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Richmond, Virginia — At the main auditorium of a conservative rally called “Take Back Virginia” in the state capital this week, speakers promoted election conspiracy theories, warning of a civil war with a free state, and President Biden. Declared that he should be arrested. Rebellion.
But in the back room of the event, the tough tenor was replaced by the dark, festive tones of food, drink, and laughter often found in one of the signature rallies of former President Donald J. Trump. .. The sound of a soccer tailgate that converges with political dissatisfaction.
As a New York Times political reporter, I’m of this kind, including Mr. Trump’s stadium rally, such a small event, or a temporary festival like “Trump Stock” for Mr. Trump’s big fans in Northern Arizona. Participated in about 20 events. .. Every time I remember, these opportunities are structured so that they barely feel like political events.
Mr. Trump has his signature rally playlist that his ardent supporters have come to remember. It’s full of a wide range of music, including opera, rock and even “memories” from the musical “Cats”.
A Virginia event with a cash bar where Mr. Trump gives his address over the phone, offers meatballs and cheese plates, and allows customers to watch speakers from other rooms. At some point, two patrons exchanged petitions for election integrity and renewed each other on ongoing efforts to overturn the 2020 election while ordering a glass of wine.
But the clothes are the most striking reflection of how Mr. Trump’s most enthusiastic fans perceived his personality and dissatisfaction. For some attendees, going to an event in Mr. Trump’s name is not enough. Their attendance also requires wearing imitations of some of his political calling cards. At some events, I’ve seen people, especially those wearing class T-shirts, have their own photo lines. Others queue a selfie after taking a selfie.
In Virginia, I asked three men, all dressed fairly typical for an event like this, what they decided to wear, and their clothes were their politics. We talked about how it reflects our beliefs.
These interviews have been summarized and lightly edited for clarity.
James Thornton, Virginia, 47,
“I’m open to both sides. But when I go to the other side, they don’t like me. I want to hear their side, and they can hear my side That’s what society is all about. Don’t shut things down just because you can’t answer. “
“Education is the greatest for me. Critical race theory and LGBT I don’t care. I don’t care if you’re gay. It imposes your view on my view. When is it? Where do your rights start and where do my rights end? “
“I don’t hate Democrats. It’s their agenda and what they promote. I’m a hard-working person. And I don’t see my taxes benefiting me at all. See. It benefits the kind that you don’t want to give 100% and makes that effort. I know not everyone is. Definitely some people need help, but When I see a 27-year-old laughing saying “get help”, he says “go”. I’m paying the price. You know I had a sticker saying “Keep working — millions of people in welfare depend on it.”
Val Yuracek, Virginia, 52 years old
“I’m worried about our freedom. The American people want what this country is based on, it’s our freedom. And all these obligations and coercions. Vaccination is not America, it is not freedom, it is not a right given by our God. The right comes from God, and it is based on the Constitution. “
“We don’t want to go the path of a socialist or communist country. My family came from where one of those regimes was, but that’s what we want here. is not.”
“I was in the Marines, and my dad was in the Marines, and as Americans we love our country, and the flags and eagles represent it. I’m a blanket for everyone. I don’t want to hang out, and say that only one party supports it. But if you support America and support patriotism, the conservative side, the Constitutional side, is the group that does it. The left wing has gone too far into communism and socialism. “
Robert Levy, NJ, 62 years old
“I started a T-shirt company last summer. I put up two shirts first and then a sign to fight Covid’s limits. This was a big hit.”
“It’s easier to sell anti-Biden stuff. People on both sides of the aisle are fed up with what he’s doing because of the horror he’s doing. You’re not brain dead If so, you do not endorse these types of policies. “
“If you try to sell on Facebook, you have to go to an event like this because it will be withdrawn because they don’t like the message. We have to dance to the music. We , We have to find our people who have our political beliefs. “
“Our biggest seller is a shirt with a picture of the White House that says” Stolen Property. ” “
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