Trump’s new recruits – The Atlantic


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Speaking in Ohio on Saturday, Trump tried to energize QAnon on his behalf – a new phase in his campaign of threats against the government and people of the United States.

But first, here are three new stories from Atlantic.

A reckless climb

Trump rallies can often seem ridiculous, not least because Trump himself is inherently a ridiculous person. He grips the podium and screams, his sweaty angst giving rise to a reddish tint apparent even under the thick layer of orange-colored chemicals he applies to his face. In these moments, common phrases and whimsical asides come out of his mouth like lottery numbers rising to the top of a Powerball machine.

But Saturday night’s rally in Ohio wasn’t your typical Trump carnival, and it wasn’t just ridiculous, it was dangerous. His embrace of QAnon conspiracy theorists represents a further expansion not only of Trump’s personality cult, but of his threats to sow violence.

Despite his apparent inability to remember anything from thought to thought, Trump has a sort of awareness of the danger of the lizard brain – only to himself, of course – that guides him when he is faced with threats. His instinct in such situations is to do whatever it takes to survive, including bullying, lying, threatening, and allegedly breaking the law. He is now in political and legal danger, and he has decided to escalate his war against the rule of law, the American system of government and the American people by embracing and potentially weaponizing QAnon.

The QAnon movement may seem as ridiculous as Trump, but it is tragic and dangerous. As my friend Rob Tracinski wrote recently, it’s “an online scam that has spun out of control and become a worldview”, and millions now believe that “there is a worldwide network of pedophiles who secretly run the world and control our politics so they can abuse children. This is no ordinary conspiracy theory about water fluoridating coconuts; the emotional punch of threats against children has already led to near-tragedies and, in some cases, disastrous results involving unstable and violent people.

Initially, of course, Trump was only giving the QAnon movement a nod, accepting its support the same way he accepted, without acknowledging, the support of groups such as the Proud Boys. That last microgram of hesitation is now gone. Trump recently shared footage of himself wearing a Q pin, and the Ohio rally appeared to merge a QAnon event with an evangelistic meeting. As Trump wrapped up his remarks, orchestral music started playing — using a song seemingly very similar to QAnon’s favorite theme — and rally attendees responded by raising their index fingers in the air. One theory (and I’m no Q expert) is that the finger is a somatic expression of the QAnon motto “Where we go one, we all go”, but you have to see it to really appreciate the oddly bigoted vibe of this. moment .

Why is Trump doing this? It would be easy (and reassuring) to assume he’s exhausted all his other reservoirs of narcissistic support, and now all that’s left is to pull the most rogue brands in modern American political history and bask in their adulation. while emptying their pockets. I think we have to prepare, however, for a worse possibility: with many of his former supporters in groups such as the Oath Keepers that collapsed after January 6, Trump is pretending to recruit into a movement whose members could include people willing to do violence in its name.

Unless Trump has become a true QAnon believer – and that’s unlikely, as he only believes in himself – it’s hard to imagine any other motive here, but growing apprehension at the same time in Washington and among the public to indict him or hold him accountable for his behavior in any way. If you want political support and try to help JD Vance (who so far hasn’t said a word about it) in his race for the Ohio Senate, you organize a rally and blast your opponents and plump for your guy – Trump has done this before and knows the drill. However, you don’t play creepy music or portray yourself as the leader of one of the messiest crusades of modern times. This kind of gathering is not intended to bring voters together. Instead, it’s meant to recruit a mob and let the rest of the country see who’s on your side if you’re threatened in any way.

Don’t think for a minute that there are “good” Republicans out there who are going to put their foot down on any of this. The Republicans, with a handful of exceptions you can count on, are – again – too cowardly and too opportunistic to stop Trump. Supposed good Republican Glenn Youngkin hits the road for hardline Holocaust denier Kari Lake. Good, longtime Republican Rob Portman supports Vance, who is so hungry for Trump’s approval that even Trump sang Saturday night, “JD kiss my ass, he wants my support so badly.” Meanwhile, Elise Stefanik, whose Good Republican card expired years ago, chatted with Steve Bannon on his podcast.

The people who fought for Trump on January 6 were not enough to save him. He is now looking for a new pool of recruits. I didn’t think American politics could get much darker, but here we are.


Today’s News
  1. Hurricane Fiona knocked out power in Puerto Rico and more than 1,000 stranded residents were rescued across the island.
  2. Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin has been lowered into the royal vault of St. George’s Chapel.
  3. Mark Frerichs, an American kidnapped in Kabul more than two years ago, was released in exchange for an Afghan detainee in a US federal prison.


Evening reading
(Erik Carter / The Atlantic)

Chess is just poker now

By Matteo Wong

It was as if an inferior seed had knocked out the top team in March Madness: At the Sinquefield Cup chess tournament in St. Louis earlier this month, an upstart American teenager named Hans Niemann ended to the 53 game unbeaten streak of world champion Magnus Carlsen, perhaps the game’s best player of all time. But the real uproar came the next day, when Carlsen posted a cryptic tweet announcing his withdrawal that included a video meme stating, “If I talk, I’m in big trouble.” The king seemed to have made a tacit accusation of cheating and the chess world, in turn, exploded.

Read the article completely.

More Atlantic

cultural break
black and white close up of two faces side by side
(Alex Majoli / Magnum)

Lily. Gwendoline Riley’s last two novels, my ghosts and First loveargue that understanding your past will not set you free.

Look. The best shows of 2022, including The patient, the bearand Breakup– have one thing in common.

Play our daily crosswords.


My Atlantic my colleagues will replace me for the rest of this week on The Daily as I head to the Atlantic Festival in Washington, D.C. You can register to attend in person or virtually, or learn more about the happenings at our event flagship annual, here. (If you want to attend in person, we even have a discount for you: use code TAFFRIEND for 50% off.) Speakers will include Janet Yellen, Constance Wu, Arthur C. Brooks, Ibram X. Kendi, Senator Chris Murphy , Neal Katyal, Barton Gellman, White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain, Ed Yong and TikTok icon Elyse Myers, among many others. You can also see an update on Ukraine from Anne Applebaum, Franklin Foer and George Packer; see a debate between Thomas Chatterton-Williams and Joy Connelly on the culture wars; and watch the world premiere of the first TV series based on Atlanticit is reports, shadowland, directed by Joe Berlinger. (Watch the spooky trailer here.)

I will be there too, on our Ideas Stage. I hope you can join us!

-To M

Isabel Fattal contributed to this newsletter.


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