I went to a Trump rally yesterday afternoon. Not because, since the Dems succeeded in kicking Jill Stein off the ballot, and I just can’t seem to throw Hillary my nod, I’m actually considering joining the Trump train. I went out of curiosity, to see the man who could be the next leader of the Free-ish World, and to glimpse the Republican Party’s rotting corpse, with its bogus hair and squinty eyes. More important, I went because I’m suffering through the longest bout of something like writer’s block, not the creative kind, but the apathetic sort. Ever since moving to Southern Nevada, I haven’t seemed to care enough about my own opinion on anything to write it out, especially in terms of politics. I’ve written about Trump (everyone’s writing about Trump), I’ve written about Hillary (everybody’s writing about her), I’ve written about voting third-party (everybody’s talking about voting third-party, though it’s usually negative). Who wants to repeat themselves, except for CNN, Fox News and MSNBC? Not I! says this black guy. So I went to a Trump rally yesterday afternoon.
A headache began brewing in my forehead around 9:30 a.m., a full two hours before the thing was scheduled to pop off. Like most people of my generation, I hate going places, and the fact that I was being driven from the comfort of my desk to a festival of “deplorables” had me wishing I would’ve stuck with accounting. The event was being held at the Henderson Pavilion, a 2400-seat shaded outdoor amphitheater, enclosed by a higher lawn area that can accommodate another 4,000 people. Henderson is a super-suburb overlooking the Las Vegas Valley, which, if you didn’t know or don’t remember, is bordered by dry desert mountains, though Henderson itself can afford to stay pretty green.
The intersection of Green Valley and Paseo Verde was crawling with middle-aged white people of varying sizes making their way to the venue. I had to find parking in a nearby neighborhood as the parking lot was cordoned off by a pair of cop cars, beyond which sat a coach bus and news vans. Admittedly I was on guard as I walked briskly from my parking spot a few blocks away (suburb blocks, which are much longer). A skinny white guy who looked as if he’d slept in his cheap suit was talking bout “crooked Hillary” and Trump and about how both of them will bring the country to ruin. “Hillary isn’t going to fix a damn thing!” he yelled toward the cops standing by their cars. “The word damn is in the Bible, so I can say it!” A cheerful old man asked if I wanted one of the pins he was selling. “‘Trump-Pence?’ ‘I’m a Proud Deplorable’?” A good number of people wore “Hillary for Prison 2016” shirts, but a plurality donned the ol’ red-white-and-blue either as a hat, bandana, t-shirt, tank top, shorts, pants, leggings, jeggings, socks or sandals. Had I not known, I would’ve thought I was going to a country rock concert on Fourth of July weekend.
After taking a video or two for Snapchat, I staked out a spot on the grassy hillside behind the pavilion which gave me a clear line of sight to the podium which read TRUMP PENCE. A yuge American flag covered the entire backstage. The sun was brutal, and I felt like people thought I was a terrorist. I was alone, after all, and one of maybe a handful of dark people, especially dark men. Plus I’m not black black, just the kind of black with the kind of hair and eyebrows that make some trigueños look like terrorists. Trying not to make any sudden movements, I sat in the grass and proceeded to observe and tweet my observations while we waited for the man of the hour, and arguably the year.
I’m not going to bore you with a play-by-play of the rest. Some old man who was a retired Navy SEAL and had been awarded the Medal of Honor opened for Trump, saying something about the “blood of patriots,” though I didn’t catch most of it because I was distracted by the way he said “patri-ot.” Then a musical interlude: yet another round of “Heart of Stone” and “Time Is on My Side” by The Stones. Then, “Ladies and gentlemen, the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the next president of the United States, Donald J. Trump!”
And there he was, red tie and all.
Truthfully, having seen so much of him on TV these past how many months, you pretty much know what to expect. So when you see him, it’s more like a memory. The fucker’s funnier in person, though, I’ll give him that. After railing on about “crooked Hillary,” Iran, “illegal aliens,” Benghazi, 33,000 deleted emails, China, “job theft” and Chicago, he asked his supporters for a favor. “I need you to vote on November 8,” he said. “I’m kidding, of course, but I don’t care how sick you are. [crowd laughs] I don’t care if the doctor gives you the worse diagnosis ever. You know, it’s over for you. [another laugh from the crowd] Just hang around for a few more weeks so you can vote for me.” It doesn’t seem as funny now, seeing it written, but, in person, his delivery is flawless. That’s one of the problems with Hillary, isn’t it? Everything she says sounds rote. Trump has a way of speaking to a crowd of 6,000 as though he were addressing an intimate gathering. Even from the hill I felt right next to him, which was too close for comfort.
As for Trump’s supporters themselves, his proud “basket of deplorables,” they weren’t half as creepy up close as I’d expected them to be. In fact, they even seemed normal. I joked along with a few of them in line about how serious the Secret Service people looked and how lines always speed up as soon you switch to another one. And nearly everything Trump complained about are my complaints, too — violence in the streets, corrupt career politicians, terrible trade deals, Hillary’s false promises and doublespeak, and the Democratic strategy of pandering to Latinos and blacks every four years but doing nothing for them in the interim. However, Trump and his fans blame foreigners and the bureaucrats “giving the country away” to them, whereas I blame bankers and the paid-for politicians stealing the country away for themselves. I’m much closer to the truth than they are, because no one can honestly blame illegal immigration for the Terrible Recession, not when it’s been shown that immigrants are a net benefit to the economy. But, considering nearly everyone at the rally was white, I can safely assume that the average Trump supporter doesn’t know any black, Latino or undocumented person, at least not personally, and they might feel differently if they did.
Republican rallies are all about the personal, with a vein of tragic anecdotes weaving its way through a stump speech in place of facts and philosophical arguments. Seeing how stupid Hillary’s camp can be, I suspect the liberal brain and the conservative brain work exactly the same, only with different priorities. Liberals want equality (which isn’t the same as egalitarianism), world peace (which isn’t global happiness) and overall good feelings (which is different than a clean conscience). Conservatives have their holy trinity: God, Family, and Country, in that order. It’s easy to see how the two sides would seek differing solutions to the same problems, how they both can be back two equally horrible candidates. And because the two wings of the Property Party have offered up two of the most lyingest candidates in history, each base is hearing what the candidates meant to say, instead of what they’re actually saying.
Featured image: Gage Skidmore/Flickr