If you are not frightened by what the former Republican Party has become in the grips of Donald Trump, you should be after this bizarre QAnon cult rally in Youngstown, Ohio for J.D. Vance on Saturday.

Lauren Sue reports at Daily Kos, ‘This is the week when Trump became Qanon’: Crowd responds with bizarre hand sign at Trump rally:

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After former President Donald Trump regurgitated the racist “great replacement” theory, and otherwise trashed America in an odd endorsement of Republican Senate candidate J.D. Vance, portions of a crowd of more than 6,000 attendees raised their single fingers in the air. It was an alarming move for social media users who described the gesture as remarkably similar to the Nazi salute. Investor and journalist Morten Overbye called the crowd a “fascist cult.” CNN analyst Juliette Kayyem said the hand symbol was the sign of conspiracy theorists championing the QAnon theory.

Note: I would point out that fundamentalist Christians also point to the heavens with one finger. You see Christian athletes do this every time they hit a home run or score a touchdown. “Rather than an aberration, the fascination with conspiracies at the heart of Trump-era White evangelical Christian nationalism is symptomatic of a distinctively modern manifestation of evangelicalism’s obsession with end-time prophecies. These form a surging and resurging current throughout late twentieth and twenty-first century evangelicalism.” QAnon, Conspiracy, and White Evangelical Apocalypse. QAnon is a quasi-religious far-right political personality cult of Donad Trump.

“This is the week when Trump became Qanon,” Kayyem tweeted. “This isn’t a political statement; it just is, however, disturbing. The week began with images of Trump on Truth Social wearing a Q pin and promoting their slogans, it ends with Q music and the Q ‘one’ sign by crowd at his rally.”

Exactly what members of the Youngstown crowd were trying to communicate by raising their fingers in the air may be up for debate, but the message from the former president at the rally was far less subjective. He supports Vance but not nearly as much as Trump supports himself.

Journalist Andrea Pitzer reported that although Trump bragged about a sold-out crowd during the rally, the arena, which has a capacity of less than 10,000 people, had a back section that was empty.

Trump described himself as a victim of an “unhinged persecution” in which witnesses of the January 6 insurrection he is accused of inciting were forced to turn against him. “They take good people and they say, ‘You’re going to jail for 10 years … unless you say something bad about Trump, in which case you won’t have to go to jail,’” Trump said.

This is straight out of the The Authoritarian Playbook.

He also alleged that the government “spied” on his campaign, “and nobody wants to do anything about it.”

“Can you imagine if I spied on the campaign of—forget Biden—how about [the back guy] Obama’s campaign?” Trump asked. “Can you imagine what (the punishment) would be? Maybe it would be death. They’d bring back the death penalty.”

Trump, so absorbed in his own public defense, even seemed to forget the reason he was at the rally and started taking shots at Vance. “J.D. is kissing my ass,” Trump said. “He wants my support so bad!”

Trump humiliated J.D. Vance. This is not the kind of endorsement a candidate wants. Tim Ryan shoud be cutting ads with this clip this week.

It wasn’t a completely off-base political analysis. The number of Republicans overly devoted to the insurrectionist former president seems to be ever-growing, with some of the more prominent ones also in attendance at the Ohio rally.

It wasn’t a completely off-base political analysis. The number of Republicans overly devoted to the insurrectionist former president seems to be ever-growing, with some of the more prominent ones also in attendance at the Ohio rally.

Rep. Marjorie “Q” Greene called Trump the “one true leader” of the Republican Party. “He’s the one we elected in 2016 and the one we re-elected in 2020, who won the election,” she said, promoting utter lies. While “fresh off appearing to kick a climate activist on video” as Rolling Stone put it, Greene also mocked Democrats concerned about climate change.

“We know that cheap gas won’t last,” Greene said at the rally. “You want to know why? Democrats worship the climate. We worship God.”

MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, another Trump supporter, also referenced God in saying he “prayed” then-Senate candidates Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff would win in runoff elections last January because it helped cement the claim of widespread “election crime” happening in the United States.

There is no such evidence of widespread election fraud, by the way—a fun fact Republicans choose to ignore alongside their fear-inducing leader.

These are appeals to end-times evangelical White Christian Nationalism and GQP tribalism.

“We are a nation in decline,” [end-times prophecy] Trump said at the close of his speech. He failed to mention he is a large reason why.

