A bunch of Americans are rallying behind the wrong man for all of the right reasons.
Regardless of how you feel about Donald Trump, there’s a reason for his campaign’s impending popularity. A likely culmination of rebellion against failing establishment politics mixed with disdain for mainstream society’s recent embrace of PC culture, Trump has tapped into the hearts and minds of many Americans who are looking for a type of change outside of the typical rhetoric we’ve grown accustom to from Clinton and Sanders. Donald Trump supporters want the nation’s longstanding problems addressed and truly feel they’ve found the right man to solve them. When a Trump rally recently happened in my area, I decided to attend it (in the likeness of a pro-Trump supporter) to see if I agreed with “the silent majority.”
Trump addressing Eugene, Oregon.
The line at the Trump rally.
A lot of my friends attended the event as well. Some out of intrigue and some in genuine support of Trump. In the small (and very liberal) city of Eugene, where I live, this was practically the event of that Friday evening. I arrived early (at the suggestion of a friend) and ended up being relatively close to the front of the queue. As time progressed, thousands of people began to form a long line (video, above) that went from the rally entrance to the end of the Lane Event Center parking lot. As I observed the events happening around those of us waiting to enter the assembly, I began to contemplate.
Is there really a difference between a Donald Trump rally and a carnival?
A merchandise stand selling Trump gear in the parking lot.
A truck that kept parading around the waiting rally attendees. (Their choice to play carnival music over something patriotic was particularly symbolic.)
This guy was basically a hype-man for the pro-Trump crowd. (He comedically encouraged attendees to antagonize anti-Trump protestors.)
More pro-Trump hype-men, singing a country themed Trump anthem and selling merchandise from their vehicle.
Waiting to get into the Trump rally was an experience. But it was one I needed to partake in. Being a republican with Donald Trump as our party’s presumptive nominee meant that the earnest people at this rally were also a representation of the party I subscribe to. A group I’d be linked to by association. As I continued to wait in line, I spent a lot of time conversing with the other people in it. Contrary to media portrayal, the Trump supporters at my city’s rally were surprisingly polite, respectful, nonviolent (inside the rally) and (mostly) unprejudiced. I asked them why they supported Trump and how they felt he could better our country.
Their answers resembled similar statements heard in the media:
“Donald Trump is the successful business man our country needs to get rid of the national debt.”
“Donald Trump isn’t PC, so he won’t take any crap from the establishment.”
“Donald Trump is going to crack down on illegal immigrants so they don’t steal our jobs.”
“As a conservative republican, Donald Trump represents my values.”
“Donald Trump is the Ronald Reagan of our time.”
These were the typical sentiments I heard speckled throughout my conversations with the authentic Trump supporters assembling. The more I listened to their easily disputable claims, the more it dawned on me that this group of Americans was meaningfully confused. Most Trump supporters are all in for a candidate they clearly don’t care to further research. They are passionate about someone who has intentionally coveted ego over substance. Their well-intentioned delusion had blinded them into believing a complete mirage that (like Hillary Clinton) doesn’t even excuse its own inconsistency. And it’s only getting worse.
Me (middle) inside the rally, with two of my political colleagues who attended the rally for similar reasons.
As the wait for Trump finally subsided, the reality TV star and real estate mogul emerged on stage beginning with his usual rhetoric. Over the course of 45 minutes, Donald promised to make America and Oregon “great” without ever detailing how. He demeaned Elizabeth Warren, Hillary Clinton (both deservedly), the media, and anyone else that opposes him. The only honest plans he spoke about setting forth were related to ensuring the continued success of his campaign, which he doted on repeatedly during the event’s entirety. Nothing witnessed from Trump’s display came off as particularly presidential. In fact, there were quite a few times during his rally where I felt like I was at a carnival or music concert — with a lesser caliber of talent.
Donald Trump entering the stage to the extremely presidential sounds of 90’s hit “Get Ready For This.”
