|Right-wing armed militiamen takes to the streets in Portland.|
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany refused to denounce armed vigilantes taking to the streets during at today's press briefing. Asked if the White House believes that citizens should stop showing up in cities, especially ones they don’t live in, with weapons to protect buildings, McEnany didn’t directly answer. -- CNNTrump's inciting violence, including his lauding right-wing gun thugs as "patriots", isn't necessarily about winning the election. Polls indicate that Trump's approval numbers are still dropping even as mass support for ongoing protests is waning (61% in June to 48% in August) and that his standing in the polls has worsened amid outbreaks of violence and his chances of winning a normal, traditional election may be growing slimmer.
But that doesn't mean that ongoing violent confrontations and street battles aren't feeding Trumpism or playing to Republican hands.
Jeet Heer, writing today in The Nation, surmises that
Aside from the obvious political advantage Trump is trying to extract, his incitement of violence serves another purpose that goes beyond simple electoral calculation. Trump is trying to make the United States ungovernable in order to rob his political foes of any meaningful victory.
Inciting violence is Trump’s Samson option. Like the biblical hero who famously brought the Philistine temple down on his head, Trump would prefer that everything collapse around him rather than to surrender.But his encouragement for increased violent confrontations can be more than a testimony to DT's personal narcissism and racism. It may also be part of the Republican strategy for holding onto power in the face of a predictable electoral defeat or as an excuse for suppressing the vote through intimidation and even cancelling the election and maintaining control of the state apparatus indefinitely, ie. a coup d'etat.
America's most senior general, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, told members of Congress the other day, that the military wouldn't play a role in November's election and won't help settle any disputes if the results are contested. But the very fact that Milley felt compelled to make such a statement shows the pressure for intervention is there.
Furthermore, Trump has shown that he doesn't need or necessarily want official military or "deep state" backing for any extra-constitutional moves. He has in place his loyal (he assumes) white supremacist militia groups like the kind we currently see in Kenosha plus trained paramilitary and mercenary groups at the ready thanks to his relationship with Betsy DeVos' brother and Blackwater founder, Erik Prince.
It may well be that it's Joe Biden and the Democrats who will need Milley's help if they win in November, rather than the MAGAs.
Biden during a June interview on The Daily Show when he was asked what would happen should Trump resist leaving office after an election defeat. His response:
"I promise you, I'm absolutely convinced they will escort him from the White House with great dispatch," Biden said, referring to the US military's Joint Chiefs of Staff.Me, I'm not so sure.