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History As It Happens

Mar 30, 2023

Former President Donald Trump held his first rally of the 2024 campaign near a special place in far-right mythology. Thirty years ago in Waco, Texas, federal agents lay siege to the Branch Davidian compound where charismatic religious leader David Koresh awaited the end of the world. In this episode, historian Nicole Hemmer contends Trump's choice of location was a deliberate move to stoke anti-government vibes among militias, white supremacists, sovereign citizens, and similar groups whose visibility dramatically grew during his presidency. Their ideas have bled into the mainstream of American political life, but their origins date to the 1970s -- mostly from the Mountain West and Pacific Northwest. Trump may be drawing a direct line from Waco to January 6 as a campaign motif. He ended his presidency by embracing political violence to attempt to overthrow the 2020 election, and then used his first rally of the 2024 election cycle to glorify the people serving time for the attack on the Capitol.