Inside MAGA’s Plan to Take Over America

FINISH WHAT WE STARTED: The MAGA Movement’s Ground War to End Democracy, by Isaac Arnsdorf

Despite Steve Bannon’s Wall Street pedigree, his taste for five-star hotels and billionaire-owned yachts, he is truly a man of the people — that, at least, is the impression he strains to convey each time he appears in “Finish What We Started: The MAGA Movement’s Ground War to End Democracy,” a new book by Isaac Arnsdorf, a journalist at The Washington Post.

As far as Bannon is concerned, anyone who complains that Donald Trump’s far-right supporters are on the fringes of the fringe, an extremist minority bent on undermining what most Americans actually want, is just a whiner who can go cry some more. As he put it at the Conservative Political Action Conference in the summer of 2022: “All they talk about on MSNBC is ‘democracy, democracy, democracy.’ We’re gonna give them a democracy suppository on Nov. 8!”

The line was classic Bannon: gleeful, bombastic, mildly disgusting. It would also turn out to be wrong. The “red wave” that he and other MAGA enthusiasts envisioned for that year’s midterm elections never materialized; a number of Trump’s handpicked candidates had sailed through their primaries but struggled to prevail in the general election.

Still, Bannon would not be deterred. In the book, he keeps insisting to Arnsdorf that most of the country is MAGA, even if some of those MAGA supporters don’t know it yet. “Bannon believed the MAGA movement, if it could break out of being suppressed and marginalized by the establishment, represented a dominant coalition that could rule for a hundred years,” Arnsdorf writes.

There have been several books about the Trumpification of the Republican Party focused on the politicians and operatives who allowed such a transformation to happen. “Finish What We Started” focuses instead on the ordinary foot soldiers in the MAGA grass roots — the “faces in the crowd” who, in the aftermath of Jan. 6, continued to insist that the 2020 presidential election had been stolen and are determined to never let such an outrage happen again.

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