Supporters of former president Donald trump card stand near Confederate and also U.S. Flags together they gather because that his very first post-presidency campaign rally in Wellington, Ohio, on June 26. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)
For about four years, a single, manically cycloning thought gained the ideal of me: How can all this people think Donald Trump’s lies? His untruths to be so numerous, therefore rich and bizarre and also cruel the at some allude I assumed castle to be a privilege that the office that held. Maybe the misinformation will fade when it’s uncoupled native the pomp that the presidency, i thought. Maybe all of us will certainly see things more clearly under a new administration. Yet, 6 months on, the lies thrive.

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Aside from part remarks that made in ~ the Conservative Political activity Conference and his speech that came before the storming of the Capitol top top Jan. 6, trump has had actually a quiet 2021. Much the same have the right to be claimed for among the primary amplifiers that his and others’ falsehoods: QAnon’s de facto leader, Q, there is no posted new information since December. Top top Saturday, in Ohio’s substantial middle, Trump returned to public speaking. This time, he was to be accompanied by every you can expect indigenous an 88-degree evening at the Lorain ar Fairgrounds — a dusty parking area, breed cub stalls and creaky grandstands under the rich, dank odor of manure and surrounded by verdant fields. Air force One would not be deployed. His lectern wouldn’t be adorned by the presidential seal. He’s no officially to run for anything, also if all signs suggest to a bid in 2024. So, who would desire to attend a trumped rally in 2021?

My father was a fabulist. He to be a salesman, too, at miscellaneous times hawking janitorial supplies, vending machine peanuts and also paperbacks stocked in turn racks in ~ gas stations. He knew how to talk to people. To persuade. In the years before he passed away in 2013, the gulped under Fox News, recognize its variation of “fair and balanced” an appealing equilibrium. My dad’s understanding of truth was buried beneath number of layers of veneer. It’s one of the factors I found it so difficult to agree through him about politics. And also it’s most likely the major reason ns was one of countless thousands in the Ohio pasture on Saturday. My whole upbringing connected negotiating the truth. Today, ns can’t avoid probing trump supporters, trying to understand specifically how they check out the world and also why they’re no seeing that the means I do.

“I think vaccines are the real virus that’s killing people,” frank Tondo that Youngstown called me. Tondo and also his girlfriend Joe Stasiak both wore QAnon T-shirts. Both believe that trump card is the rightful president and also will be back in power soon. Tondo said, “Right now, we have actually two presidents. Yes, Biden’s the president of the bankrupt corporation. Trump’s the president critical year. And he signed the second Declaration of freedom last July once he was at mountain Rushmore.” Stasiak and Tondo go on come tell me various other things ns don’t believe: around pedophilia, a false theory about the condo structure collapse in Florida, the battle of 1812 and, yes, aliens.

Lori Bendzula drove more than three hours from West Seneca, N.Y., to to visit the rally. “Trump’s running the country, indigenous here” she gestured at the leafy soybean ar behind her just past a biblical selection of donkeys and also black sheep. “Have girlfriend heard of Q? room you mindful of what’s going on?” Bendzula, who remained in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6, woke in the night two days before this week’s rally v the idea to do Trump a enormous belated birthday card. She carried with she a kraft-paper scroll on yardsticks i beg your pardon she request me come sign. It was currently jammed with hundreds of signatures. “People space excited and also thanked me because that it and also thanked me because that doing this. It’s prefer a small labor of love, girlfriend know?”

Somehow, ns hoped the era the lies might be fading now. The truth always eventually emerges, civil liberties the wrongs, sets us free. Right? In 2007, my father had a disastrous stroke which operated like a truth serum, unloosing his tongue and revealing hidden truths and upending points I’d always believed. Together unlikely together it seemed, ns wondered if possibly a dethroned Trump would share several of that humility, some of the delicate authenticity that my father got only in his really sad final years. Maybe, i thought, trump would have a lackluster audience, one unenthusiastic couple of to hear the speak.

Instead, rural Ohio thrummed with people — and lies — on Saturday. Traffic was backed up for eight miles on three stretches the blacktop. Apocryphal stories circulated about how plenty of ticket bookings were make — native 40,000 come 200,000. Approximates place the actual variety of attendees in the thousands, yet it was hard not to feel the collective mass the the assembling crowd as I drove in. Ns sat in my idling automobile for four hot hrs on Pitts roadway while world got out and talked, decorating their cars and trucks through flags. An ATV progressively crept by in the various other direction, playing a rap song about a white strength civil war. One more ATV zipped down the lane with a pair and 2 coolers. “Bud light or Busch Light,” that said. “Two bucks,” she said.

There was a rumor the no “Q” gear would be allowed inside, so civilization were turning their shirts within out, and during the lengthy wait with no bathrooms, several human being stood or squatted in ~ the roadside. It take it a certain level that dedication past that the the casual observer to invest your Saturday this way.

Farmers had actually spontaneously started charging $20 because that parking spots and those spots, favor those at the fairground, to be full. So numerous people started walking, sweating in the afternoon humidity, the the nation road was half people, half cars, all bedlam. As the moment of Trump’s decided approached, cars couldn’t safely navigate and were exit in situ or ~ above land without farmers’ permission. I walked a mile and a half through that sea the humanity and also cars and also “Trump 2024” flags come find an additional assembled mass once I turned the corner into the fairgrounds. Thousands of world had amassed, nearly all wearing branded trump gear and elated to have actually traversed the obstacles to it is in there.

At least one of the rumors was true — over there weren’t plenty of QAnon shirts or hats. The most common shirt ns saw merely said, “TRUMP WON.”

When Trump take it the phase behind a blue “SAVE AMERICA” placard, he no hew much closer come the truth. As is his custom, he rambled. His speech to be disjointed, mainly abrupt unit volume such as “liberal elite” intended to garner applause. Prefer a musician obligingly play the hits, he ranted around immigrants and claimed the Democrats were letting criminals loose and acquisition citizens’ guns. “The media will certainly not show the magnitude of this crowd,” he insisted. Ns felt prefer I’d heard this very same speech number of times before. Considering mine walk earlier to the car would be more perilous in the dark, i left a little early, conference Nancy, a woman in she mid-50s whose last name ns didn’t catch and who stand out since she was wearing a sundress, not a trump shirt.

“Totally,” she said. “We have to come out and also show our support, otherwise the lies win.” we walked through dozens of cars filled with world who’d never regulated to obtain in to the fairgrounds. They to be watching the broadcast of the event on Newsmax on their phones. A mile outside of the gates, I can hear Trump’s amplified voice — “stolen election” and also “rigged” — echoing in between the barns and also trees.

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“Isn’t the awful?” Nancy asked. “The left has so distorted points that nobody knows the fact anymore.”

In the golden Ohio sunset, us walked on towards our cars, and also I said her ns was feeling about the exact same way.