I've got to admit my bias, as a fan of Sarah Kendzior, but I think she absolutely does nail it here. Trump's goal in his entire term of office has been to delegitimize American institutions, and he has one more big play left: to delegitimize and throw into dispute the results of the 2020 presidential election, causing even more chaos.
SARAH KENDZIOR: Yeah. I mean, that's obviously a perk. The element of this, but this is happening to real people in real time and the goal is simple. The goal is taking away the right to protest. The goal is taking away free speech, freedom of assembly and broadly labeling anybody who critiques or opposes him as a terrorist. These protests are coming hand in hand with an executive order that has an extremely broad definition of terrorism in which they're designating groups that are rising up against Trump like Black Lives Matter or simply fighting for their civil rights as terrorists. It has a retroactive component as well meaning that people who participated in prior arrests could be considered as terrorists. This is a classic authoritarian move. Russia and other, you know, authoritarian regimes have embraced these tactics all the time and they also have a history in the u.s. while I understand this view of performative authoritarianism, the other thing to know is Trump is not concerned with winning the election. He is trying to steal the election. A person concerned with winning tries to expand their base. They try to win people over. They try to seem more engaged and more popular. They don't let their base die of coronavirus for example so those are all things to take into account as we move forward.
She later expanded on this on Twitter:
He's using the same strategy he had in 2016, which is to build a cult movement instead of an election base. He can then weaponize that cult for violence whether he loses or is reinstalled. They're not thinking in terms of Nov, but beyond it, using multiple mechanisms of control.
— Sarah Kendzior (@sarahkendzior) July 25, 2020