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After Trump’s home was raided by the FBI, columnist Paul Waldman scorched Trump supporters in a Thursday op-ed for seeing the former president’s struggles as symbolic for their own.
Titled “Why Trump has to sell a fantasy of collective persecution,” Waldman’s piece claimed to readers that Republicans are using cynical victim narratives to rally their base: “right now, with investigations potentially closing in on Trump from multiple directions, they’ve homed in on a vital message: This isn’t about Trump. It’s about you.”
He mocked the idea that Trump’s travails are pitched as a “story in which every registered Republican is at risk of having their home ransacked by jackbooted government thugs.”
The columnist suggested that “a sense of oppression has become central to motivating conservative voters, a way of keeping them engaged, angry and feeling that they have a personal stake in the outcome of every political event.”
The start of this political narrative, Waldman claimed, came during Trump’s initial 2016 campaign for the presidency when he “had an economic message with genuine appeal to a wide swath of voters, one that was based in truth even as it played on people’s resentments.”
He summarized that “at its heart was a truth: Across the Rust Belt and throughout rural America, people are indeed suffering long-term problems that the current arrangements of wealth and power aren’t fixing.”
All the same, Waldman mocked Trump supporters for romanticizing their own narrative and tying it with the fate of Trump, believing “whatever happens to Trump this week or next could also happen to them.”
“They’re not just used to hearing that message; they glory in it. They are the sympathetic victims, the encircled defenders of justice, oppressed but unbowed,” he said.
Waldman pilloried them further for seeing themselves as part of a greater narrative within American history: “You’re not just an ordinary person with an ordinary job and an ordinary life. You’re a freedom fighter waging war against forces of darkness to secure liberty’s future. The more grubby and personal Trump’s misdeeds are, the more important it is to keep telling the base that story so its allegiance won’t waver.”
The Washington Post contributor made a series of accusations as he appeared to insult Trump’s base: “So every absurd Trump story will have to be presented this way: He took those classified documents for you, he cheated on his taxes for you, he tried to steal the election for you, and if, heaven forbid, he should face accountability for his wrongdoing, you will be the one who pays the price.”
“To any reasonable person, it might sound absurd. But the MAGA devotees believe it with all their hearts,” he concluded.