There were cheers and hoarse hoots. There were Secret Service agents and metal detectors, food trailers in the tall grass, and loudspeakers singing songs of Elton John and Dolly Parton. There were flags, hats and T-shirts proclaiming Donald Trump the real winner of the 2020 election – or the man to beat in 2024.
And above us, a small plane dragged a banner that proclaimed, “Ohio is Trump’s country.
This bizarre carnival, which took place on Saturday under the slogan Save America !, was the scene of Trump’s first post-presidential campaign rally and a loud warning to Democrats – and democracy – that his cult of personality does not. ‘never disappeared. He just slept and, in hibernation, got more and more extreme.
Although Trump has lost his high-tech social media spokesperson, he still has the low-tech way to stand in a field and tell dangerous lies to thousands of fans whose adulation and sense of the grievances know no bounds.
“Every Trump rally is different and each one is beautiful,” said Deborah Wagner, 55, a retired clerk wearing a “Count All Legal Votes” t-shirt, who had driven four hours from New York to reach the park. Wellington Exhibitions. , Ohio. “We just want happiness and love for everyone. Trump is not a coward.
For all the good humor, the T-shirts of the participants held an inverted mirror facing reality: “Trump won, take care of it”; “Re-elect Trump. Make the Liberals cry again ”; “Don’t blame me, I voted for Trump”; “Trump 2024. Make votes count again”; “Fuck Biden. Trump 2024 ”; “Biden is not my president”; “Unmasked, unmasked, unvaccinated, without fear”.
Everyone the Guardian interviewed took for granted that last year’s election was stolen from Trump, and some even clung to the belief that he would somehow be reinstated. As for the Jan. 6 uprising on the U.S. Capitol, the only disagreement was whether they were true patriots fighting for a just cause or infiltration by Antifa and Black Lives Matter (there is no proof of this).
Under the gentle evening sun, with rumbling freight trains, Trump came out to the delightful chant of “USA!” USA! “And threw caps into the crowd.” After five months, “he said, wearing his usual dark suit, white shirt and red tie,” the Biden administration is already complete and a total disaster. “
In a 94-minute speech, the former president complained of increased crime, weakened police, “illegal aliens” invading the southern border, drug cartels back in business. , schools turned into “left-wing indoctrination camps” and critical racial theory – the mention aroused great interest. boos – being “forced on the military”. He added: “Joe Biden is destroying our nation before our very eyes.”
Trump, whose company could face criminal charges from the Manhattan District Attorney, spoke of the urgency for Republicans to reclaim the House of Representatives and Senate in the midterm elections of next year. He backed Max Miller, a former White House aide challenging Anthony Gonzalez – a congressman who voted to impeach Trump – in a local Republican primary.
There have been moments of lagging behind and returning to his wildly improvised first campaign five years ago. When Trump pointed out “fake news media,” supporters hooted and pointed to the middle finger. “Do you miss me? I miss them. They look at their appalling ratings and say, ‘We miss this guy.’ ‘Later the crowd chanted,’ CNN sucks! And a mention of Hillary Clinton elicited cries of “Lock her up!”
Trump pushed “the big lie” in TV interviews and email statements, but now he’s been made flesh. “What happened in the election is a shame,” he said, launching into long, winding riffs that she was “rigged”, insisting “We didn’t not lost “and exploring supposed irregularities state by state.
“It was the scam of the century and it was the crime of the century,” he said. “We will never stop fighting for the real results of this election… Remember, I am not the one trying to undermine American democracy. I’m trying to save American democracy. His false allegation of electoral fraud was refuted by his own attorney general, state election officials and judges.
But in this corner of Ohio, a flagship state he won, it was an article of faith. The crowd shouted, “Trump won! Trump won!
When Marjorie Taylor Greene, a far-right Republican congresswoman from Georgia, asked them, “Who is your president? “, They replied:” Trump! Greene bitterly said he should still be the president but “the dirty rotten Democrats stole the election.”
Heir to the 45th president’s policy of outrage, Greene also said she wanted to fire Anthony Fauci, a leading infectious disease expert and coronavirus pandemic advisor, prompting cries of “Lock him up!” The congresswoman asked happily, “Did you hear that Tony?” They want you locked up.
She echoed a similar comment about Democratic Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York City before making the blatantly racist statement: “She’s not an American. She doesn’t embrace our American ways.
Indeed, the rally was a vivid demonstration of how distortions in the right-wing political and media ecosystem are seeping into the grassroots with real-world consequences.
Wagner, the retired clerk, argued that last year’s poll was “criminally stolen” and cited a fringe website as evidence. If Trump does not run in 2024, she would like to see his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, a great conspiracy theorist, become the Republican candidate; she was not the only one to float her name.
Wagner is looking after her 12-year-old grandson and said she plans to take him out of school if coronavirus vaccinations become mandatory and critical breed theory is taught. “People who call people racists are actually racists,” she said. “I treat everyone the same at all levels.”
Critical Race Theory examines systemic racism in law and institutions, but has been caricatured and demonized by Republicans. Trump used the rally to call for his ban on schools, the military and other areas of life.
Gary Bartlett, 65, who refuses to be vaccinated, has condemned critical race theory. “It’s about teaching five, six, seven year olds that you are meant to be oppressed and white children are meant to be oppressors,” he said. “I don’t think critical race theory has a place in schools. There is not as much racism as the Democrats want us to believe. “
Bartlett, of Lexington, Ohio, a retired worker at General Motors, attended his first Trump rally, having consistently voted Democrats until he switched to Trump in 2016. He too thinks the 2020 election were stolen. “There was too much on TV showing polling stations and too many rumors. When I drive in Ohio and other states, I see Trump signs everywhere; there’s no way Biden could have gotten so many votes.
Randy Weld, 53, a freelance carpenter, wore a black T-shirt that proclaimed “If you don’t like Trump, then you probably don’t like me… and I’m okay with that”. He said he “most definitely” wanted to see Trump run for president again in 2024. “The best president we’ve ever had. He’s a man from America.
What if Trump steps down? “I would like to see his son run. I would like to see younger blood.
When asked if Trump is due in 2024, David Snell, 55, a logistics specialist who was at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 but did not enter the building, said: “Earlier than it. I have the impression that he is coming back very soon. He could be reinstated as president. God exposes what is going on. There was fraud, 100%.
Gary Sherrill, 65, a cement mixer operator wearing a ‘Make America great again’ cap, added, “There’s no doubt in my mind that Biden stole it. But asked for proof, he replied, “I just know it in my heart. And I trust Trump when he says it’s true.
Trump’s rallies flourished in 2016 by featuring an insurgent campaign against the status quo. He has yet to pledge to run in 2024, but once again he’s Washington’s underdog, striking a chord in agitated crowds with slurs against a Democratic president.
Rose Kidd, 63, a retired nurse who watches conservative Newsmax and One America News Network, said of Biden: “We have borders wide open because of this idiot. He cannot compose a sentence; it is not there cognitively. He’s not much older than Trump, but Trump is still very sharp. Their agenda is to destroy America; President Trump’s agenda is to save America.