The political landscape in the United States has always been marked by diverse ideologies and philosophies. In recent years, the rise of the Make America Great Again (MAGA) political movement has garnered significant attention and stirred debates. While some view it as a patriotic and empowering movement, it is crucial to unpack the potential dangers it poses to American democracy — our republic.
First, at the core of the MAGA philosophy lies a destructive brand of populist nationalism. Its rhetoric often portrays those who align with the Trump-created movement as “true patriots,” creating an us versus them mentality that fosters divisions. The emphasis on protecting U.S. interests above all else leads to a distorted sense of nationalistic pride, potentially fueling xenophobia and eroding the principles of inclusivity that underpin American plurality. All of this is, of course, exacerbated by Fox News, which, despite having been proven to be liars in a court of law, continue to successfully monetize anger. In the Dominion Voting Systems defamation settlement, Fox blandly admitted that, “We acknowledge the court’s rulings finding certain claims about Dominion to be false,” the statement said. This is a damning example of corporate greed.
Second, MAGA’s relentless attacks on established institutions and the media weaken the public’s trust in the pillars of our republic. The framers built our political institutions as a protection against our own worst impulses. By consistently labeling media sources as “fake news” and questioning the validity of democratic processes, this movement perpetuates doubt and erodes the foundation of government. A strong democracy thrives on diversity of opinion and an informed citizenry, both of which suffer when trust is undermined. A sad example is the unprecedented inability of the Republican Party, currently in the majority in the U.S. House, to select a speaker, for three weeks and rounds of voting, finally settling on Michael Johnson a few days ago.
Third, MAGA acolytes rely heavily on emotional appeals and simplistic solutions instead of evidence-based policy making. This phenomenon impairs the effectiveness of governance, as policy decisions are based on perceptions of reality rather than research and diverse expert opinions. Danger arises when policy decisions are made without a firm grounding in facts and are instead driven by ideological preferences or biases. The lies embraced by MAGA adherents have little tolerance for truth.
Fourth, MAGA’s true believers discourage dissent and stifle critical voices. Public figures, on both sides of the aisle, who voice opposition or criticism are frequently targeted and subjected to personal attacks or branding as unpatriotic. This hostile environment inhibits healthy discourse and shrinks the space for constructive criticism. Our republic needs dissent, which plays a pivotal role in fostering innovation, accountability and ensuring checks and balances.
Fifth, MAGA’s emphasis on “America first” policies inevitably leads to the erosion of alliances and productive relationships. By prioritizing narrowly defined national interests, this position risks diminishing America’s role as a global leader, and currently threatens our support of Ukraine. Such isolationism weakens international cooperation, endangers vital global economic interests and security agreements, such as NATO. A strong democracy balances national interests with active global engagement.
Tragically, while MAGA resentment resonates with a significant portion of the population, it is essential to recognize the potential danger it poses to our form of government. Polarization, erosion of institutional trust, diminished evidence-based policy making, suppression of dissent and the assault on international alliances all threaten the health and vibrancy of processes crucial for our nation’s future. There are no doubt reasons for right-wing anger. However, burning the house down, which seems to be a MAGA predilection, is not the answer.
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Robert Bruce Adolph – a former university lecturer on American History and Government – is a retired Army senior Special Forces soldier and UN security chief. He is author of the book, “Surviving the United Nations.” Learn more at robertbruceadolph.com.