Some observers thought it quaint – and some in the GOP even embraced it – when Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton described Donald Trump's supporters in 2016 as "a basket of deplorables"; and even eight years before that when presidential candidate Barack Obama described working-class voters as those who "cling to guns or religion."
But to hear the mainstream media tell it now, Republicans who support the 45th president are nothing short of Hitler. A sampling of media comments includes: "That MAGA symbol has come to represent something. It is the new Nazi symbol." … "It's a dime-store front for a terrorist movement." … "There are elements of the GOP that are starting to look like the jihadists." … "They're a white nationalist movement. They're a fascist threat to our nation."
And it doesn't help matters that President Biden, who ran on a unity message, sneers when he describes Trump supporters as "ultra-MAGA" and "semi-fascist."
Gary Bauer of American Values contends the dangerous rhetoric is a dog whistle meant to enrage Republicans to the point where they lash out, opening the door for Democrats to claim another January 6th. But if the GOP doesn't take the bait, Bauer fears the violence would come from the Left anyway.
"If you believe that quasi-Nazis are getting ready to take over America, what would you do if that was true? There would be nothing off the table," he tells AFN. After all, he says, Democrats – since 2016 – have had a wing of their base that has been violently attacking what they consider fascist. It's even in their name: Antifa.
But Bauer says as they typically do, Democrats are accusing the MAGA crowd of exactly what they themselves are doing. It's called "projection" – the attribution of one's own ideas, feelings, or attitudes to other people or groups.
"Which side wants to take away your right to defend your family with a firearm?" Bauer asks. "Which side closed our churches and used COVID as the excuse, but demanded that abortion clinics stay open? Which party is using the social media oligarchs to censor conservative viewpoints? Who has launched attacks against the right to assemble?"
When asked about Biden's "semi-fascist" remark last week, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre defended the president. "He called it what it is," she replied, adding Biden considers it his responsibility to be "the strongest voice for democracy."