What is M.A.G.A.? Who Are They?

Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

M.A.G.A.: “Make America Great Again.”

Seems innocuous. Yet, President Joe Biden recently ridiculed the MAGA movement, labeling members “threats to democracy.” He even went as far as to accuse them of “representing an extremism that threatens the very fibers of our country.”

Strong words! The question becomes, who are the MAGA members and why does the president see them as a threat to the country?

For those who truly want to know, it is as easy as reviewing Henry Olson’s article, “Dangerous Disaffection,” which appeared in National Review, on June 2nd, 2011.

At that time, Republicans were trying to understand how incumbent Jane Corwin had lost a seemingly safe congressional seat in New York. At first, it was concluded that the rising Tea Party movement had put up a candidate who had effectively siphoned away enough Republican primary votes to deny her victory. A second looked revealed something much more complicated.

Olson called them the “Disaffecteds.” Describing them as “forgotten America,” Olson stratified them as “77% white, with an average household income of $30,000 per year, 90% Independents, 95% anti-Barack Obama, and 100% distrustful of government.” It was believed that less than 20% had voted in the previous four elections.

Initially, it was assumed that “Disaffecteds” were members of the Tea Party movement. Not so! Jane Corwin’s support of Paul Ryan’s cut to entitlements revealed a hidden segment of the country now believed to make up 20% of the overall voting population. In short, these Americans had concluded that the government was not their friend. When Republicans began to talk about altering entitlements, they made them pay.

A year earlier, then-candidate, now Senator Rand Paul had introduced an inspiring read, “The Tea Party Goes to Washington.” Paul had faced off against Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway in a contest for Jim Bunning’s Senate seat. Conway’s prodigious Bay Area/Brookline funding proved to be no match for Paul’s Libertarian grassroots support. Passionate endorsements from the Lexington Herald-Leader and the Louisville Courier-Journal, were not enough to save the Attorney General!  Conway lost to Paul in lopsided fashion.

Paul discussed the coldness experienced from members of the Kentucky establishment Republicans. Mitch McConnell saw him as mostly a “nuisance and a distraction.” Yet the retiring Bunning did offer some quiet words of encouragement. It showed that his Libertarian message was penetrating what had previously been a closed operation.

Paul should be remembered as the first to draw the distinction between “Constitutionalist Conservatives” and “New Conservatives” aka “Neo-Cons.”

Constitutionalist conservatives, according to Paul, were “strict constructionists of the Constitution.” They likened themselves to “Jeffersonians,” favoring “smaller government, lower taxes, non-intervention in foreign entanglements and more individual freedoms for all Americans.”

Paul described “Neo-Cons” as lovers of a “large, Washington, D.C.-based government whose role was to “advance and facilitate conservative principles.” These principles included, but were not limited to “free trading” and “exporting Democracy.”

Exporting democracy called for “fighting preemptive wars” globally, subsequently allowing nations around the world to “experience the fruits of Democracy.” The policy was called “nation-building.”

The former amounted to “getting goods and services for the cheapest price.” If it meant shipping American jobs offshore in favor of sweatshop labor found in Southeast Asia, the price tag of those goods and services justified the action. It should be mentioned that establishment Dems took no issue with this practice.

Some say that then-candidate Donald Trump identified the “Dissafecteds” and immediately coined a message that proved attractive to them. Others contend that these Americans may have found him, his message consoling their overall frustration with a country that had left them behind.

When Trump spoke about a “stagnant wage” due to offshore outsourcing and an open border that allowed cheap, undocumented labor to flow into the country, they took heart! When he reminded them of the money wasted abroad on “endless wars,” it awakened their innermost longing to have a president who understood them, their needs, and their overall frustration with what Trump called a “rigged system.”

The political genius of Donald Trump is manifested in how he first identified the “Dissafecteds” and later found sufficient common ground to merge them with Paul’s Libertarians and Mike Huckabee’s Evangelicals. The end result: “Faith-Based National Populism,” a movement that was color, gender, ethnic and religious blind!

This masterpiece of positioning blindsided Neo-Cons and, to a lesser degree, establishment Democrats.

Suddenly, millions of Americans were questioning the endless wars and shipping of American jobs overseas. The label “globalist” was becoming as toxic as “Communist” and “NAZI.”

Establishment Republicans such as Lamar Alexander, Mitch McConnell, John McCain, Mitt Romney, and Carly Fiorina were seen as “elitists.” On the other side of the aisle, Charles Schumer, Dick Durbin, Dianne Feinstein, and Nancy Pelosi were realizing that previously loyal “blue collar” and minority voters could no longer be taken for granted.

Trump ingeniously referred to the Washington establishment as “the Swamp.” His 2016 battle cry was a promise to “drain the swamp.” In short, retire the existing political establishment which included thousands of unelected bureaucrats, who had accrued unspeakable power with no accountability over the years.

Joe Biden is the “swamp” manifested. His fifty-year tenure in Washington, D.C.  exemplifies his place as a “swamp creature.” His recent Philadelphia address was an arrogant attempt to pigeonhole his opponents, labeling them as “threats to Democracy.”

As would be expected, the corporate media gave the president the expected “harumph!” But even this blessing was garbled with second guesses. Most disquieting was Biden’s blatant accusation that his political opponents were attempting to undermine the country.

There is an intense fear of a Trump return. The 2020 election proved to be a wake-up call. Previously ignored down-ticket, state House races are in focus. The Trump team is campaigning aggressively for like-minded secretary of state, attorney general and gubernatorial candidates in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, Arizona, and Georgia. These “swing states” will likely determine the 2024 winner. Expect more in the coming weeks!

“Growing division in the Republican Party” amounts to MSM infatuation with bitter Neo-Cons, Adam Kinsinger and Liz Cheney who have been forced out of the Republican Party. Trump will be the 2024 Republican nominee if he decides to run.

Much, if not most of the credibility of the polls was destroyed by 2020. Veteran pollster Frank Luntz made this assertion, citing an ABC/Washington Post poll that showed Biden ahead by 17 points in Wisconsin the day before the election. Biden won the state by 20,000 votes or 2/5 of a point.

Disaffected voters may be the reason why polls are increasingly inconsistent. Most do not have ground lines, rarely answer their cell phones, and are reluctant to disclose their true voting inclinations. It goes back to overall mistrust in government and anything associated with the government.

The internet is filled with encouraging stories supported by skewed polls suggesting that Biden is actually a popular president who would defeat Donald Trump in a rematch. Smart money suggests otherwise.

A better bet for Democrats would be to get Trump disqualified. While dangerous, it may be the only way for them to prevent his 2024 return to the White House.


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