So I attended a Trump rally yesterday. First, let me assure my readers that this isn’t a reversal on my Trump-as-lesser-evil position. I continue to maintain that Trump is not a positive so much as Hillary is a negative. However, I was curious to see what kind of people are supporting this man, and why they were doing so. Why speculate when you can actually see for yourself? Thus I went to the rally and talked to people there to find out what was going on.
Here are my observations.
First, there was an older lady of clear Mexican ancestry who was interviewing with the media talking heads just outside the gates. She was angry and clearly agitated at some of the questions. At first I thought she might be an anti-Trump protester.
No. She was a Trump supporter, and was expressing how pissed off she was that she spent all this time and money coming into the country through the legal channels, and other Mexicans just walked across the border for free. She was saying that they didn’t want to be Americans, and that they just wanted to make money and go back to Mexico. She never wanted to return to that hellhole, and didn’t understand why they did. Other Trump supporters extolled her virtues for coming in the right way.
Second, there were lots of women in the crowd, much more than I expected. Someone had been distributing pink “women for Trump” signs, and I saw a lot of those — more than the regular Trump/Pence signage, actually. The women were louder and more energized than the men. This despite there being an anti-Trump protester outside the venue with a megaphone and a loudspeaker constantly playing back Trump’s “grab ’em by the pussy” comment on repeat.
I talked to one woman about it and she said she didn’t care about the comment, because she’s said worse about men when hanging out with her girlfriends. It may be that Trump lost marginal/borderline supporters for the comment, but it is clear that it didn’t make a dent in his base.
Overall, the anti-Trump protesters were few, and not particularly well-organized. I honestly expected a lot more of them given the media’s focus on them. Either Hillary thinks she has this election in the bag, or they have moved on to other tactics. The First Amendment area was mostly empty.
The people there were nice, peaceful, and nothing at all like what I expected. The area off the Florida State Fairgrounds, where there was parking, was cash-only. $10 to park there. Naturally, I failed to bring cash. The parking attendant let me in anyway, and told me there was an ATM inside where I could get money and come back to pay her. Unfortunately, this ATM was very well-hidden. I asked one of the campaign workers if she knew where it was, and instead of pointing me toward it, she just offered me the $10. I politely declined, and continued my search for the ATM (which I eventually found), but I was impressed nonetheless.
There were no incidents of violence, no craziness, none of the stuff the media has been reporting on. In fact, it was quite the opposite. The rally was held at the amphitheater, which is a venue for a lot of concerts and big events, and I have *never* seen a crowd so well behaved as this one. Usually people are all up in your personal space, jostling, bumping up against you. There would be spilled drinks, screaming people, dirty looks and occasional fights. Not at the Trump rally.
When the rally ended, everyone filed out in orderly fashion, personal space was respected, there was no jostling, or the usual hostile folks trying to force their way out. For me, the contrast was staggering. All this despite the fact that the amphitheater was packed to the gills, and there was a whole crowd outside the venue. The amphitheater has seating for approximately 20,000, plus an additional space for around 1,000 to stand up front (usually a mosh pit when bands are in town). So there was around 21,000 in the venue, and an indeterminate number outside.
There were two people at the rally that I suspect were plants. Again, the crowd was exceptionally well behaved, and so these two women (who appeared to me rather like SJWs) screaming and exaggerating everything Trump said were very out of place. They seemed to be agitating for something, but to the crowd’s credit, everybody ignored them. A man seated next to me wondered if Soros paid them to be there.
I expressed to a few people there that I wasn’t really a Trump supporter, and I didn’t personally care for the man. I expected people to get in my face about that. Certainly there’s been a lot of that on Facebook. Instead I received mostly sympathetic responses. A number of people felt likewise. One man said that he still didn’t like Trump, but that America deserved someone who at least wasn’t a felon.
Another man said he was an immigrant from Hungary, and that he didn’t care much for Trump’s boisterous attitude, but that he was very worried about militant Islamics getting in and causing trouble. He said that Eastern Europe has long memories in that regard. More than a few cited wikileaks as their reason for going Trump. I was surprised how many people had actually read through many of the emails.
