How Trump trained and used his followers to generate fear is evident at every level. It was visible as officials tried to count votes in Las Vegas, and in Philadelphia, and in Maricopa County, Arizona. It was there in death threats delivered to the family of Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and to state and county officials across the nation.
The rallies that Trump held going back to before the 2016 election were never about creating support. They were always about demonstrating support—and about demonstrating the level of personal loyalty and frothing anger present among those who follow Trump. Trump wanted everyone to know what he had built. The comparisons between what happens at any Trump rally and what happened at Nuremberg are perfectly apt, because they were all about demonstrating a level of personal power that was intended to make people quake.
Trump spent years creating that fear. The whole scheme to overturn American democracy was about convincing everyone, from state officials to Mike Pence, that refusing to give Trump anything he asked for was risking the wrath of his followers. In the calls that Trump made to Raffensperger and others, he didn’t argue the law. He made threats.
In emails revealed just this week, Trump’s attorneys argued they could convince the Supreme Court into taking up a case defending his plot, even though they admitted there was no legal basis. Instead they leaned into the idea that the justices would act out of fear—fear of what Trump’s supporters would do on Jan. 6 if Trump didn’t get his way.
Trump may have ultimately employed the plot cooked up by John Eastman, but what fueled that plot was the same thing that had Republican leader Kevin McCarthy crawling back to Mar-a-Lago to beg Trump’s forgiveness: fear. The carefully constructed fear that Jan. 6 is just a taste of what those followers might do.
Why Wisconsin is so important with state Democratic Party chair Ben Wikler on Daily Kos Elections’ The Downballot podcast