Since the rise of Donald Trump in 2016, the far-right, extremist sector of the Republican party is seemingly growing larger and stronger. Even in the 2022 midterm elections, Trump and his far-right allies were seen in the media anticipating a “red wave” in Congress, but the party did not perform to their expectations. Despite their lack of turnout in the most recent elections, the far Right’s strength and extremism is cause for major concern since the Democratic party lacks the same momentum.
As someone from an extremely blue state and now living in Massachusetts, it’s easy to get trapped in my bubble of left-leaning news. A quick pre-midterm Google search, however, led me to one of the most disturbing pieces of news I’ve ever seen: the Christian Nationalist Great ReAwakening Festival in Pennsylvania. In a TikTok video from HuffPost, reporter Christopher Mathias joined the extremist roadshow festival of MAGA and QAnon conspiracy theorists. At the festival, Trump allies were on stage asking the crowd if they believed that the 2020 election was stolen (to which they all chanted in agreement) and said Christianity itself was under attack in America.
At the end of the festival, many attendees were baptized and Eric Trump went on stage with Donald Trump on speaker phone, who said that “we’re going to bring this country back, because our country’s never been in such bad shape as it is now.” The Washington Post reported many festival-goers claimed the country was going in a dangerous direction because of the liberals in power whose beliefs oppose their Protestant churches due to their support of Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ+ clergy, and “new culture garbage.” Many formerly mainstream Republicans were seen at this event embracing extremist right-wing Christian nationalism, which “advocates the fusion of American civic life with a particular kind of white, conservative Christianity,” according to The Washington Post.
While this seems like a sector of the Republican Party that is on the fringes, the support from the former President and other prominent Republicans show that this idea is becoming more mainstream. For example, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, a close ally of Trump, has been a huge proponent of pushing the Republican party towards Christian nationalism. The infamous far-right representative has even been selling shirts that say “Proud Christian Nationalist.”
Similarly, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis released an ad for his gubernatorial campaign depicting himself as a freedom fighter ordained by God. He began the ad saying, “And on the eighth day, God looked down on his planned paradise and said, ‘I need a protector.’ So God made a fighter.” While this seems somewhat outlandish for a political campaign, DeSantis won the reelection for governor with 59.4% of the votes. DeSantis has distanced himself from Trump and branded himself as an alternative Republican candidate for the 2024 presidential election; however, it’s clear that this seemingly extremist Christian nationalist movement of the Republican Party is widespread amongst ordinary voters and successful Republican politicians regardless of their support or lack thereof for Trump.
This news of this growing extremist movement in the United States is frightening enough on its own, but it gets worse. Despite having extremist right-wing Republicans in power, progressive Democrats are not being represented in the same way. Eighty-one-year-old Bernie Sanders from Vermont and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York represent the most progressive views in Congress, but their power and influence is minimal compared to extremist Republicans in Congress. When extremists on the far-right stage an attempted coup on the United States government and get multiple politicians in power who believe in implementing Christian nationalism, the country is clearly in trouble.
This isn’t to say that the Left is a minority or that the far-left isn’t putting up a fight– it’s clear in the midterms alone that Democrats and some independents are trying their hardest to keep these extremist Republicans out of power. However, the transformation of the Republican party under Trump is extremely dangerous and present in many corners of the party, whether or not the politicians are explicitly aligned with Trump himself. The Republican party might reconsider Trump’s role in it and try to clean up their image after not succeeding in the midterms the way they thought they would, but either way, many are already in support of this far-right extremism. Democrats thankfully beat many extremist Republicans in the midterms, preventing the anticipated “Red Wave,” but with Trump now saying he’s running for reelection in 2024, the fight must continue to keep extremist, Christian nationalist, election-denier Republicans out of power.