A week after outgoing president Donald Trump lost the 2020 election to his Democratic rival, president-elect Joe Biden, Trump supporters convened in Washington, D.C. for the so-called “Million MAGA March.” But the march itself was a misnomer — nowhere near a million mask-less Trump supporters gathered in the midst of a global pandemic to shamelessly promote their allegiance to a lame duck president. Instead, it’s estimated that a few thousand supporters — including members of the Proud Boys and other white supremacist groups — waving “Fuck Biden” flags staged a flash-mob type tantrum for those who were hoping for four more years of Trump.
The “demonstration” embodied what the country has come to expect from Trump and those who support him, even in defeat: there were racist signs — like one that read “coming for Blacks and Indians first welcome to the new world order,” shocking even Fox News anchor Eric Shawn — and heavily-armed wannabe militiamen in Call of Duty cosplay. And of course, there were thousands marching to “stop the steal” chants while Trump staged a “drive by” in which he waved at supporters from the safety of his motorcade.
But it’s the lies that shrouded the “MAGA March” — from the right-wing ideologies steeped in fiction, to the conspiracy theories the president himself is relying on to justifying his decision not to concede, to the laughable distortions of reality — that gave Trump the send-off befitting of his Emperor’s New Clothes presidency.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany was the first to bring four years of Trump full circle. “AMAZING! More than one MILLION marchers for President @realdonaldtrump descend on the swamp in support,” she tweeted on Saturday. But considering the fact that Trump’s presidency kicked off with then-White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer lying about Trump’s inauguration crowd size, it seems fitting that it would end with McEnany lying about the number of people who came out to support Trump in his election loss.
And then there were the more insidious lies about so-called Antifa-led violence, some of which were perpetuated by the president himself. Trump spent the weekend tweeting and retweeting claims of “Radical Left” and “Black Lives Matter” violence, including a strategically cut video meant to show BLM protestors “attacking” an elderly white man. The full video, however, showed that it was the white male Trump supporter who first violently attacked counter protestors.
A number of other Republicans, including incoming GOP members of the House, were invested in perpetuating the lie that anti-Trump protestors were responsible for random acts of violence and destruction. Marjorie Taylor Greene, congresswoman-elect for Georgia’s 14th district and avid QAnon believer and supporter, claimed she needed a “police escort” from the Trump hotel to her Lyft. “The streets of DC were a war-zone, but I was left defenseless bc of anti-gun Democrats who run this city,” she tweeted, along with a picture of her standing next to a police officer who looked more like a battle-hardened desert dweller from a George Miller post-apocalyptic film than a community servant.
In reality, the Million MAGA March was just another example of Trump galvanizing his supporters to sow discord and divide the country — even well after he lost the election with no evidence to suggest it was "rigged." And if the Million MAGA March personified the Trump administration, it is also a dying coal mine canary warning us of what’s to come. On January 20, 2021, Trump will leave office. But his legacy of lies, racism, conspiracy theories, and violent rhetoric meant to target the most marginalized among us, will remain.