There were raucous cheers and boos. There were Secret Service agents and metal detectors, food trailers in long grass and loudspeakers booming songs by Elton John and Dolly Parton. There were flags, hats, and T-shirts proclaiming Donald Trump the true winner of the 2020 election – or the man to beat in 2024.
And flying overhead was a small plane trailing a banner that proclaimed: “Ohio is Trump country.”
This strange carnival, unfolding on Saturday under the slogan Save America!, was the setting for Trump’s first post-presidential campaign rally and a noisy warning to Democrats – and democracy – that his cult of personality never went away. It was merely sleeping and, in hibernation, becoming ever more extreme.
Although Trump has lost his hi-tech mouthpiece on social media, he still has the low-tech medium of standing in a field and ranting dangerous falsehoods to thousands of fans whose adulation and sense of grievance knows no bounds.