(Excerpted from “How the Right Lost Its Mind” pp. 211-213)
The demand that conservatives drop their objections and conform was also taken up by the grassroots.
In Wisconsin, even after I stepped down from my daily radio show, there were calls for pogroms against conservatives (like me) who might dissent from the new regime. The publisher of the Wisconsin Conservative Digest, for instance, sent out a blast email excoriating conservatives who had not backed Trump, calling them “Judas goats,” suggesting that activists retaliate against them after the election. This was curious, because just months earlier (in August 2016) the same publisher had sent out a similar mass email calling on the GOP to repudiate Trump. “If the top leaders, not the old timers of the party stand up and disavow him and tell him to get out let pence (sic) carry the mail we could at least stop the rest of the bleeding,” he wrote onAugust 15. Within weeks, he had decided to back Trump and began castigating dissidents.
After the election, he ratcheted up the recriminations, which were aimed not merely at me (I was about to go off the air,) but other hosts and conservative activists who had been critical of the new president.
We remember those Benedict Arnolds that tried that, in 1964 and 1980. Where are those people? They died alone and unloved?
Be smart, turn off Charlie and relegate him to the trash bin. Same with [Green Bay host Jerry] Bader… Why listen to someone trying to get you to commit suicide?
Can you endorse their backstabbing? Why? …
Let them swing slowly, slowly in the wind. Do not be scared of these clowns, call them, kick them in the knees or other places…
Do you think that they got their thirty pieces of Silver?
Another talk show host, Mark Belling, struck a similar note. Belling, who is based in Milwaukee and occasionally fills in for Rush Limbaugh, was also originally a fierce Trump critic, calling him a "'blowhard,” “buffoon,” “clown,” “fraud,” and, a “liberal,” before reluctantly saying that he would vote for him because he was preferable to Clinton. (The story that reported Belling’s flip-flop also quoted me: “But don't expect Milwaukee's other top talker, Charlie Sykes, to join the ranks of Trumpkins. "#NeverTrump means never Trump," said Sykes, whose show airs on WTMJ-AM (620). "But I am also #NeverHillary.)
After the election, Belling lashed out at “egghead anti-Trumpers,” arguing that “the first few months of Trump's presidency will require the full support of all committed conservatives.” Belling went on to suggest that conservative non-profit groups “clean house” of Trump skeptics if they betrayed the “Trump Revolution.” If conservative think tanks “allow themselves to be co-opted by spoilsport brats who hop in bed with the enemy,” Belling insisted “they are not only no longer needed in this state but will be counter-productive.”
Belling insisted that while he was “not suggesting a purge,” he was “clearly implying that treason against the new conservative cause is possible.” [Emphasis added.] If “fellow travelers in the ‘I Hate Trump Club’ use Wisconsin organizations to fight against their own groups' very mission, it is imperative that the organizations' boards clean house.”
(Note: As it turned out, Belling got his wish, at least with regards to me.)