Michael Cleary is a senior biology major.
Trump supporters are showing their support for the former president. However, Trump may not have this much support in the coming months.
Donald J. Trump is notorious for many things, from his incredibly successful border wall project to his handsome face’s trademark bronze glow, but he is especially well-known for his loyal support base. His supporters are the sole reason he got the entire Republican party under his thumb.
But things seem to be changing since 4 years ago when he infamously said, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters, OK?”
On Aug. 21, the former president was booed at an Alabama rally after softballing a recommendation to his supporters to get vaccinated. After stating, “I believe totally in your freedoms. I do. You’ve got to do what you have to do, but I recommend taking the vaccines. It’s good. I did it. Take the vaccines,” he was met with heckling and jeering from the crowd. He no longer has the blind loyalty of his followers that he had grown so accustomed to over the years. The real question is, how did we get here?
QAnon has been in and out of the news cycle but exploded during the 2020 elections. The central QAnon conspiracy states that Donald Trump is secretly fighting against a group of elite Satanic pedophiles that run the entire world. This group purportedly includes Barack Obama, Pope Francis, Tom Hanks, etc.
The conspiracy is led by Q, an anonymous figure whose identity is still unknown, who paints themself as a whistleblower and claims to be a powerful US government official with access to classified information about Donald Trump’s war against this group of global elites. These messages, or “drops” as QAnon supporters call them, are essentially previously-existing conspiracies tied into new ones. Inspired by Q, QAnon followers have spread false information about COVID-19, Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests and the validity of the presidential election among other outlandish conspiracies.
Trump turned a blind eye to the conspiracy entirely. He had been asked to denounce the conspiracy time and time again during the election but refused to do so. When asked back in October 2020 during an NBC town hall, he was directly asked by host Savannah Guthrie to denounce the theory and “just say it’s crazy and not true.” Trump just pretended to not know about its existence.
It’s not really believable that the narcissistic conspiracy theorist did not know about the conspiracy theory that deified him as the last hope to save humanity from being ruled by a secret society of Satanic cannibalistic pedophiles (however, I can’t really blame the guy for not denouncing the movement). Asking anyone in politics to turn their back on a group of undyingly loyal supporters willing to do anything for them to stay in power would be an unrealistic request.
The former president was growing increasingly desperate to secure his presidency as COVID-19 and the BLM protests were increasingly pressuring his administration and hurting his prospects of reelection. And on top of everything else, Joe Biden was the candidate he had apparently feared to run against the most. It was reported that allegedly, as early as 2018, Trump was already asking his advisors if he should be worried about running against Joe Biden in the 2020 elections. QAnon had always been a more extreme version of Trump’s platform, but the two never really connected until late 2020 when Trump, in his desperation, touted more conspiracy theories about the election and the pandemic. By supporting similar conspiracies and failing to deny conspiracy theories surrounding himself, Donald Trump permanently tethered the MAGA movement and the QAnon movement together.
What we saw last Saturday was proof that Trump is no longer leading his supporters. Because he failed to deny a false narrative, his supporters are free to continue to see the conspiracy as truth. Trump is simply expected to follow a script laid out by the QAnon movement. The terrifying thing is we do not know who is writing the script. He allowed himself to become an abstract concept completely separate from him as an actual person and that concept is now what is leading the MAGA movement, not Trump himself. And it is tragically hilarious in a way that he sold his soul to win reelection, but in the end, he simply ousted himself from leadership position over his own movement.
Gone are the days where Donald Trump sat upon his throne with his feet kicked up on the submissive backs of GOP leaders as he stared down at the throngs of loyal supporters chanting his name. As QAnon becomes more and more integrated into the MAGA movement, who is in the position of leadership is becoming more unclear. I believe we are witnessing the transition from the movement with Trump as the leader to a movement where he is simply a figurehead, a symbolic leader, and nothing more. He had the chance to reclaim his position by denying the validity of the QAnon conspiracy but danced with the devil instead. Now he has to pay the price.