Like millions of others around the world, I sat in front of my computer and watched as the US President’s rally to “Save America” from his declared enemies devolved into a riot involving thousands of his supporters who laid siege to the Capitol Building and left 5 people dead.
According to Trump’s devoted base, the events of January 6th, 2021, were just the beginning of a civil war, one intended to restore power to Donald Trump, who they believe is the rightful winner of the Presidential Election which saw Trump lose to former Vice President, Joe Biden.
Because Donald Trump told them so. Without any tangible evidence and despite a landslide of facts that demonstrate the US Election was secure and the result valid, Trump Supporters have seeming departed reality and entered an alternative universe where truths are negotiable and chaos is justice.
In the aftermath of the tragic events I discovered that, by only three degrees of separation, I knew someone who had attended the events that day. After a few missives using a mutual go between, they agreed to speak with me on the condition of anonymity, fearing legal or social retribution.
They assert that they were in attendance, not to collude with other Trump supporters in pursuit of engaging in a historic act of terror, but to support the President, who had used social media to summon him there to support a cause.
Here is my brief interview with Tom.
PF: Thank you for agreeing to talk to me.
TOM: No problem.
PF: Can you explain to me why you decided to go to the “Save America” Rally to begin with?
TOM: To save America. Just like it says. That is the whole entire point. I got an email from Trump that said we were the last line of defense in the fight for the USA and a lot of people from everywhere had planned to go to show our numbers and make sure that Biden an the Democrats were not going to get away with stealing the election.
PF: The President had litigated the allegations of fraud in every contested state and both his own appointed Judges and fellow Republicans determined that it never happened. Why does Trump’s word weigh more to you than the dozens of others who had proof contrary to his allegation?
TOM: Listen, I know you’re smart. It is convenient to turn a blind eye to corruption and just keep swimming, you know? Every person in the country has been doing it for years and years. What have politicians ever actually done for you? Do you make more money? Do you have a better life? I don’t. No one I know does. We work, we pay taxes, we get nothing in return but shit on from high places by people with more money than they need and have no idea what real work feels like. Donald is self-made and he wasn’t interested in being a superior lording over us but willing to work for us. As President he didn’t like, lock himself away and just enjoy the privilege of, you know, being President. He went out, he talked to people, he learned who we were as human beings and what we wanted and needed and didn’t care about the rich politicians in $5,000 dollar suits who told the rest of us how to live and that was their job. He fought back and that made him their enemy. The liberal and Rhinos hated him because he wouldn’t play the game they had been enjoying unchallenged for 50 years. They wanted him to lose because he was actually willing to put his feet on the ground, in the dirt with us f*cking slaves to the system and so they put their thumbs on the scales of democracy to take it out of our hands like everything else. If Trump wasn’t going to work for them and their interests they wanted him gone so they stabbed him in the back and painted him out to be the bad guy. It’s not a conspiracy just because the truth is inconvenient or because you have been so conditioned to thinking that life has to be hard or you’re not living by the ones who took an oath to make it better but never f*cking do. We had more of the same, we been spoon fed more of the same and all power up there with the suits does is change hands, this time it came down to us. I would listen to Trump over some power mad politician trying to keep us in a delusion that this is all we can expect from our lives and a government unwilling to do anything for us.
PF: Did you know that it was going to become a riot?
TOM: No. I thought it was just another rally to show support. Am I surprised it became a fight? Nope. People went there and knew it was our last chance to be seen. Trump and the people who stand for Trump said it from stage. “It’s time to fight. This is the last stand.” People felt like it was a moment to change the course of history and it was important to take our country back from a power crazed government and Trump walked right to the Capitol Building with us, we support him and he supported the every-man.
PF: He didn’t go to the Capitol Building, he actually left and watched the riots from another location, but he didn’t march with with the crowd.
TOM: I know he said he was going to. Maybe he didn’t because there was a lot of people. I don’t know.
PF: Some people were there with Civil War 2021 shirts and dressed in tactical gear. Others brought weapons and restraints while threatening government leaders. Is that an acceptable way to influence change?
