Must-Read Andy Kroll: “Scenes From a MAGA Meltdown: Inside the ‘America First’ Movement’s War Over Democracy”

Kroll deep dive in ProPublica:

What divides the Republican Party of 2024 is not any one policy or ideology. It is not whether to support Donald Trump. The most important fault line in the party now is democracy itself. Today’s Republican insurgents believe democracy has been stolen, and they don’t trust the ability of democratic processes to restore it….

I grew up in Michigan. My own political education and my early years as a journalist coincided with a stunning Republican resurgence in my home state. Over several decades, Michigan’s dynastic families — the DeVoses and Meijers and Van Andels on the west side, the Romneys and Fords on the east — poured money and manpower into the Michigan Republican Party, building it into one of the most vaunted political operations in the country. They transformed Michigan from a bastion of organized labor that leaned Democratic into a toss-up state that, until recently, had a right-to-work law and put Republicans in control of all three branches of government for eight of the last 14 years. Michigan Republicans were so successful that other states copied their tactics. As Dick DeVos, heir to the Amway fortune and a prolific Republican donor, once told a gathering of conservative activists, “If we can do it in Michigan, you can do it anywhere.”

Several years ago, however, my home state stopped making sense to me. I watched as thousands of political newcomers, whose sole qualification appeared to be fervor of belief, declared war on the Republican establishment that had been so dominant. Calling themselves the “America First” movement, these unknowns treated the DeVoses and other party leaders as the enemy. I had covered the DeVoses and the Michigan Republican Party long enough to know that they were not just pro-business but staunch conservatives who wanted to slash taxes, abolish regulations and remake the public education system in favor of vouchers and parochial schools. Yet the new “America First” activists disparaged prominent Michigan Republicans as “globalist” elites who belonged to a corrupt “uniparty” cabal. That cabal had denied Trump a rightful second term and needed to be purged from the party.

With a consequential election looming, I traveled back to Michigan earlier this year to understand how this all happened. I sought out the activists waging this struggle, a group of people who don’t trust institutions or individuals except Trump and one another — and sometimes not even that. Could they triumph over the elites? I found chaos, incompetence, strife, a glimpse of a future post-Trump Republican Party and, all around me, danger for our system of government and the state of the country.

“We can’t keep going through election after election like this where a large plurality of the country just does not accept the outcome of the majority and refuses to abide by it,” said Jeff Timmer, a former executive director of the Michigan Republican Party who now works with the anti-Trump Lincoln Project. “That’s when the system falls apart.”

Share this: