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‘I left the party because it had become a cult’

Donald Trump’s hold on the Republican Party remains unabated almost six months after the storming of the Capitol. This week, 35 Republicans voted in favor of an investigation into the storm on January 6. Voting with the Democrats in the House of Representatives is an act of resistance, and not without risk. Because anyone who goes against Trump’s will can just be expelled from the party.

Denver Riggleman and Joe Walsh also experienced this. The first is a whiskey distiller, and as a former military intelligence specialist familiar with the danger of conspiracy theories. The other is a popular conservative radio host and a former member of the Conservative Tea Party. Both were disowned when they turned away from Trump.

“I left the party about a year ago,” said Joe Walsh. “I left the party because it had become a cult. This is Donald Trump’s party. He is just as popular now as he was a year ago.”

When we speak to Walsh through Zoom, he has just finished his conservative radio show. He is still shocked by what his listeners are telling him.

It’s scary that 80 percent of Republicans believe all those lies, he says in the video below. “A lot of them think the storming of the Capitol is okay.”

‘The days of two political parties in the US have ended’

The current president Joe Biden prefers to keep out, but also sees that it is no longer as it was with his right-wing friends. While he was always able to do good business with the other party. “We need the Republican Party,” said Biden. “We are a two-party system. It is not healthy to have just one party.”

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“We do need two healthy parties,” Walsh agrees. “We don’t have that now. We have one healthy party and a sect around Trump. That’s why I think a new party will eventually emerge. But it will be a bumpy ride.”

The Republican Party desperately needs Trump and his loyal supporters to regain a majority in Congress in next year’s midterm elections. “I am convinced that the Republican Party is dying out as a national party,” said Walsh, “but the party will remain strong in rural states. And that should be enough to win the majority in the House of Representatives next year. “They show it to them. They’d rather win the House than tell the truth.”

Don’t think Trump believes that shit himself.

Former Congressman Denver Riggleman

Whiskey distiller Denver Riggleman’s career within the Republican Party was also bumpy. When he opened his mouth about Trump’s untruths and also celebrated a gay marriage of friends last summer, his days in the party were numbered. According to him, Trump is specifically targeting the large group evangelicals, because they are more willing to donate money for a higher cause.

“On the right, you have very religious people and now you have leaders in the party who are not afraid to abuse that belief system,” said Riggleman. “These are the same people who give money to TV ministers.” According to him, strict believers are also more susceptible to conspiracy theories, such as those of Qanon, but also to the conspiracy idea that the elections were stolen. “It’s all just to get their money’s worth,” said Riggleman. “Don’t think Trump believes that shit himself.”

‘It is often not about the truth, but about loyalty and money’

Tastings are held at the Denver Riggleman whiskey distillery in the state of Virginia. Many of his guests are convinced that the election has been stolen. He tries to disprove that by saying that a lot of people must have been bribed for it. Sometimes he manages to convince someone, usually not. Because he openly attacks Trump, he has also been carrying a weapon when he goes shopping for death threats for a year. “I don’t wear it for the bears around here, but I do for the people.”

Riggleman predicts that the run-up to the midterm elections could turn out to be violent: “I think the Congressional elections could turn very nasty. I think we will see violence from both left and right extremist groups. Induced by misinformation and propaganda videos online That is an explosive combination, which can result in violence. I am afraid of that. “

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