Earlier this year, Donald Trump held the first official rally of his 2024 presidential campaign in Waco, Texas.
On the face of it, Waco was an unusual location. With 143,984 inhabitants, Waco is the 24th largest city in the state. It was chosen, according to the Trump campaign, due to its “central location” which is “close” to the larger cities of Dallas and Houston.
A look back into the history books reveals why the former president would choose such a unique spot to launch a campaign.
The Legacy Of Waco
Almost thirty years to the day of Trump’s March rally, Waco was shaken by a two-month long siege involving a religious cult known as the Branch Davidians. Suspected of harboring illegal weapons, the siege ended in a mass shootout on April 19 in which 76 people (including 28 children) were killed.
Exactly two years later, on April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh destroyed the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building using a truck bomb to claim the lives of 168 people.
Citing Waco as his primary motivation, McVeigh, seeking retribution, conducted what remains the deadliest domestic terrorist attack in American history.
Trump In Texas
“[Trump’s] making a statement, I believe, by coming to these stomping grounds where the government, the FBI, laid siege on this community just like they laid siege on Mar‐a‐Lago and went in and took his stuff,” Charles Pace, a Branch Davidian pastor told the Texas Tribune. “He’s not coming right out and saying, ‘Well, I’m doing it because I want you to know what happened there was wrong.’ But he implies it.”
Trump’s rally began with a rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” titled “Justice For All” by a group of 20 inmates who were jailed for their involvement in January 6.
“For seven years, you and I have been taking on the corrupt, rotten, and sinister forces trying to destroy America,” he told the crowd. “They’re not going to do it, but they do get closer and closer with rigged elections.”
“As far as the eye can see, the abuses of power that we’re currently witnessing at all levels of government will go down as among the most shameful, corrupt, and depraved chapters in all of American history,” he said.
“They’re not coming after me,” he told the crowd. “They’re coming after you.”
The core of Trump’s campaign is to right the wrongs of the federal government.
Trump himself believes he is the subject of persecution, in a similar fashion to the Branch Davidsons. Now, he’s seeking retribution by clamoring for a political destruction of the government through re-election.
Perhaps most worrying about the similarities from the ‘90s is that both Waco and Oklohoma ended in the deaths of Americans. It’s a horrifying thought to wonder whether history could repeat itself.
Shay Bottomley is a British journalist based in Canada. He has written for the Western Standard, Maidenhead Advertiser, Slough Express, Windsor Express, Berkshire Live and Southend Echo, and has covered notable events including the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own.
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