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Truth Squad the Rally for America

(Plainfield, CT) - The conventional wisdom about why at least 40% of American voters support Donald Trump is that they feel left out. They feel as if the economy has left them behind. They feel society is moving in a direction they do not recognize. They feel politicians of both parties have let them down, can't be counted on, and can't be trusted. It is the Trump brigade against the elites.

For these voters, Trump represents someone who tells it like it is. He is not afraid to offend anyone. His insults against those who feel they are a member of a protected class are considered a strength not a weakness. He says what his supporters are afraid to say in their daily lives. He is willing to burn down the whole system and start again - to go back to the way it was when American life was less complicated. I have written this same analysis going back to the New Hampshire primary in 2016.

After watching the Trump movement for six years, and paying close attention to what his supporters do and say, I am not sure conventional wisdom is right. At a Trump inspired rally in Connecticut, I found the messages and the motivations to be much more selfish and rooted in an emulation of Trump's own self-centered personality. It led me to question whether the connection between Trump and his followers is more about personality than policy.

Audience members listened carefully and cheered for distortions and lies.

In the front row that day sat a young man wearing a gray t-shirt that read, "Make Orwell Fiction Again." The quote on his shirt was a reference to George Orwell's 1984 and the use of deliberately deceptive language, by those in government, to control the masses. Some Trump supporters believe "deep state" government bureaucracy is out to similarly control the lives of ordinary Americans.

During the course of my five hours at the "Rally for America," it was the rally goers themselves who were engaged in newspeak. Their behavior, their words, their arguments, their signs, flags and banners almost all included messages that deflected from true intent. Irony is a concept this group has learned to suspend in order to support their alternate reality; a reality in which Donald Trump is still president and only those watching the events unfold on CNN believe the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol was an insurrection. They believe the crowd at the Capitol that day was led by the FBI, the CIA, and liberal political action groups.

Rally goers embrace a mix of religion, patriotism, rebellion, and intolerance.

The contradictions are too numerous to count, but when you consider the message behind the contradictions, they all circle back to the selfish sense that only the views of Trump supporters are the right views, only their America is the true America, only their rules should apply to everyone else.

They claim to be in favor of free speech, as long as it does not challenge their own. They are in favor of fair elections, but only if their candidate wins. They are not racist, but they can't bring themselves to say that Black lives matter, because they think that would mean theirs do not. They will open their rally with a prayer and then watch as an older man carrying a sign that says "Trump Lost" is assaulted by a younger man draped in a Trump flag. They respect the presidency, but not the current president. They are against corporate media, but they get their news from a place known as The Fox Corporation. They think all politicians are corrupt, except those willing to publicly repeat the lies they choose to believe.

They say they love America, but they disrespect the flag; proudly carrying it upside down which should only be done to signal distress, as in a sinking ship. They love their own flags, just not American flags. They have special flags devoted to Trump. One caught my eye, because it read, "Fuck Biden" and along the bottom it added, "And fuck you for voting for him." So much for free speech as exercised through the right to vote. To take the vulgarity a step further, they use the shorthand, "FJB" and "Foxtrot, Juliet, Bravo" to also mean "Fuck Joe Biden" - and as one sign said, "and the ho," which was a reference to Vice President Kamala Harris, who was pictured on the sign. Here, I should point out, they claim to respect women.

There are those who will argue that not all Trump voters approve of his behavior or approve of the disruptive behavior of those acting in his name. If this is true, if there are people in these crowds who do not condone how others conduct themselves, they should voice their disapproval and keep their fellow partisans in check. If they don't, their silence can only be taken as consent. If you are standing next to someone holding an FJB flag, and you do nothing about it; if you don't even step away, then you may as well be holding the flag.

Lone dissent.

About two hours into the rally, a man from a nearby town walked into the Connecticut event with his own message.

Earl McWilliams stood in the middle of the room and held his sign high in the air. "Trump Lost! Get Over It." People began to stare and murmur. What is he doing here? Democrat! Liberal!

Agitated, a younger man, physically bigger than McWilliams and wearing a Trump flag over his back like a cape and a camouflage hat, flanked McWilliams from the left, ripped the sign out of his hands, tore it up, and exchanged a few slaps forcing McWilliams to drop to his knees to protect himself. Women in the background could be seen smiling and laughing. A few checked to see if McWilliams was okay after the attack, but none did anything to prevent it from happening.