TOM: What? war? Doesn’t the USA support war all the time in other countries? Don’t they pay trillions of dollars to fight for or against people in third world countries? Government loves war. It get’s rich off war and its always been something they want as long as it benefits them, right? War is great for those who don’t have the guns pointed at them. Let me tell you that the narrative people want is that it’s Trump Supporters, big bad fire breathing, nutso Trump supporters against poor innocent delicate people. That’s wrong. This is the people, real Americans who get up and put their boots on and clean sewers, teach second grade, preach in church, work in grocery stores and, you know, deliver pizza or drive an Uber who care about our future and are tired of being asked to breathe through straws and act like it’s good enough. Most people I know are good people who are painted as evil or something and you know, they’re not, I’m not, we’re just tired of the nonstop struggle to survive, told to stay invisible and democracy only means casting a vote and that’s all you get when it doesn’t mean shit. I’m not shocked people went into places they shouldn’t be and did things they shouldn’t have done because where did asking get us? What did petitions get us? Where did voting in the last 50 years get us? So, you know there was this intense feeling of ‘Okay, this is the last stand, if we stop here and just go home this- it was all for nothing.’
PF: People there were carrying confederate flags, wearing anti-semetic T-Shirts and came with the intention of hurting people. Expressions of hate and bigotry has always been an undeniable aspect of Trumpism-
TOM: I don’t know anything about that. It’s a great way to dismiss us though. Go into any church and you’ll find someone with, you know, beliefs you don’t agree with. Not everyone is the same, but we all agree we deserve better than we have been allowed to have by people who have everything. You got to remember that there are people in the media and who have power who need to protect it so they will make sure you don’t have enough to pay your bills, but you have the tools to write us off as idiots or psychopaths. It benefits someone to drop a few agitators into the crowd doing some dumb shit and boom, we’re all lunatics.
PF: There were more than a few agitators. There were thousands.
TOM: Right and you know what? They’ll go to jail, won’t they. They’ll go to prison for life, man. For breaking a window or climbing a wall or being somewhere they weren’t allowed to be because they don’t have the education or enough money or whatever, but how many politicians have robbed people blind, got rich off bribes, lied, lied bald faced to the people they are supposed to stand up for. These people never go to jail. There are no rules for the rich who occupy that building. They’ll make an example out of the people who stepped out of line, watch, but you might not have a job or be able to feed your kid, but you got your six hundred bucks, now go to your corner and be quiet and don’t you dare get mad about it.
PF: Do you think it would be safe to say that general discontent with government and lack of positive impact on our day to day lives enabled the making of someone like Donald Trump, then?
TOM: One hundred percent. Ask yourself where our power is. People never organized like this before and achieved anything. Did Occupy Democrats get anywhere? Did Black Lives Matter get anywhere? No-
PF: -What did the violence at the Capitol earn your cause. How are you better off today than you were last week?
TOM: I think government servants maybe see now that they are not superheroes. They are not above the rest of us like we have let them think they were for so long. There is someone they have to answer to. I think they’re afraid of the people now. They weren’t before and that allowed them to get away with pretending we just didn’t matter beyond a vote to keep them powerful. We only exist to them in a November every four years.
PF: Did you participate in the invasion on the Capitol Building?
TOM: I did not. We walked to the building though, but you kinda saw where it was going when people around us started talking (about) Mike Pence being a traitor and getting out the gallows and I was like, ‘This is going to get really scary, really fast.’ Rudy and the other speakers started priming up the crowd, talking about kicking ass and going into combat and people started to get louder and madder to the point where I was like ‘I didn’t come here to go to jail… these guys want you to go to war for them. Guliani won’t go to jail, you will.’ I fully expected, when it all kicked off, that the whole military would be out there in full force like they were last summer with their water cannons and tear gas. I am still shocked that didn’t happened and it was so easy (Laughs) but I wasn’t going to take my chances. Like I said, I’m pissed off, I’m not stupid.