The Rolling Stone report cited adds, Cult Vibes: Trump Ends Rally In Bizarre Fashion, Leaving Crowd Mesmerized:

At the end of Saturday night’s Trump rally, something strange (well, more strange than usual) happened. As the former president delivered the eight-minute monologue that concluded his speech, dramatic strings music began to play in the background and a portion of the mesmerized crowd raised their hands with their pointer fingers extended in an odd salute.

The song has not been definitively identified, although some — including The Daily Beast’s Will Sommer — said it is titled “WWG1WGA” after the QAnon slogan, “Where we go one, we go all,” and is affiliated with the movement. The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman speculated Trump may have used a song titled “Mirrors” by film and TV composer Will Van De Crommer. But, as a music professor who analyzed “Mirrors” after Trump used it in a video told Vice in August, the two songs are “identical.”

“I have listened to both [“Mirrors” and “WWG1WGA”] closely several times now, and I have 100% professional confidence these recordings are identical, not even a reinterpretation of a composition, but the same recording,” David Dominique told Vice News.

Media Matters also analyzed the two songs using software called Audacity and “found their audio profiles to be virtually identical.”

The rally song is only the latest development in Trump’s apparent embrace of QAnon. Earlier this week, Trump posted to Truth Social a photo of himself wearing a Q lapel pin with the words “The Storm is Coming” — another phrase used by the Q movement — superimposed on the image. The “storm,” believers say, is a reference to Trump’s return to the presidency when he will punish his enemies in the Deep State.

The MAGA/QAnon quasi-religious far-right political personality cult of Donald Trump is every bit the threat to American democracy that President Biden warned it is. It is metastasizing into a malignant cancer in our body politic.

David Leonhardt warns in a lengthy analysis at the New York Times, ‘A Crisis Coming’: The Twin Threats to American Democracy (excerpt – but read his entire piece):

The United States has experienced deep political turmoil several times before over the past century. The Great Depression caused Americans to doubt the country’s economic system. World War II and the Cold War presented threats from global totalitarian movements. The 1960s and ’70s were marred by assassinations, riots, a losing war and a disgraced president.

These earlier periods were each more alarming in some ways than anything that has happened in the United States recently. Yet during each of those previous times of tumult, the basic dynamics of American democracy held firm. Candidates who won the most votes were able to take power and attempt to address the country’s problems.

The current period is different. As a result, the United States today finds itself in a situation with little historical precedent. American democracy is facing two distinct threats, which together represent the most serious challenge to the country’s governing ideals in decades.

The first threat is acute: a growing movement inside one of the country’s two major parties — the Republican Party — to refuse to accept defeat in an election.

See also, Republicans in key battleground races refuse to say they will accept results:

In competitive races for governor or Senate in Arizona, Florida, Kansas, Michigan, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas, GOP candidates declined to say that they would accept this year’s result.All but two — incumbent senators Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Marco Rubio of Florida — have publicly embraced Trump’s false claims about 2020, according to a Post analysis.

[M]any Republicans have sought voters’ support — and Trump’s — by repeating his false statements about a stolen election. Democrats have warned that such claims put democracy in peril. Candidates willing to deny the results of a legitimate election, they argue, can’t be trusted to oversee future votes.

The violent Jan. 6, 2021, attack on Congress, meant to prevent the certification of President Biden’s election, was the clearest manifestation of this movement, but it has continued since then. Hundreds of elected Republican officials around the country falsely claim that the 2020 election was rigged. Some of them are running for statewide offices that would oversee future elections, potentially putting them in position to overturn an election in 2024 or beyond.

“There is the possibility, for the first time in American history, that a legitimately elected president will not be able to take office,” said Yascha Mounk, a political scientist at Johns Hopkins University who studies democracy.

The second threat to democracy is chronic but also growing: The power to set government policy is becoming increasingly disconnected from public opinion. [The tyranny of the minority.]

The run of recent Supreme Court decisions — both sweeping and, according to polls, unpopular — highlight this disconnect. Although the Democratic Party has won the popular vote in seven of the past eight presidential elections, a Supreme Court dominated by Republican appointees seems poised to shape American politics for years, if not decades. And the court is only one of the means through which policy outcomes are becoming less closely tied to the popular will.

Two of the past four presidents have taken office despite losing the popular vote. Senators representing a majority of Americans are often unable to pass bills, partly because of the increasing use of the filibuster. Even the House, intended as the branch of the government that most reflects the popular will, does not always do so, because of the way districts are drawn [gerrymandering].

“We are far and away the most countermajoritarian democracy in the world,” said Steven Levitsky, a professor of government at Harvard University and a co-author of the book “How Democracies Die,” with Daniel Ziblatt.




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