On Saturday, former President Donald Trump held his first campaign-style rally since his January 6 speech outside the White House, in which he incited supporters, spearheaded by far-right militias, to storm the US Capitol and halt the certification of Joe Biden’s election.
The rally, held at the Lorain County Fairgrounds in Wellington, Ohio, drew thousands of Trump supporters, some of whom admitted to news agencies that they were at the Capitol on January 6. The event served as the unofficial kickoff for the Republican 2022 midterm election campaign. It demonstrated that Trump remains the de facto leader of the party, which he is seeking to transform into an instrument for the establishment of a fascistic personalist dictatorship.
The rally is the first of three speaking events thus far scheduled in what is being described by news outlets such as CNN and Reuters as Trump’s “revenge tour.” On June 30 he is slated to speak in McAllen, Texas on the US-Mexico border, followed by a July 3 rally in Sarasota, Florida.
Most television networks did not cover the speech live, and print media such as the Washington Post and the New York Times gave the event minimal coverage and downplayed its fascistic character.
Saturday’s rally featured large branding that read “Save America,” which is listed as the event’s sponsor on Trump’s website. The same branding was used by the political action committee, Women for America First, which organized the January 6 rally in Washington D.C.
The choice of location was deliberate. Lorain County, which voted in every presidential election for the Democratic candidate since Ronald Regan, flipped to Trump in 2020. It is a former auto and steel center that has been devastated from the 1970s through the 2000s by deindustrialization, overseen by presidents of both capitalist parties, with the critical assistance of the trade unions. This includes the closing of Ford’s Lorain Assembly plant in 2005, which at its peak in the 1970s employed 7,500 workers.
As the steel mills closed throughout what is known today as the “rust belt” of Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, job losses rippled throughout Ohio’s rubber and auto plants, leading to further closures and downsizing in Akron, Canton and other towns.
The former president spent a significant portion of his 90-minute speech on racist anti-immigrant agitation and denunciations of Biden for being “soft” on criminals supposedly pouring across the border. In fact, Biden has in all essentials continued the inhumane and illegal anti-immigrant policies of the Trump White House.
Trump warned: “The radical left Democrats are doing everything possible to put your family in grave danger... they are putting your family into a very, very bad position, releasing criminal aliens, defunding the police, abolishing cash bail.”
The bulk of the rambling speech was devoted to promoting the lie of a stolen election, which has become the touchstone of the ongoing political conspiracy to overthrow what remains of bourgeois democratic forms of rule in the US. A large majority of Republican Party officials and organizations have embraced this fiction.
Trump used Saturday’s rally to promote the Republican primary challenge being mounted by his 2020 deputy campaign manager, 32-year-old Max Miller, against the incumbent congressman from Ohio’s 16th Congressional District, Anthony Gonzales. A former Ohio State University and National Football League player, Gonzales voted for Trump administration measures 85 percent of the time, but he became one of 10 Republicans in the House of Representatives who voted to impeach Trump on January 13 for his role in the January 6 coup attempt. Trump tapped Miller to challenge Gonzalez earlier this year, one of many such efforts to oust incumbents deemed insufficiently loyal.
In addition to promoting Miller during his speech, Trump hosted a fundraiser for him earlier on Saturday. Tickets for the event started at $1,000. However, according to an invitation obtained by the Toledo Blade, for $15,000 one could have, “a photo with the former president, a VIP reception, VIP rally seating and expedited entry…”
Also joining Trump on the dais was Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio’s 4th Congressional District. Jordan, the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, is one of Trump’s most prominent political pit bulls.
Speaking in advance of Trump was Holocaust-denier Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia’s 14th Congressional District. Greene, whom Trump singled out for praise as a “strong fighter,” railed against “radical Democrat socialists,” telling the crowd, “I want to impeach Biden. I want to expel Maxine Waters. And I want to fire Dr. Anthony Fauci.”
The crowd, which included at least one member of the III Percenter militia group, according to an interview posted by CNN, reacted enthusiastically to Greene’s attack on Fauci, chanting “Lock him up!”
Greene attacked nominal “left” members of the Democratic Party, including New York Representative and Democratic Socialists of America member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whom the Georgia fascist and QAnon adherent has repeatedly stalked and menaced.
Greene hissed, “The Democrats are controlled by the Jihad Squad led by AOC, the little communist from New York City. Yeah, lock her up too, that’s a good idea.”
“She’s not American,” Greene added.
Like Greene, Trump railed against science while gloating that the Biden administration had embraced the Wuhan lab leak conspiracy theory. “Do you remember when I said it comes out of Wuhan, it comes out of the lab?” said Trump. “They went crazy. Now they’re saying, ‘Most likely it came out of the Wuhan lab.’”
Trump also alluded to the Biden Justice Department’s opposition in federal court to suits filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and others in connection with his brutal and unconstitutional suppression of peaceful protesters across from the White House on June 1, 2020. That was carried out in connection with his Rose Garden speech threatening to mobilize active-duty troops to suppress anti-police violence protests across the country, followed by his photo-op holding up a bible in front of a nearby church. Last week, a federal judge appointed by Trump dismissed the case.
“And as you can see,” Trump boasted, “and you’ve seen over the last three weeks, the media and the Democrats are now admitting that I was right about everything.”