They drive for hours, sleep in parking lots, share sandwiches and country souvenirs. In their friendship, seniority counts less than attendance. Among the Front Row Joes (“the guys in the front row”), we shine by the number of Donald Trump meetings we have attended. In Youngstown (Ohio), a mecca for the steel industry, Sharon Anderson was in her 27e, Saturday, September 17. A 66-year-old mother of five, she owns a farm in southeast Tennessee. She often leaves her husband to manage day-to-day affairs to support the former president, “within ten hours by car”. It’s time to mobilize: the mid-term elections are approaching. “The threat is clear, communism is at the door, and the door is cracking,” she said of the Democrats.
At his side, Mike Boatman, 54, is surprised that we are surprised by so much fervor. He has already happened to join the place of a meeting a week before it was held, to ensure a place in front of the platform. He followed 43. “It’s a small sacrifice compared to what this man has done for the country for four years, to all the false accusations against him. » Sharon agrees. “They can’t prove anything. Otherwise, he would have already been dismissed. » And the January 6, 2021 assault on the Capitol, the role of chief instigator played by Donald Trump? On that fatal day, both were there, near the federal building, without entering it. “The crowd was peaceful,” they assure, in spite of the videos, of the work of the parliamentary commission of inquiry. “It was infiltrated”, claims the grandmother. “If Trump had asked us to take the Capitol, there would have been no more Capitol”, adds Mike Boatman, who lives in Indiana, where he works on construction sites.
Both are among the former president’s unconditional supporters. In appearance, nothing has changed in two years within the MAGA movement (Make America Great Again, Donald Trump’s slogan). The same themes, the same springs. The personality cult that surrounds the leader draws on the anti-system resentment of this all-embracing MAGA people: the “radical left”teachers, mainstream media and tech giants.
“We lost in their imagination”
The thousands of people present on Saturday illustrate it: its core is more hardened than ever. But how big is the fruit around? While Joe Biden’s popularity rating has risen from a historic low this summer, Donald Trump’s raises questions. His grip on the Republican base remains powerful, but his irrevocable conspiratorial drift and his legal troubles could limit his ability to seduce more moderate voters. The speech given by Trump on Saturday evening testifies to this sectarian-type headlong rush. Fantasies, conspiratorial references, the designation of internal enemies operate in a closed circuit on the planet MAGA, where the law of gravity takes on another meaning. “A kind of semi-fascism”recently judged Joe Biden.
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