Power Structures

President Trump 2.0 Is Gunning for a Massacre

It’s not hyperbole to say the re-election of the former president—twice indicted, with 91 felony counts against him—will threaten the safety of the nation and the world. His failed insurrection is merely a blueprint of what he can, and likely will accomplish if given another four years.

This article was made possible because of the generous support of DAME members.  We urgently need your help to keep publishing. Will you contribute just $5 a month to support our journalism?

It’s early in 2025 and the days are still short. The country is wracked by protests against President Trump’s moves to consolidate power into the dictatorship he promised. The administration has invoked the Insurrection Act, deployed the military, and declared that any protesters out after sundown will face “fire and fury.”  There are U.S. troops surrounding the 100,000-plus protesters in cities across the country. Late in the afternoon, one of the mobilized soldiers accidentally fumbles a magazine, and a protester can see that it does not contain rubber bullets—it’s full of NATO-standard, 5.56 x 45 green-tip rounds. 

“They’re going to kill us all!” yells the protester, which sparks a stampede of panicked people desperate to get away from the troops. 

Every military leader, every soldier, had been offered a choice: Pull the trigger and receive a full presidential pardon for any crime they might commit or face court martial and a life sentence (or worse) for treason. Most flag officers willing to say “no” have already been removed. The troops have mostly been brought in from other states, and particularly red-state national guard units. As the appointed hours hit and the last rays of light dip below the horizon, orders are followed and rifle fire thunders from every direction. People drop by the hundreds as they scream and run through the chaotic clouds of tear gas and live rounds cracking past them. There’s no escape: They’ve been kettled and marked for death as traitors and insurrectionists by Trump to ensure no one will ever challenge his authority again because his wish for violence against those who dared oppose him has finally come true.

This nightmare scenario might sound far-fetched to some. But it shouldn’t. Donald Trump not only has promised to use the military against protesters; he’s already done so. And he’s laying the groundwork to do it again—and make it even more gruesome.

Over the past few months, Trump is positioning himself to be a dictator from Day One, should he get voted back into the Oval Office. He has demonized everyone who disagrees with the MAGA vision for the U.S., calling his critics “vermin” as he did in his most recent Veteran’s Day speech, and vowing to eradicate them: “We pledge to you that we will root out the communists, Marxists, fascists and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country.” In this same speech, he claimed that these “vermin” will “do anything, whether legally or illegally, to destroy America and to destroy the American Dream,” and that “the threat from outside forces is far less sinister, dangerous and grave than the threat from within.”

This sort of language is disconcerting by itself, but it becomes far more sinister and alarming when you add in his past statements and the things his former cabinet members say he will do.

Trump has made it clear to his audience that anyone who pushes back against him or his agenda is an enemy of the herrenvolk (the “master people”—a concept in Nazi ideology). He has a long history of encouraging violence against people who protest his administration. In 2017, Trump called for activists at his rallies to be beaten by police. In 2020, former Secretary of Defense Mark Esper alleged that Trump wanted to invoke the Insurrection Act to authorize shooting anti-Trump activists in Washington D.C. When Esper argued against this course of action, Trump reportedly asked, “Can’t you just shoot them? Just shoot them in the legs or something?” Esper’s refusal to go along with this mass shooting plan was reportedly a significant factor in why Trump fired him after the 2020 Election.

Trump has frequently voiced his deep admiration for dictators who refuse to tolerate dissent, like Vladimir Putin, who imprisons protesters, and then sends them to the front lines in Ukraine as cannon fodder, and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un, who quashes any dissent with the arbeit macht frei treatment. Most damningly, in a 1990 Playboy interview, Trump has praised the way China handled pro-democracy protesters in 1989: “Then they were vicious, they were horrible, but they put it down with strength,” he said. “That shows you the power of strength. Our country is right now perceived as weak … as being spit on by the rest of the world.”

These same words could have been uttered yesterday, establishing Trump’s long-standing belief that the only appropriate response to protests against an anti-democratic government is overwhelming military force that could result in a massacre.

