I would come to Orlando to interview MAGA supporters and get an idea of their plans after the unwanted loss of the presidency. Few of them have captured the tenor of the crowd better than Enrique Tarrio current chairman of the Proud Boys and one of the most controversial far-right luminaries I’ve found on the sidewalk with his own group of die-hard supporters. It was clear to him why everyone was out there to brave the heat that afternoon.
“When you cross the street, you don’t see flags for Cruz. You don’t see flags for Rubio,” Tarrio said, explaining that the Proud Boys had been present at demonstrations outside the Hyatt-Regency Hotel for two days. “So here we are to show the people inside, including members of Congress, including members of the Senate, that the people are with Trump. “
The proud boys – one of the two militia groups whose members I noticed during the demonstration that day; Several flags for three percent waved in the wind in the crowd – an all-male neo-fascist group, prominent proponents of political violence and self-known defenders of “Western chauvinism”. They became notorious during the Trump era for their frequent street fights with Black Lives Matter and anti-fascist protesters. Trump was notorious at the presidential debate with Joe Biden in September 2020 told them “Resign and stand by” awaiting election results after being asked if he would condemn them. They later became one of the groups charged with plotting the Capitol uprising.
However, for purely empirical reasons, it was difficult to argue with Tarrio. The protesters I saw weren’t there for the Republican Party or the Conservative movement. Above all, they showed loyalty to Trump: not only Trump, the politician, but also the man, the figure, the icon of the demolition culture and the martyrs.
“How often can you have someone you believe in and make a living from it?” I was told by Justin, a seller of Trump and Blue Lives Matter merchandise, who drove all the way from Michigan to Orlando and asked to exclude his last name. “Now [under Biden], we have to pay for abortions in other countries. “