A New Darkness Falls on the Trump Movement

Oh! Greene shook, then quickly reacted when I told her that I was a journalist. I'm not treated fairly by you [the media].These are not my usual days. It seemed strangely appropriate for the moment. Trump's reemergence on Americas political scene promises to cause a more severe disruption than the one that he caused six years ago when he climbed down the gilded escalator. His supporters once believed in him, but now they seem angry. The crowds are now more chaotic, the conspiracies seem more unbelievable, and the cast of characters is more bizarre.Greene, a freshman congresswoman hailing from Atlanta and self-described QAnon-repentant, was almost censured after she compared mask-wearing to the Holocaust and was expelled from her committees. In the past, such a resume would have put her on the fringes of her party. During our chat, she revealed how important she will be in the Trump comeback story.She claimed that the former president had invited her to the rally, and she plans to attend any of his events this summer, as schedule permits.Trump loves Greene because she is unapologetic, and he is not one to apologize or admit to wrongdoing. He praised Greene as a loved, respected, tough and smart woman, and praised her for being kind and caring.She explained that her tendency to make controversial statements was a result of her upbringing in northwest Georgia. She stated that she feels the media has unfairly treated her as a mother and businesswoman. However, the controversy surrounding her is often her own. For example, she said she believes the 2020 election was stolen. But, it has been proven repeatedly.As I sat in my row, half asleep and the other half awake, she never asked me to record. It had been a long 24 hour.Trump supporters listen to the ex-president speak at his rally in Cleveland. Nick Hagen for POLITICO MagazineTo cover Trump's first post-presidential rally, I had already traveled to the Lorain County fairgrounds in rural Northeast Ohio earlier that day. These events are a mix of a NASCAR tailgate or a traveling circus. Vendors come from faraway states to sell their MAGA hats or Trump T-shirts. Some people will wait for days to secure a top spot. Strangers will give one another high-fives, and honk their cars horns when they pass houses with Trump or F--- Biden flags.Trump was in town Saturday night to support Max Miller, a former White House adviser who won his endorsement partly due to his willingness to fight Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (one of 10 House Republicans who voted against impeaching Trump after the Jan. 6 Capitol Riot).However, no one seemed to be concerned about this. The congressional race was not something that many of the attendees were interested in. Two of the 16th District residents I spoke to didn't know Miller or Gonzalez.They wanted to hear from Trump, and if not, then from his supporting cast of allies, who eagerly feed the fraud that the 2020 election was stolen from voters like them.Mike Lindell, MyPillow CEO and Trump donor, has been a constant source of conspiracy theories regarding the election. He is now the defendant in a multimillion-dollar defamation suit by Dominion Voting Systems. Lindell was treated like a rock star. He posed with his fans in a suit and tie, his sweaty face glistening, while they cheered for him.Although Lindell was one of the main actors in the evening, the play itself was a fantasy set around November 2017.A Cincinnati math teacher gave a bizarre PowerPoint presentation. He showed slides of squiggly lines to his patient audience, who squinted in sunlight to see them. The audience laughed along as he used fuzzy math to prove Trump won the election.Greenes was the last speaker. She asked her audience: Who is your president? Trump! They replied, even though it is 2021 and Joe Biden is the White House's occupier.The crowd didn't need much convincing. I asked Richard Stachurski (a Wellington resident from Ohio) if he would like Trump to run for office in 2024.He replied, "How do you run for President if you are already president?"Trump took to the podium and attacked Biden's policies. He then became animated and talked about the past and his plans for a border fence.It was all familiar. The chants of 4 more years! and LOCK HIM UP! (aimed this time at Anthony Fauci, an infectious disease expert, instead of Hillary Clinton). The sinister poem, The Snake is recited.Yet, this rally was different. Trump's supporters have applauded Trump at previous rallies as he demonized media and trashed immigrants. They also echoed his call to imprison his opponents. They also felt that the real estate mogul was giving them a voice. They felt that the charismatic outsider would be able to empower them to make Washington more democratic. There was also a joy in being part of a movement. They felt let down. We the People are pissed off, a popular rally T-shirt stated. Their champion was no more in office, meaning he had been removed from any real power. Trump seemed to feel the same way.He said that the subject matter was somewhat depressing.