The good news: In 2020, the guardrails of democracy were strong enough to stop him from getting the slaughter he wanted. The bad news: He’s learned his lesson and will do everything he can to preemptively tear down those guardrails so that no one will be able to stop him from seeking his craven revenge. 

This isn’t speculative: Trump and the Heritage Foundation promise that the entire senior cadre of the federal government, including the Department of Justice and FBI, will be denuded of anyone suspected of disloyalty to the president and his agenda using Schedule F. That’s 50,000 senior people potentially replaced with unqualified sycophants and ideologues.

The U.S. Constitution also grants the president power to appoint, or revoke, the commissions of military officers. Trump likely will weaponize this power to quickly remove any officers suspected of not being loyal enough to him to follow orders that are morally repugnant (like, say, shooting thousands of protesters). Trump has stated that the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff should be executed for treason. Whether this is done by using his weaponized Department of Justice or by a Court Martial headed by officers hand-picked by Trump is irrelevant. The message is the point: “Do what the President says or go to prison.”

Trump also intends to invoke the Insurrection Act on Day One if he returns to the White House. Specifically, he would put down the inevitable protests that would come after his election. The Insurrection Act itself is practically a blank check to use the military within the United States, and it has a strong chance of being upheld by the Supreme Court. He’s conveyed that he regrets not invoking it in 2020, and now his inner circle is strongly in favor of it.

In addition to Schedule F, and using the DoJ against anyone who opposes him, Axios reports that Trump has other ways of removing any opposition within the government, like his plan to appoint only acting heads of various agencies. This means his handpicked heads will bypass the Senate, allowing him to put ill-suited people in those positions. Recall Trump’s promise to bring back intensely pro-Russian, convicted felon Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, whom he pardoned.

And pardons are the carrot Trump will dangle in front of members of the military to commit crimes or atrocities. Trump not only pardoned Flynn but former SEAL Eddie Gallagher as a reward for committing crimes of which he approved of. Former cabinet members expect Trump to offer pardons to anyone he asks to commit a potential crime. And the stick? For military leaders, it is the threat of a trip to Fort Leavenworth.

You can see how this quickly plays out: Right after Trump takes office, he sacks most of the military leadership flagged by The Heritage Foundation as being potentially “disloyal.”  These lists are already being made for Project 2025.

Trump inevitably does something that sparks protests and invokes the Insurrection Act. He tells military leadership he wants it put down hard. He hints at a pardon if some eggs get broken. Anyone who balks is threatened with either sacking or prison. Most of his hand-picked flag officers understand that he will be upset if there isn’t violence. Many of them were picked specifically because they already agree with his assessment that the protesters are “vermin” who are “communists and Marxists” destroying the country.

At this point, the U.S. has already lost, no matter what happens next. Even the “best-case” scenario (the military conducting mass arrests of protesters) is still effectively martial law being used to suppress constitutionally guaranteed First Amendment rights, and will likely ramp up unrest even further.

However, if military leadership refuses or resigns en masse we have effectively lost civilian control over the military, which has never happened before. It’s even worse if he gets his massacre; far from cowing the American public into submission, it will likely spur further opposition to his administration. Trump thinks the lesson of Tiananmen Square was that you can kill your way out of popular unrest. The opposite is far more likely to be true: A massacre is more likely to pour gasoline on the fire than to put it out. The Kent State shooting sparked wider protests and public outrage. What Trump wants is likely to be so much worse.


Before you go, we hope you’ll consider supporting DAME’s journalism.

Today, just tiny number of corporations and billionaire owners are in control the news we watch and read. That influence shapes our culture and our understanding of the world. But at DAME, we serve as a counterbalance by doing things differently. We’re reader funded, which means our only agenda is to serve our readers. No both sides, no false equivalencies, no billionaire interests. Just our mission to publish the information and reporting that help you navigate the most complex issues we face.

But to keep publishing, stay independent and paywall free for all, we urgently need more support. During our Spring Membership drive, we hope you’ll join the community helping to build a more equitable media landscape with a monthly membership of just $5.00 per month or one-time gift in any amount.

Support Dame Today

Become a member!