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Awful New Info About Trump and “Reich” Video Shows Deep MAGA Sickness

Yes, the campaign took down the “Unified Reich” video. Meanwhile, Trump and his allies are aggressively seeding the discourse with fascistic language that’s much, much worse.

Mark Peterson/Pool/Getty Images
Former President Donald Trump at Manhattan Criminal Court on May 21

After Donald Trump’s feed on Truth Social shared a video that heralds the coming of a “unified Reich” if he wins the White House, his campaign spokesperson insisted the video was created by a “random account” and posted by an unnamed staffer. It now appears the tweet has been deleted—no doubt by someone or other not named “Donald Trump.”

The Trump campaign’s initial story about this video may or may not prove true. But as we debate those specifics, let’s not lose sight of a larger point. Trump and his highest-profile allies have plainly embarked on a broader related project—one that seeks to acclimatize the American electorate to fascistic language and far-reaching authoritarian policy “solutions.” They are slowly edging the discourse deeper into that fraught territory, as if painstakingly testing how far they can take this without provoking too much public discomfort over it.

The video envisions a future America led by a victorious Trump, and appears to flash a headline from text copied from Wikipedia’s World War I entry, describing “German industrial strength” after 1871 that’s ascribed to “the creation of a unified Reich”—that is, a unified Germany. The video does not refer to the Third Reich (the German Empire, from 1871 to 1918, was the Second Reich). At the same time, it flashes headlines like “Border Is Closed” and “15 Million Illegal Aliens Deported,” which roots visions of nationalist strength and revival in mass expulsions designed to purify the nation.

But whatever the precise intent of the video, new information emerging about it helps illuminate that larger point—that Trump, his loyalists, and large swaths of his movement are edging the outer boundaries of mainstream political discourse in a fascistic or overtly authoritarian direction.

The video appears to be the work of a meme creator known as “Ramble_Rants,” the Associated Press reports. That creator belongs to a group of meme makers that has collaborated with the Trump campaign. As a New York Times exposé detailed, their work includes conspiracy theories about election fraud, ferocious belittlings of President Biden, and brutally demeaning depictions—including full-blown racism—of Trump’s other political and legal antagonists. Trump and other MAGA dignitaries have cheered on much of this, the Times reports, and have sought to directly influence those efforts.

The creator of the “Reich” video has done some of the most virulent work along these lines, the Times demonstrates. And so, when Trump’s social media feed shares a video like this that hails a coming “unified Reich” built on dramatic, far-reaching acts of national purification, it opens a window on a larger phenomenon: this shadow zone where Trump and his leading operatives encourage mass fascistic shitposting and propaganda—and seek to harness the energies released by it.

It’s a key tell that the Republicans alarmed by this kind of politics immediately saw the broader significance of this video’s genesis. As longtime GOP strategists Brian Riedl and Alyssa Farah Griffin pointed out, the video’s very creation—and even the blaming of a Trump staffer for sharing it—only illustrate the existence of a large junior staffer set that’s fluent in online fascistic political language, which Trump and his operatives see as indispensable to their own movement.

Meanwhile, Trump and his leading propagandists are aggressively seeding the discourse with their own fascistic language. In recent months, Trump has described migrants as “poisoning the blood of our country,” invented a new category called “migrant crime,” threatened to root out “vermin” in the government who oppose him, floated terminating parts of the Constitution, and vowed to be “dictator,” albeit only “on day one.”

On another front, Trump and MAGA Republicans have concocted a new conspiracy theory: that FBI agents who searched Mar-a-Lago were supposedly authorized to kill Trump. As Andrew Egger shows at The Bulwark, this is based on an absurd misreading of FBI regulations, but the point of this is surely not to persuade anyone that the FBI is really out to assassinate him. Instead, it’s about plumbing how far MAGA can go in manufacturing fake pretexts for the uprooting of the “vermin” to come.

Then there are the vows by Trump and his allies to unleash the Justice Department on political enemies, to stock the bureaucracy with corrupt loyalists, to convert intelligence agencies into MAGA enforcement battalions, to launch deeply sadistic mass removals of millions of immigrants (Stephen Miller advertised this as “spectacular,” seemingly gauging public excitement about its cruelty), to hobble international institutions and empower international dictators and autocrats, and more.

As The New Republic’s great new series on “American Fascism” details, you can see in these proposals a far-reaching blueprint for autocratic rule—and for a new mode of political savagery directed at assorted enemies within. Understood this way, the conspicuous offering of such heinous policy “solutions” by Trump and MAGA thinkers seems designed to measure public tolerance for authoritarianism.

A helpful framework for understanding all this is Damon Linker’s conception of the “fasc-ish” political style. Under Trump, this has included overt support for political violence, totalitarian-style serial deception expressly understood as an assertion of the power to remake reality, depictions of a nation in total moral and spiritual collapse, and the blaming of this supposed calamity on mass betrayal by traitorous elites.

This “fasc-ish” politics also casts Trump as a martyred victim of those elites, and elevates his sacred bond with his supporters—“the people,” accurately understood—as the only hope for national redemption. It savagely dehumanizes political opponents, invents a supremely powerful leftist threat that justifies anything in response, shows limitless contempt for the very idea that rules should constrain and direct political engagement, and elevates deliberate agitprop as an idealized form of political expression. As those aforementioned Trump quotes and proposals show, he and his propagandists are trafficking in all these elements.

The video promoted by Trump’s feed contained the words “unifying Reich,” which were a tad too explicitly evocative of Nazism, requiring his disavowal. But the bigger story is unmistakable: Trump and his allies are testing how far they can push forward with a dizzying barrage of propaganda tropes and policy threats that are at least as perniciously “fasc-ish” as that video, and often far more so. And if Trump can get elected in spite of all that, they will likely claim a mandate for full-blown authoritarian rule.