MANCHESTER, New Hampshire – Supporters of former President Donald Trump gather in the cold New Hampshire evening to rally around their leader, absorbing and echoing his strategy of flipping accusations against him and turning them on his accusers. According to them, Trump is the savior of democracy. Despite the subzero temperatures and snowfall, thousands wait in line for a chance to witness their greatest showman.
Trump, gearing up to hold the biggest campaign rally in New Hampshire’s primary elections, is on the brink of securing the 2024 Republican nomination. This prospect triggers renewed warnings that democracy itself will be on the ballot in the upcoming November elections. However, Trump’s ardent supporters in Manchester see things in a completely different light. They view Joe Biden as the autocrat and Trump as the savior of the constitutional republic.
For his fans, Trump has always deployed a strategy in which accusations against him are flipped and turned on the accuser. The success of this strategy is evident in the rally and the current election season. “The funny thing is that everything the other side seems to accuse Trump of they’re guilty of themselves,” said Steve Baird, 52, a chief financial officer, echoing the sentiments of many supporters at the rally.
The struggle over perception also becomes a struggle over language. While Biden and his allies often stress the need to protect democracy at home and abroad, Trump has co-opted the word, repeating it ad nauseam, and establishing a false equivalence between himself and Biden. In Trump’s inverted mirror, “fake news” refers to a corrupt media ranged against him, and the threat to democracy stems not from election lies, but from the weaponization of the justice department.
Trump leveraged the rally to not only criticize Biden but also to attack his primary rivals, emphasizing the high stakes of the 2024 election. His supporters, energized by the rhetoric and amplified by rightwing media, believe Trump is on the right side of history in this battle for democracy.
The rally showcased a growing polarization in political perspectives, with Trump’s strategy finding resonance among the grassroots. As the 2024 election approaches, the divide between Trump’s supporters and his critics becomes starker, setting the stage for a bitter and contentious campaign.