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Annals of Incitement

YOUNGSTOWN, OH - SEPTEMBER 17: Audience members put their index finger up to symbolize America First while President Donald Trump speaks at a Save America Rally to support Republican candidates running for state and ... YOUNGSTOWN, OH - SEPTEMBER 17: Audience members put their index finger up to symbolize America First while President Donald Trump speaks at a Save America Rally to support Republican candidates running for state and federal offices in the state of Ohio at the Covelli Centre on September 17, 2022 in Youngstown, Ohio. Republican Senate candidate JD Vance and Rep. Jim Jordan(R-OH) will spoke to supporters along with Former President Trump.(Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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September 19, 2022 12:13 p.m.

Another thing I wanted to flag for you. At his rally in Youngstown, Ohio on Saturday Donald Trump appeared to take a decisive new step in embracing the QAnon conspiracy theory. He’s been dog whistling about it for years. But at this rally there was an especially dark and fetid tone and the rally concluded with what was either the Q movement song or one that was so similar as to be indistinguishable from it. (Yes, there’s a movement song.) The crowd responded with an index finger salute — also a Q movement trademark — as they swayed to the music and Trump’s rhythmic incitement. This comes after various posts on Trump’s “Truth Social” Twitter clone site which now openly embrace Q.

What it means is the obvious thing: Trump gravitates toward what secures his deepest and surest hold over his supporters. He’s in a mutually reinforcing cycle of radicalization with his most ardent followers.

It also seems likely that his rapidly intensifying legal exposure and predicament are fueling this shift. The Q fantasy has always been based on belief in a corrupt and evil liberal “deep state” which will result to all manner of criminality and threats and crimes against Trump before finally being vanquished in a dramatic turning of the tables in which Trump gets his violent revenge against his enemies.

Trump and his supporters have created a dynamic in which the predictable and perhaps inevitable result of his own criminal behavior now validates their narrative about his persecution and inevitable violent triumph over his foes. It also makes Trump’s reliance on the hardcore of MAGA/QAnon supporters more of an all-or-nothing thing.

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