Read Part III here.
After a brief pause the president was announced, the black curtain opened from the left of the stage and he walked out, waving. He was in uniform: a black suit and red tie. He is a big guy. As they say in the theater, he “eats the stage.”
In the mass of people all waving and cheering you couldn’t miss him. The ovation was long and standing, but I didn’t see crazy-eyed cult worship and adoration in the faces of those around me in the stands. He waited it out, waving to people in the crowd as if he knew them. “Proud to be an American” by Lee Greenwood played, and the giant transvestite was in the VIP section close to the stage, standing head and shoulders above the rest of the people near him. As the last note of the song died away, the president stepped to the podium.
Trump’s speech was pretty much doctrine at this point. He covered the points anyone who has watched these speeches has already heard on TV, but the applause came at the same points in the speech that you would expect. At one point Trump asked how many had voted early and the crowd roared as seemingly every hand in the arena went up. Trump seemed surprised and asked again with a show of hands. Again it seemed 90% of the hands went up. Trump laughed and said, “Then what the Hell am I doing here,” and began to walk off the stage. The crowd loved this, it was the laugh line of the night.
Trump didn’t back away from claiming that the Left-wing media is the enemy of the people, and repeated this claim again. The crowd began to chant “CNN Sucks” for about 10 seconds. But rather than it being invective, it played as a joke — the people around me were smiling and laughing. Trump was not without a fair point on this. A recent Axios poll showed 92% of Republicans believe news sources report deliberately false or misleading information. Before you dismiss tens of millions of Americans as Right-wing conspiracy kooks, 53% of Democrats also believe the same thing, and so do 79% of Independents. They can’t all be kooks.
There were no Republicans seeking or holding statewide office trying to avoid Trump, including Gov Rick Scott (who is seeking to replace Bill Nelson in the Senate) and Ron DeSantis (who is looking to step into the governor seat). When Scott came out to speak, he received a standing ovation from the crowd, which confounded the fact that he is neck-in-neck with Bill Nelson in these last days before the election. He was popular in that room. The area Congressmen were also present.
The rally ended on a message about unity and Americans being part of one family, which the audience signaled approval of with applause. As he departed the stage, he was waving and pointing at individuals in the crowd and giving thumbs up to them. We all began to file out, it was a laborious process and took awhile. The crowd seemed energetic, orderly and happy.
So, what did I take away from all this? A guy who is more supportive of policy than politicians?
It is one thing to talk to a single or a couple Trump fans, it’s quite another to be elbow to elbow with nearly ten thousand of them in one place for several hours. I didn’t feel menace emanating from anyone or see any aggression or disruption at this rally. Quite the contrary, people were uniformly polite and orderly. Trump seems to be a brand, like Nike or Cadillac; if he was selling officially licensed merchandise he would make billions. And like any brand, he has a persona that the customer deeply identifies with. His followers are not the rich — driving Bentleys, with Guatemalan maids cleaning up after them — they are working class and middle class. And beyond race, sex or religion, seem to have that most in common with each other.
I also think Trump is much more popular than the urban-centric establishment media gives him credit for. On one hand, the media pines away for a common “man of the people” but sneers and mocks populism. Asking several people about what they think nationalism is, they all described variations of it being about pride in their country and its achievements, patriotism, and loyalty to national interests first. This is in stark contrast to the media depiction of a nationalism with dark currents of National Socialist German (Nazis) under-girding it.
Has he taken over the Republican Party? Well, if he has it’s getting things done. Several people told me that while they loved Trump they resented the inability of the Republicans as a party to get anything meaningful accomplished, which I think tells you as much as anything about Trump. He fights back, he gets things done in the minds of his supporters.
On the way home, I couldn’t help but reflect on all the people I talked to who seemed to have little interest in politics prior to Trump. History will someday tell us whether Trump was the cause of this political awakening in them or if he the result of it.
Feature image courtesy of author.