#DarkMAGA is Here. But What Is It?
Forgive this Boomer-style guide to what might influence Trump 2024 online.
‘#DarkMAGA’ has been appearing across social media for just over a week. I’m trying to get to grips with it. What is Dark MAGA? And is the right going to be led down another Q-style garden path – “trusting the plan” only for a plot to never emerge?
If you ask some of the progenitors of #DarkMAGA, it’s not a Q thing, nor remotely close. It’s a response to Donald Trump being swallowed, in part, by Washington D.C. and the political blob. The endorsements. The appointees. The consultants. Dark MAGA says enough. And it appears to root itself in a synthwave style alternative reality that wonders what could have been, had Trump and his team pursued immorality and its favorite abode – the D.C. swamp –more forcefully.
Twitter user @Conan_Esq describes it as “the aesthetic demand that Trump embrace a harder and more focused approach to the role only he can fill. He was too kindhearted, too forgiving. Dark MAGA demands he learn from his mistakes.”
So far, so good. It’s what many of us have been saying. And behind closed doors, there are both plenty of MAGA stalwarts afraid that Trump’s team simply won’t allow this approach (“they actually want him to lose”) and neoconservative/neoliberal GOP hardliners who are open about wanting rid of Trump in 2024.
But that won’t stop some from trying to put the 2015 pep(e) back in Trump’s step; romanticizing the ‘Great Meme War’ of 2016, and positing a reformist method of campaigning for a man who became sidetracked by appeals to minority groups (see: “the Platinum Plan” and criminal justice reform) and convinced of the efficacy of his appalling campaign managers.
“Dark MAGA is Byronic—maximalist masculine hedonism—but a mature Byronic, a focused Byronic, a Byron driven to correct injustices against himself and those for whom he is responsible… Dark MAGA is the novel idea that we should play for keeps,” says early Dark MAGA adopter/influencer Conan, on Twitter.
The framing may seem antiquated. But antiquity knows much of civilizational decline.
"Byronic” appears to invoke Lord Byron’s poem entitled Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage – a long poetic lamentation of both war and excess, which contains a passage I once cited in a Claremont Institute Fellowship Spotlight:
"Here is the moral of all human tales, Tis but the same rehearsal of the past. First freedom and then glory; when that fails Wealth, vice, corruption, barbarism at last. And history, with all her volumes vast, Hath but one page."
What Dark MAGA appears to be saying is, “Hey, we’ve been here before. We know how to stop this. And it’s not going to be resolved by half measures.”
This part of the Byron’s poem served to inspire artist Thomas Cole in his ‘Course of Empire’ series – one of my favorites, which you can experience in 60 seconds in the video below:
But invariably, Dark MAGA will be set upon by the left. And probably the Feds. And probably also just a bunch of spoilers and “shit posters”. I’ve already started to notice some #DarkMAGA posts including the Nazi flag. Cue the hit piece from the Guardian, who will no doubt tell us that Ukraine’s Azov fighters are “only 10 percent Nazis” so we should send them lots of weapons and money; but that Dark MAGA is for sure a real National Socialist movement in America, the supporters of which must have their bank accounts frozen immediately.
But Dark MAGA is more than about political complaint. It sits, thematically, somewhere between synthwave and vaporwave – in an attempt to move on from the bright red hats and the dad dancing to ‘YMCA’.
Dark MAGA is about the course of empire, and where America stands in that process. It is simultaneously a rejection of decline, with an admission that so much has already occurred. And perhaps even the smirking suspicion that more must occur – especially at an institutional level – before America can be re-founded, or reformed.
It almost represents a last throw of the American dice.
Perhaps that’s why Dark MAGA has adopted MGMT’s Little Dark Age and its multitude of remixes as some of its theme songs . When the track was released in 2017, one critic called it “grim but playful,” further describing it as: "dark, but only a little, and the vibe feels appropriate for where they are now—older, and without office jobs, but recognizant of what's still gone wrong."
The review sounds a lot like what Dark MAGA people say. That they’re not under the impression that Trump’s staff will care about their campaign ideas necessarily, but that they’re not Q people.
“The difference between Q and us is that we know what's going on,” one Dark MAGA tweeter told me.
After Q and the “indisputable proof” of “machines flipping votes,” it feels impossible to recommend a new trend for the political right. Some are already skeptical, like this chap who goes by the name of “crazyfingers” on the Patriots.win website. Mr. Fingers says Dark MAGA “Looks like… a campaign asking Trump to actually take the gloves off when dealing with the deep state. Good luck with that. He's just as naïve now as he was during his term.”
Another user said of Dark MAGA: “It's twitter so I assume some kind of astroturf designed to make whitey look bad.”
It could be simpler, still.
“No, it's not connected to [Patriot Front] or other glowies. It's something the long time MAGA fans @ ‘Columbia Bugle’ came up with to freak out the Dimms and their brain dead NPCs. I too like fucking with them,” said Jack Lemon on Patriots.win.
I also enjoy fucking with them. And perhaps if that’s all Dark MAGA achieves it will have been a fun way to block and tackle online. The 2016 meme wars provided for much entertainment, though probably not many votes. What it did achieve, however, is giving Trump the “warts and all authenticity” as a contrast with Hillary Clinton’s appearances on Ellen, her tweets about emojis, and her pandering hot sauce moments.
Juxtapose the above with Trump retweeting spicy memes made by “GodEmporerKek” or whomever, and the authenticity question was easily answered.
Between its scan line imagery and ethereal electronica, Dark MAGA folks aren’t always living in the current timeline. They feel apart from accepted norms. Pushed out of them, in most instances. But for all the “dark” talk, they also seem quite happy about it. I know I would be, if my options were interesting and quirky vs absolutely cringe memes.
“Giddy with delight, seeing what's to come; The image of the dead, dead ends in my mind,” so the lyrics of Little Dark Age go. Dark MAGA is certainly giddy, seeing what’s to come. And I have a feeling it’s going to get us in all the best kinds of trouble, again.