5 Things You Need to Know about MAGA Republicans

A refresher on what motivates Trump’s MAGA Coalition – and the America they want.
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Donald Trump is now a convicted felon. This is an objectively good thing but you wouldn’t know it from a lot of the discourse in the media and online. Trump and his allies are attempting to claim that being a convicted felon only makes Trump stronger, and political pundits keep saying that a conviction wouldn’t impact the upcoming election. Even on the Left, there’s debate as to how Biden and Democrats should talk about Trump’s conviction. 

The conversation has been frustrating but I get it. At this point, most of us have internalized that Trump’s supporters will stick with him no matter what. That the media will continually grade Trump on a curve and give him a pass. That even when we beat Trump and MAGA it doesn’t feel like a win. In the face of all that, it’s hard not to feel discouraged. 

Here’s why I’m not: two years ago, it seemed impossible that Trump would ever be charged with a crime, much less be found guilty. Now, a jury has come back with a swift and unanimous verdict, convicting the first former president of the United States on all 34 charges. Multiple additional criminal cases in other jurisdictions continue, and Trump cronies have been charged in Arizona and Wisconsin for attempting to rig the 2020 election. Even in our flawed and weakened justice system, Trump and his fellow conspirators are being held accountable. That won’t sway his die-hard supporters, but I refuse to believe it won’t have an impact on voters come November, especially in an election where the outcome will likely come down to razor-thin margins.

This week I thought it would be helpful to offer a refresher on Trump’s MAGA Republicans and what they want. To understand this moment in America requires understanding what motivates Trump’s supporters. Not because we can’t beat them (as a reminder MAGA has lost every election cycle since 2016), but because beating them requires understanding the battle we’re actually fighting. Here’s what you need to know:

1. MAGA Republicans don’t believe in laws or norms. Only using them to their advantage. Trump and his cronies openly fantasize about everyone they’ll investigate and prosecute if Trump wins in November. The list includes District Attorney Alvin BraggJudge MerchanJoe Biden, and even Barack Obama. The last two are comical since Trump has also argued that former presidents should have total immunity, but that’s the point. Donald Trump and the people who support them believe that might makes right. Laws and norms are meant to keep their opponents in line, not be applied to them. They don’t care about hypocrisy. They don’t care about anything but winning and punishing anyone who attempts to stop them. 

2. MAGA Republicans gain power and immediately put it to use. Elected Republicans across the US are passing voter suppression legislation, making abortion illegal in multiple states, and coming for birth control next. They’re taking away the right to protest, and the rights of LGBTQ+ Americans. They’re banning Black History from being taught in schools and attempting to gut public education overall. As the Texas GOP platform shows, they have still more horrors planned. It’s worth noting that these electeds are counting on six MAGA Supreme Court Justices, who are essentially unelected political operatives, to let them get away with it. And I’ve already written a whole post on how these Justices flaunt their own power and make clear to America that they don’t believe anyone can hold them accountable either.

READ: Shocking Online Manifesto Reveals Project 2025’s Link to a Coordinated ‘Christian Nationalism Project’

3. MAGA Republicans understand the importance of media and cultural power. We see the same attempts to consolidate power and control the flow of information and rhetoric in media and tech. Elon now owns Twitter, Trump wannabe Vivek Ramaswamy is making a play for Buzzfeed, and multiple Silicon Valley players are all in for Trump’s reelection campaign. Meanwhile, on the culture front, Chris Rufo continues his crusade to purge academic, news, and cultural institutions of any ideas or people he doesn’t like. The MAGA Right is also the fuel for every current backlash and moral panicyou can think of.

4. MAGA Republicans plan to win by any means necessary. Trump isn’t trying to win an election. He and his MAGAites just see it as the next opportunity to take back control. Should they lose again, they’ll simply look for other avenues to seize it. The January 6 insurrection was a major setback for MAGA, but the movement has been working overtime ever since to gaslight Americans on what happened and turn the insurrectionists into folk heroes. They’ve also been hard at work attempting to dismantle everything that stopped them from holding onto power after the 2020 election loss. Trump and MAGA will continue to spread conspiracies, incite violence against opponents, and dehumanize marginalized communities in service of gaining power and control.

5. MAGA Republicans thrive on our misery and use it strategically. This is a movement built on slogans like “liberal tears,” “cry harder,” and “facts don’t care about your feelings.” It’s not enough to win, Trump and MAGA Republicans want to punish their opponents and see us suffer. The Atlantic’s Tom Nichols captures it best, “The Republican base actively embraces Trump’s grievances; it emulates his pettiness; it supports his childlike inability to accept responsibility. These voters are not sighing in resignation and voting for the lesser of two or three or four evils. They are getting what they want—because they, too, are set on revenge.”

But there’s also a strategy here. If done well, it can suppress votes. Something that arguably worked in 2016. It’s worth remembering that the same political operatives and media outlets that spent all of 2022 telling you that voters don’t care about abortion will spend the rest of 2024 assuring you that Trump’s now being a convicted felon doesn’t matter either. MAGA Republicans want the majority of Americans to believe the election doesn’t matter and stay home on election day. For the lolz but ultimately for the win.

We’ve beaten them multiple times now and I believe we can beat them again come November.

But we need to be clear-eyed about what the true aims of MAGA Republicans are and how far they’re willing to go. Right now, I think it’s especially important to understand and internalize that they want us demoralized and why. It’s a helpful reminder, especially in a year of one brutal news cycle after another about the election.

READ: Former Terrorism Official Exposes Threat of Christian Extremism

Trump’s conviction matters. Early polling indicates it will hurt his candidacy. Most Americans don’t want a convicted felon as President and they don’t want the future that MAGA envisions. We have less than five months to make sure all of these charges, convictions, and accountability matter. 

This is an excerpt from Ctrl Alt-Right Deletea newsletter produced in partnership with COURIER — a civic media company. It was republished with the author’s permission. Subscribe HERE.

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Melissa Ryan

Melissa Ryan Ctrl is the author of Alt-Right Delete, a newsletter devoted to covering the rise of far-right extremism, white nationalism disinformation, and online toxicity, delivered on a weekly basis to more than 16,000 subscribers. Her writing has appeared in publications such as The Progressive, Buzzfeed News, Refinery29, NowThis, and Media Matters.

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