Donald Trump, smiling, rally, Phoenix, AZ
Donald Trump speaking at a campaign rally at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, AZ. Photo credit: Gage Skidmore / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED)

What right-wing puppet masters have been trying to subtly accomplish from the shadows, Trump and his supporters have done in a brutish way and in plain sight.

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Twenty years ago, long before people were familiar with the concept of online content “going viral,” a video made the rounds on the internet that has since been viewed tens of millions of times. It shows a clip of a group of players in the online game World of Warcraft coming up with an intricate plan of how to defeat the enemy. One of them purportedly was away from the screen during these deliberations and, upon returning, barged into the dungeon with the now-famous war cry, “Leeroy Jenkins!” and promptly got everybody killed.

Donald Trump is the Leeroy Jenkins of politics… He is ill prepared for the job, reckless, and, quite frankly, not so bright. As bad as he has been, things could have been much worse if he were not a bumbling egomaniac looking to make money

To understand this editorial, you should really watch this 3-minute video (if you are one of the few people who have not yet seen it).

So what does it mean when we say that Trump is the Leeroy Jenkins of politics? It’s simple. Like the World of Warcraft party in the clip, the GOP and its allies have been plotting and laying the groundwork for a radical remaking of the political landscape. 

Their mission was clear. Many years ago, it became apparent that, in a true democracy, US Republicans would slowly wither away. Their policies were unpopular, their voters old, and on issues important to young people, like reproductive rights and climate change, they were on the wrong side of history. 

However, instead of adapting their politics to appeal to new demographics, conservatives came up with a much more audacious plan: Create a country in which a minority could rule the majority.

They’ve been at it for decades. 

While GOP lawmakers have been passing voter suppression laws and gerrymandering congressional districts, extremely well-funded activists have worked tirelessly to remake the judiciary to advance their causes, including dismantling election integrity laws and allowing corporations and billionaires to spend untold sums of “dark money” to influence whom Americans should elect and what they should believe. 

And, because there is no easier way to reach voters than through TV, talk radio, and (eventually) the internet, an entire right-wing propaganda machine emerged for the same purpose. 

Furthermore, Republicans have long benefitted from some provisions in the Constitution. Specifically, the Electoral College allowed them to win the presidency while losing the popular vote. In Congress, the fact that every state, regardless of its size, gets two senators, coupled with filibuster rules, allowed them to block any meaningful reform measures. 

In other words, like the band of warriors in World of Warcraft who are creating an intricate battle plan to conquer their enemy, the likes of the Koch brothers, Leonard Leo, and Rupert Murdoch have spent billions on laying the groundwork to create a country in which a right-wing minority would be able to oppress the rest of Americans.

And in both cases, one selfish person either ruins the plans with their oafish behavior or, in Trump’s case, could undo all of that hard work right-wing operatives have done in the shadows. 

When talking about the former president, people often focus on how bad he is. And that’s undeniably true. He has done great harm to the United States and, if elected a second time, he would be a tremendous threat to democracy and the country’s institutions. 

However, if he were smarter, or more on the same page with all of those forces trying to establish a right-wing minority rule, he could have done so much more damage already.

In that sense, the country has been lucky. 

Fortunately, Trump’s sole focus is Trump: Trump getting power, Trump making money, Trump being adored, and Trump staying out of prison. 

Unless it serves him, he has little interest in establishing a tyranny of the minority (unless that were a minority of one). Sure, he has often been a useful stooge for these right-wing puppeteers, for example, when appointing the federal judges he was told to nominate; but, in general, the former president only does things when there is something in it for himself. 

Sadly, his own interests and those of these conservative oligarchs align in many cases. 

Take Trump’s coup attempt, which was preceded by weeks of undermining the security of US elections. The Big Lie certainly suits all those forces who support voter suppression laws because it makes their job easier.

But it also exposed the dark side of the MAGA movement for all to see. What those right-wing puppet masters had been trying to subtly accomplish from the shadows, Trump’s troops did in a brutish way and in plain sight. It is important to remember that what these conservatives are trying to do is wildly unpopular, both when it comes to their policies — as we saw in the abortion decision — and also in terms of non-MAGA Americans not looking kindly on someone undermining their democracy. 

In his own right, let’s not forget, Trump himself is deeply unpopular outside of a loyal cult following. In 2020, a record number of Americans of all stripes turned out, not to support an unpopular Joe Biden but rather to oppose the even more unpopular incumbent. 

The last parallel is that, just like Leeroy Jenkins gave his teammates no choice but to support him in the foolish attack that led to their collective demise, the former president is forcing the GOP to condone and defend even his most indefensible actions and words.They have so firmly hitched their car to the Trump train that if it does go over the cliff, they are also doomed.  

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