MSNBC’s Ali Velshi on Saturday hosted a discussion of the looming threat of a second Trump presidency. And kicking things off, Velshi noted that Trump’s supporters are “right there with him, even as his rhetoric has become more blatantly fascist. They want what he wants.”
To flesh that point out, Velshi then spoke with with Atlantic writer Tom Nichols, author of “Our Own Worst Enemy: The Assault From Within on Modern Democracy,” and Matthew Dowd, the former Republican strategist-turned-network political analyst.
Velshi’s comments were in part about Trump’s insistence that immigrants are “poisoning the blood” of the United States.
The trio then discussed the idea that the early complaints of Trump’s base have become self-fulling prophecies. “If you talked to Trump voters in 2015, 2016, as he was running the first time,” Nichols said, “they would say that while you know, we’re looked down upon or the culture doesn’t respect us, and of course that resulted in these endless, inane safaris to diners and gas stations and you know the futile attempt to, to understand the Trump voter.”
What some of Trump’s voters might not realize, Nichols added, is that “What happened after voting for Trump twice and supporting him, even as he threatens to become a dictator after January 6, after all of his horrendous behavior, after the E Jean Carroll trial still ongoing. They’ve turned it into a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
“Yes, there are a lot of people who look down on them for what they’re supporting. A lot of ordinary normal Americans who would never think to support a man who has been found liable for rape, who talks about his fellow citizens as vermin. And so Trump voters are saying, ‘Why are you looking down on us? Why are you judging us?’ As if there weren’t perfectly good reason to do that.”
“It’s now come full circle,” Nichols concluded, “that the anti-establishment candidate has dragged his voters into the sewers with him and they’ve decided that they have, after years of doubling down, that they simply have to accept it and revel in it and claim that this is what they want.”
Velshi then turned to Dowd and asked the obvious question: “What do you do with this?”
Dowd said that while he believes that Trump “has been part of precipitating this,” he also thinks the former president “revealed what it was existing in American politics.” He added, “The reason Trump won in 2016 wasn’t because he caused the Republican Party to become what it had become, what it has become, it’s that he revealed a part of the Republican Party and a large part of the Republican Party, as that it wanted to be stayed in this grievance era of this.”
Dowd then added that he thinks Sarah Palin was a “pre-Trump Trump” and that “I think in order to do something about it, we have to understand that’s the current state of the Republican Party, and Donald Trump, just removing Donald Trump from the equation is not going to solve the problem.”
In that vein, Nichols then noted that “The strongest political force in the world right now is resentment.”
“It is deep-seated and mostly emotional and irrational resentment,” he continued. “And Trump … Trump tapped into that. He, he kind of mined that as a very rich vein of political support among people who couldn’t put into words this sort of itching feeling of inferiority and sort of sense of being outsiders.” Watch the entire MSNBC segment in the video above.