This is a pattern of behavior that goes back to Donald Trump's first campaign rallies in 2015, when he would encourage his supporters to beat up hecklers and then offer to pay any legal expenses.

Trump's tactics are always present at these events. Early in the afternoon, long before any local news media arrived, the emcee stood on stage criticizing what he called "the corporate media." Gesturing to the back of the room, as Trump would, he added, "I don't know if any of them [news reporters] are back there, but you can't trust them." The crowd applauded, but there were no news reporters in the back of the room to hear the applause. It was a phony gesture made to incite the crowd.

Who is more American in this photograph? The man with the courage to express his opinion, or those who think he got what he deserved?

All politicians are corrupt and they should all be thrown out of office, except for a select few who are willing to repeat the lies this crowd lives by.

Three Republican state representatives came from Hartford to address voters they believe are part of their base. One was an instant hero, because she had been so bold recently as to compare Governor Ned Lamont's Covid-19 policies to Nazi Germany, and she refused to back down. A second found a way to walk the line between conservative and crazy. A third was nearly booed off the stage when he suggested that moderate Republicans should be supported by Trump voters, because they are part of the coalition needed to pass conservative legislation. The crowd would have none of it. You are either with them - 100% - or you are against them.

Republican state lawmakers try different messages to breakthrough, but only strict dogma is accepted. (Bottom) - State Rep. Doug Dubitsky(R) is shouted down by a Q-Anon supporter for suggesting true conservatives should find ways to work with Republicans In Name Only (RINOs).

Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene(R-GA) understands this. She was the headliner. The main attraction.

In Washington, D.C., she has been stripped of all committee assignments, because of her radical views and unstable behavior. She is often quoted making remarks critical of the government she is part of and the Congress she is part of. She has called Congresswoman Liz Cheney, the daughter of the former vice president, a traitor. Though she has disdain for Congress and most of her colleagues, I noted that she proudly wore a Congressional pin on the necklace around her neck and had no problems accepting the special treatment she receives as a sitting member.

Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene(R-GA) was the main attraction at the Connecticut rally.

She was protected from the news media and her fans before she took the stage. Upon arrival, she was escorted by police and private security into a large garage near the rally site and locked down behind a steel door. When it was time for her to speak, she was driven to the stage in a customized black humvee and surrounded by a security team selected and dressed to intimidate.

Why did she need such protection? Everyone was there to see her. The one dissenter who made it past security left hours ago and his only weapon was a torn up sign. As a former staff person to politicians I have always considered it a sign of weakness to rely on the brute force of a security detail to protect you from the common man.

Protected always by a large, mostly non-professional security team, Greene made every false claim on President Trump's general playlist to the delight of the crowd.

Greene offered lie after lie from the stage. She fed into the idea that Donald Trump is the real president, that the election was stolen, that vaccines for Covid-19 are unsafe and any attempts to convince people to get vaccinated are an infringement on personal liberty. She declared that all Democrats are in fact communists and she seemed pleased when she confirmed there were no Democrats in the audience in Plainfield.

No one can get into the heads of politicians like Greene. I wonder if they really believe the falsehoods they peddle or if they are pure demagogues? What is the point? What is the purpose behind the hate they engender through their speeches and media appearances? Do they hope to gain more social media followers? More campaign contributions? Why is it so important to hold an office you don't intend to use for the public good?

It seems certain that those of the Greene ilk have no plans to solve any of the issues facing the country, they only seem interested in stoking the controversies that tend to divide us. They offer no solutions. No compromise. They offer only slogans rooted in lies. They must know this, but their followers appear to enjoy being manipulated.

"My rights don't end where your feelings begin," read the back of one man's t-shirt.

The phrase seems to sum up what Trump supporters are after. It is not a specific policy they want, but a way of life centered on their view of the world. The rest of us, the clear majority, are supposed to conform or be considered the enemy. "Fuck Joe Biden, and fuck you for voting for him."

For Trump's voters their rights do not end where your feelings begin, but your rights are supposed to end where their feelings begin. This is what Trump supporters have most in common with the man himself. It is a selfish, self-centered approach to life that has less to do with politics and more to do with making their lives un-complicated by the issues and concerns of their fellow citizens.

It is not conservative. It is not Republican. It is not democratic. It is, in the main, anti-American.

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© Dean Pagani 2021

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© Dean Pagani 2021