional counting of electors certified already by each state. It’s because they ignored the ceremonial nature of the counting of electors or they really didn’t know it is a strictly ceremonial event. Pence had no other “official” role than to lead the meeting so that the counting occurred and the announcements of the winners were made. For weeks though, since states sent their certificates of electors to the National Archives on December 14th, the die hard Trump supporters have been encouraged to keep praying, keep protesting, keep marching, keep pressuring their representatives, keep the faith and pray for Pence to stop the steal. Some instigating voices were up front and stated it would take a miracle for anything to happen whether Pence was inclined to do anything more or not. Others simply presented Pence as the last hope for the movement as if he actually had power to make a difference, which he does not. Trump chose to pin his and thousands of his supporters hopes on Pence - wishful thinking at it’s best.
Title 3, section 15 of the US Code addresses the procedure for the joint session of Congress to handle any objections to one or more electors. The VP’s role is clear. The likelihood of both houses of Congress agreeing to reject the state certified electors is almost zero. So essentially there is basically NO chance to reverse the will of the people as represented by the state’s Certificate of Electors ceremonially counted by Congress today. NONE!
The people gathered in Washington DC today either ignored the fact that there was no chance to overturn the election and were counting on a miracle or they were fooled into believing there was a chance and as they watched their chance being “stolen” again, well, what’s a zealot to do?
Listen to yourself when you talk about the state of our country and if you use terms which denigrate entire segments of the US population, you are possibly closer than you think to climbing through US Capitol windows. Why not figure out what needs we all have in common and work on satisfying those things.
*Update includes reference to macho groups being included in the Cultural Faction