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Trump and QAnon: A marriage made in Hell

The former president’s recent rally consummated a long flirtation with the extremist group destined to end in a mutual embrace.

Audience members put their index fingers 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 on Sept. 17 in Youngstown, Ohio.Jeff Swensen

Nice country you’ve got here, America. Donald Trump would hate to see something bad happen to it.

Let’s be clear — it’s not a coincidence that, days after forecasting possible violence if he is indicted by the Department of Justice for swiping classified documents from the White House, Trump essentially confirmed his relationship with QAnon. At an Ohio rally last Saturday, the former president played a song that sounded eerily similar to the violent, far-right conspiracy group’s theme song, “Wwg1wga.” That stands for “Where we go one, we go all,” the QAnon slogan.

Even though Trump’s team later denied that it was QAnon’s song, when it was played many in the audience recognized it as their own and raised a finger in the air, symbolizing “1.”


The crowd cheers at a GOP campaign rally in Youngstown, Ohio, Saturday, Sept. 17.Tom E. Puskar/Associated Press

It was the consummation of a long flirtation destined to end in a mutual embrace, a public announcement of a marriage made in Hell.

For those paying attention, Trump accepted QAnon’s proposal back in August 2020 when a reporter asked him about the group and its nonsensical conspiracies about Satanism and pedophile rings led by celebrities and prominent Democratic politicians. “I don’t know much about the movement, other than I understand they like me very much,” he said. “Which I appreciate.”

He did not condemn them. Instead he praised them as “people that love our country.” The fastest path to Trump’s capricious good graces is always through his ego. That Trump would openly align himself with QAnon was never in doubt. The only question is why did it take this long. Useful idiots attract other useful idiots.

That the FBI has warned of violence from QAnon members isn’t a deterrent to Trump; it’s a valued asset. That was clear long before he spent weeks inciting his followers to storm the US Capitol in an attempted coup to upend the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, which he lost.


From the time he declared his candidacy, violence has been Trump’s most reliable running mate. During the 2016 presidential campaign, anti-Trump protesters were routinely kicked and punched at Trump’s rallies. After people were throttled and ejected, Trump would say, “Maybe he should have been roughed up” or “I’d like to punch him in the face, I’ll tell ya.”

A University of Pennsylvania study later revealed that assaults would generally increase in cities hosting Trump rallies, “a phenomenon that’s unique” to Trump’s political gatherings, said the study’s lead author.

Of course, like similarly weak men, Trump himself is a coward. Even when called to serve his country during the Vietnam era, he got five deferments. Instead Trump stirs his usual brew of white grievance, white replacement, and white supremacy and serves it raw to his supporters. Violence and his ability to direct it is how Trump measures both his masculinity and power.

Those rallies, which have continued long past his one-term presidency, have always served a dual purpose. They feed his pathological narcissism but also keep his supporters bound to him and high on a steady stream of lies and conspiracies that mirror their own.

If the twice-impeached Trump had spent the past 18 months seething in silence, he could have been a forgotten and bitter old man playing out his days chasing a little white ball. But his rallies allow his followers to mainline his gripes and believe his battles are theirs as well. What they miss is that since Trump only thinks about himself, everything he does is for his benefit alone. They love him but not nearly as much as he loves himself and how he manipulates them for his own ends.


Like the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys, Trump doesn’t care if his QAnon followers wreak havoc. He doesn’t care if they spread dangerous lies. He doesn’t care if they want to overthrow American democracy. That’s exactly what he wants. Last week Trump told Hugh Hewitt, a conservative talk radio host, that if he’s indicted, “I think you’d have problems in this country the likes of which perhaps we’ve never seen before. I don’t think the people of the United States would stand for it.”

That’s a pointed threat against every American. As usual, Trump is showing exactly who he is — a pathetic and increasingly desperate loser willing to leave this nation in ashes to save himself. He fears nothing more than accountability. But connecting himself to QAnon is yet another warning that there’s no line Trump won’t cross. He is inciting violence again as his violent throngs are once more standing back and standing by.

Renée Graham is a Globe columnist. She can be reached at renee.graham@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @reneeygraham.