Skimming this, I thought at first that he meant metaphorical violence, i.e. violence to the Christian conservative agenda. But no, he mentions Antifa too. He’s talking about the real deal.
Why would there be more left-wing violence after the left wins? Logically you’d expect more violence after they lose. If they can’t reclaim political power fair and square, if they’re frustrated at seeing Trump shift the country right, they might go nuts and decide that it’s time to make their point by more “direct” means. Whenever I read one of those LARP-ish Civil War 2.0 op-eds by someone on the populist right, the scenario presented never involves the right winning politically. (“If they come for our guns, if they come for our faith,” etc.) Why would it? There’s no need to fight when it’s your side making the laws.
Whatever, though. I think POTUS is just trying to one-up Steve Bannon’s “base-plus” strategy for the midterms here by kitchen-sinking it. We’re past “Vote for us because we gave you Gorsuch and a tax cut.” If you’re worried about your base not turning out, you scare the sh*t out of them by any means necessary. That means warning that a blue wave will lead to (1) Mueller unleashed, (2) impeachment, and, I guess, (3) the Antifa apocalypse.
At stake in the November midterms, Trump told the audience, are all the gains he has made for conservative Christians.
“The level of hatred, the level of anger is unbelievable,” he said. “Part of it is because of some of the things I’ve done for you and for me and for my family, but I’ve done them….This November 6th election is very much a referendum on not only me, it’s a referendum on your religion, it’s a referendum on free speech and the First Amendment.”
If the GOP loses, he said, “they will overturn everything that we’ve done and they’ll do it quickly and violently, and violently. There’s violence. When you look at Antifa and you look at some of these groups — these are violent people.”
“You’re one election away from losing everything that you’ve got,” he supposedly warned them, according to NBC. That’s not true, but it’s also not what Trump actually said. The NYT has a more accurate quote. If evangelicals don’t vote, he said, “we’re going to have a miserable two years and we’re going to have, frankly, a very hard period of time because then it just gets to be one election — you’re one election away from losing everything you’ve got.” That’s more sensible. The GOP can’t plausibly claim that this year is decisive since Trump will retain veto power even if Democrats take both chambers of Congress. What you’re really hearing here is a warm-up of his 2020 pitch, the “Flight 93 election” revisited. The “hijackers” are trying to break back into the cockpit after the good guys seized the controls.
Partisan polarization being what it is, we’ll be hearing variations on that theme during every presidential election for the rest of my life. “Flight 93 election, part nine: After the hijackers retook the controls, then lost them again, then got locked out of the cockpit, then smashed through the cockpit wall, then got sucked out the door into open space, then miraculously fired up the jet packs in mid-air that they were wearing and flew back into the plane, will they finally seize the controls for good?”
Exit question: What will be the pitch in late October if the generic ballot polling goes sideways and suddenly the GOP’s staring at an historically awful night? If we’re already at the “Antifa rampage” stage in August, we’re probably headed for a “9/11, this time with nukes” pitch by November.