Following President Trump’s airstrike in Syria, where over 50 cruise missiles were launched at a Syrian airbase in response to a chemical attack, something remarkable happened: Trump’s “America First” base revolted.
First, #SyriaHoax started trending on Twitter, which called into question whether Assad’s government in Syria was responsible for the gas attack – many believed that it was a false flag attack by either Turkey, Saudi Arabia, or CIA-backed rebels meant to draw the U.S. into war, similar to the false-flag chemical attack in 2013. As Ron Paul said, “does anyone believe that on the eve of peace talks, just after the White House said the Syrian people should choose their own leaders, that Assad would launch a gas attack to turn the whole world against him?”
Given the lack of evidence provided by the Trump administration and the intelligence community, such accusations weren’t surprising. What was surprising was who was making them – these accusations weren’t being made solely by Ron Paul and other perennial anti-war activists, but by a large array of right-wing grassroots activists, many of whom were still sporting red “Make America Great Again” hats in their Twitter profile pictures.
Other Trump voters took to Facebook to voice their opposition to the Syria strikes and to let others know they’ll stop supporting Trump if he continues to ignore the “America First” platform that he campaigned on. One pro-Trump grassroots organizer from Pennsylvania, Dmitri Anatolievich wrote: “if the US invades Syria then I’m going to support whoever tries to primary Trump in 2020.” Another Trump voter, Anthony Mayfield wrote: “we supported a peace candidate and received a war president, I’m not willing to be a part of this anymore.”
Many public figures on the right joined in opposition to U.S. involvement in the Syrian civil war, including long-time Trump supporters such as Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, Michael Savage, Nigel Farage, Paul Joseph Watson, Stefan Molyneux, Mike Cernovich, Lauren Southern, and many others.
Following reports that Trump Senior Strategist Steve Bannon opposed the Syria airstrike while Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner supported it, #FireKushner and #KushnerAtWar started trending on Twitter spontaneously, again thanks to an army of Twitter-warriors sporting “Make America Great Again” hats in their profile pictures.
What became clear in light of this response was that, unlike the anti-war left which disappeared during the Obama administration, many of Trump’s most ardent supporters are serious about their principles and will walk if Trump breaks his campaign promises to pursue a non-interventionist “America First” foreign policy.
What should worry the Trump administration is that this push-back to Trump’s policies is not limited to social media. A new grassroots lobby called Unity and Security for America is forming to push for non-interventionist and other America first policies. Jason Kessler, a grassroots organizer based in Virginia and a former Trump voter himself, is the founder of Unity and Security for America.
“Our members don’t think Trump is doing enough to push the America First agenda that he campaigned on,” said Kessler. “We see he’s expanding NATO, continuing Obama’s proxy-wars in Ukraine and Yemen, and now he’s bombing Syria – none of those policies put America first.”
“Meanwhile, we’re seeing very little done on the immigration front and common-sense ‘America First’ legislation like the Stop Arming Terrorists Act languishes in Congress,” Kessler added. “If we don’t see Trump pushing for the America First agenda, then we’ll take to the streets demanding the change our members voted for, much like the Tea Party did back in 2010 and earlier.”