On a morning in March, a 30-year-old computer technician named Nathan was tapping at the keyboard in his Pittsburgh home when he had a breakthrough with his support group. He wasn’t in rehab. And this wasn’t exactly AA. Nathan told me that for years, he’s fought alcoholism and an addiction to crystal meth, without much success–until he discovered the online self-help network that changed his life, a Donald Trump-themed discussion forum on the website Reddit. It was there that, two months ago, after weeks of reading messages of self-improvement and positive visualization, Nathan declared he had been saved, pecking out a message of hope and encouragement to his group under the title: “Quitting Drugs Because of Trump.”
“Trump has inspired me,” he wrote. “I’m getting sober and doing my bit to Make America Great Again. Thank you Donald!”
Nathan, who did not want his last name to be used for this story, is one of a substantial number of young men tapping into a growing informal online network: A dedicated denomination of self-improvement, built on the “teachings” of one Donald J. Trump. From his books, public statements, and general attitude toward the world, they’ve extracted a highly motivating philosophy of positive thinking and the virtues of self-love and brazening things out, as real men do. Their numbers are unknown, but the trend exists in the form of dozens of their posts flourishing online, bouncing across Trump discussion threads and Twitter and the right-wing blogosphere, peppered with buzzwords and moments of epiphany. “Donald J. Trump has already won, and changed my life,” declares one poster. “How Donald inspired me to be a great American once again” proclaims another. And many more: “Trump inspired me to change my life.” “Story of how Donald Trump changed my life around.” “Donald trumps campaign has changed me.” “Trump saved my life!” “Hey Brigadiers, stop wasting your time and learn what this is. Make Yourself Great Again.
In a phone conversation, Nathan told me that he had been able to turn his life around thanks to Trump’s “high energy” persona, his refusal to give in or be pushed around–and his declared abstinence from alcohol, tobacco or drugs. “I’ve had an ongoing fight to get off drugs, but this is the most successful I’ve ever been,” he said. “I was given the strength and the resolve of spirit to not buy drugs again.” He took a deep breath. “Through the Trump campaign.”
When Nathan posted his message to his Trump discussion thread last month, he was smothered by a wave of positive responses, each a variation on a familiar theme. “I’m also quitting booze for many reasons, Trump being one of them,” commented one user. Wrote another: “It might sound lame, but trying to be more like Donald has led to positive changes in my life.” A commenter described his own years-long drug habit, chiming in, “After reading 2 of Trump’s books I decided it’s time to quit.” And then, about two-thirds down, the prevailing leitmotif appeared:
“I just tell myself ‘it’s time to make myself great again.'”
In gargantuan, all-capital letters: “MYGA!”
Chris Cantwell and the alt-right also got a mention:
Go deep enough, and you’ll hit the so-called alt-right movement, an online waystation where MYGA has thrived most principally as an ideation of male virility. (The world of the alt-right is best known for creating the “#Cuckservative” hashtag—a racially tinged portmanteau of cuckold and conservative, created to call out those who are insufficiently far-right.)
Christopher Cantwell, a controversial anarchist-libertarian blogger from New Hampshire who has also credited Trump with helping him treat his drug addiction, is one of the denizens of this site. “There’s certainly an attitude toward the striking back against the emasculation of men,” Cantwell told me. “Let’s promote rugged masculinity–and that would be striving to be a more dominant strong, assertive person.” In an hour-long conversation, Cantwell riffed on the MYGA theme to describe his frustration that transgenderism isn’t treated as a neurological disorder; why taking the stigma out of mental illness was misguided; and how he was fired from his job as a radio host when his boss worried he was insinuating that other races are genetically inferior to whites. All such things, he suggested, violate the principle of MYGA. (He also, in a Trumpian effort to grab the initiative in our interview, recorded an introduction that tried to frame the interview as a “conversation,” as if I had been a guest on his online radio show, and told me he’d release it if I misquoted him.)
[…]Cantwell referred me to an essay, How Strength Training Saved Me From Being a Cucked Leftfag, a rambling synthesis of male self-loathing whose main conclusion, apparently, is that leftism is anathema to weight training. “It was right and proper that the weak feel shame if their weakness is of their own making,” the author writes of his time in the weight room. “It’s a small but important part of becoming the man that you are meant to be, not only physically, but in every other way as well.”
What’s remarkable about the story, besides most importantly the revival of the American male, is how all the Politico writer seemed to take from it is it amounts to a bunch of “chest-puffing” and “middle school fantasies of ‘rugged masculinity.'”
This is why we’re going to smash these people, just like the rise of Trump, their brains cannot comprehend what’s coming.