Trump greeting Eugene (and surrounding area) residents.
Trump insulting Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren.
Trump talking about his campaign supporters.
Trump exiting the stage to meet with fans.
Trump signing autographs for his Eugene fans.
The Donald Trump rally was like the 2016 election equivalent to an Electronic Dance Music show, but with even less substance. At an EDM concert, a bunch of people gather to watch one person spin a segued body of songs they’ve composed or remixed. There’s typically no live instruments or vocals, yet people overpay to attend these shows, glorifying them as a legitimate music experience when they’re really just an excuse for millennials to get wasted, dance to mindless tunes, and co-mingle in their favorite club gear.
The Trump rally was no different. A bunch of people gathered to watch their favorite candidate spin a mix of vague promise and demagoguery. There were no clearly defined action plans and none of the banter was substantiated by actual intelligence, yet the energetic crowds continued to appropriate the validation of a clearly unqualified man. And for a job as serious as POTUS! This event was an obvious excuse for Donald supporters to gather and be sold Trump branded merchandise while being unabashedly pandered to, cementing their adoration for their favorite reality TV celebrity in an area where they could proudly do so without facing the typical leftist scrutiny that follows those who are unashamedly pro-Trump.
A Trump supporter defending himself against protestors.
On the other side of the fence, anti-Trump protestors gathered on the sidelines to challenge any view that didn’t align with their own. They projected bigoted, mean-spirited and crude insults towards the pro-Trump group while ironically holding signs saying such statements as “Love Can’t Be Trumped.” Most of the protestors were proclaimed Bernie Sanders supporters. While I can understand why someone wouldn’t be fond of Trump the presidential candidate, I do not see the man himself as “evil” or “bigoted.” Donald Trump isn’t most of the things he’s accused of being in reality, he just plays up his stage persona to get attention, make headlines, and garner votes. It actually works, particularly on low information voters.
Video of the anti-Trump protestors.
A group of anti-Trump protestors with their signs.
If a portion of the country believed in your ability to save the United States, wouldn’t you run with it? If pandering to certain demographics only intensified your notoriety versus hurting it, would you not utilize that attention to your own personal benefit and that of your campaign? It’s the same thing the Bernie Sanders campaign does, but in reverse. Donald Trump’s ability to manipulate the media (and his supporters) is brilliant. I just wish that brilliance translated to the type of political substance I could happily rally behind.
A young child with her mother and a rally sign that reads “F–k Trump.”
For a lot of Americans, Donald Trump is the refreshing anti-establishment candidate they’ve been quietly hoping for all along. He’s unforgiving, relentless, anti-PC, strong on illegal immigration and full of promise. But he’s equally egotistical, immature, rude, inconsistent, and unclear on factual policy. His crass behavior is masked under the guise of honesty his followers imprudently postulate. Like the attendees I encountered at his rally, I was entertained and found myself flirting with the fantasy that Donald Trump might actually be the savior America needs. However, my inability to avoid his unstable, intentional, insubstantial, and cheap demeanor clearly overrides my ability to blindly support my party’s presumptive nominee.
There’s a time and place for Trump’s behavior and it’s not at The White House.
As important as conservatism used to be to the republican party, it’s officially been lost on the Trump train. While some think this a good thing, something the GOP needs to foster a new era of refreshed supporters, I couldn’t disagree more. Comparing Donald Trump to Ronald Reagan is like comparing Ringling Bros. Circus to Cirque Du Soleil. The kind of support America needs should be positive, realistic, intelligent and moral. The Trump assembly I recently attended offered none of these qualities. Like Trump’s reality show style campaign, his rally equally lacked legitimacy.
(As our country heads into the general election, I hope that true conservatives keep the aforementioned experience in mind. Donald Trump still hasn’t reached the 1237 delegates needed to officially clench the republican nomination. We still have time to rally behind a GOP candidate qualified enough to defeat Hillary Clinton and maintain our party’s integrity. Don’t give up on America.)