The crowd itself was a blend from all walks of American life. There were Working Class folks in large numbers, who I still think comprise Trump’s base. But there were a lot more Upper-Middle class folks in the audience than I expected. I may have underestimated his support there. There were more minorities than I expected, also. Especially blacks. It was still more white than America-at-large, but contrary to media spin, Hispanics and blacks were very well represented.
The rally itself was strange. I have very little to compare it to, because I don’t usually attend these sorts of things as I don’t go in for this politician worship. They had a smattering of guest speakers, and went with a strongly anti-Obamacare message, overall. The guest speakers included a doctor of Cuban descent, a local black bishop, and a number of Republican party politicians from the area, most of whom I recognized.
It was very high energy, in terms of the music they played, and the way Trump spoke. It is clear that whatever Trump’s other faults (and they are legion), he is a good public speaker and knows how to work a crowd. The crowd occasionally burst out into spontaneous chants of “USA” and “Lock Her Up.” There was an awkward moment when Trump said that the media would not pan the cameras and show how big the crowd was, and when he said this, only one camera did (I presume that was Fox, but I don’t know). The rest of the media just sort of stood there awkwardly and did nothing. They never did show the crowd. Of course, the crowd booing them probably didn’t make them any more willing.
I was wondering if the populism would feel wrong. I’m a big skeptic when it comes to populism, though I don’t care for elitism either. And a number of folks have worried that Trump could spin his populist appeal into tyranny. It didn’t feel that way. The crowd was very normal, for lack of a better way to put it. I got no sense that this man was being held up as some kind of demigod or demagogue. I did, however, get a very strong sense that they absolutely loathed Hillary Clinton. That seems to be the big unifying factor for them. I doubt that Jeb would have commanded the same kind of strong support, but at the same time, I don’t think Trump would have been received like this if it weren’t for the fact that Hillary was so terrible. Thus I am less worried of a populist-backed tyrant in the form of Trump than I was before attending this rally. It didn’t feel like a fascist thing in any way, regardless of how the media spins it. And bear in mind, I’m a career cynic in this regard. I would most definitely tell you if I got even a whiff of that sort of thing.
None of this changes my opinion of Donald Trump, mind you. I don’t like him, and I don’t think I ever will. I’ll vote for him because my hatred of Hillary is so strong. But that’s as far as I will go. Yet my opinion of his supporters has changed somewhat. Certainly the media portrayal of them as violent racists and sexists is complete bullshit. The old Mexican woman who came in legally was held up as a model by other Trumpites. His black supporters were welcomed, and one guy said of the black bishop “nobody preaches to a crowd better than a black man of God.” And the women were louder and more supportive than the men. There was no violence, and in fact there was a considerably bizarre level of respect for personal space that I’ve not experienced in a very long time. These people were genuinely nice, and the two hecklers were largely ignored.
At this point, I have nothing to compare between Trump’s campaign and Hillary’s campaign. And I’m not sure I can find the stomach to attend a Hillary rally. But if I can, it would be interesting to compare.
So as a fair warning, most of this post is anecdotal. It’s all true, mind you, but it’s also based mostly on my personal experience. So please don’t take it as Gospel. The media is telling us that Trump has no chance of defeating Hillary. FiveThirtyEight puts him at about a 13% chance of victory. However, there are some polls regarded as more accurate in recent elections that give Trump about an even chance, or a little better. The swing is from something like 15 point Hillary victory on to a 2 point Trump victory. With such a wide spread, one could be forgiven for thinking they are all full of shit. With media bias in full swing, none of the polls are what I would call trustworthy.
The proper answer for this election right now is “I have no fucking idea.”
Trump supporters, of course, tell us that there is a great groundswell of hidden Trump support (the so-called “Trump Closet”), and that Trump rallies are full and Hillary rallies, when they even happen, are relatively empty. This, they say, is evidence of an impending Trumpslide. So I thought I’d put together my thoughts on them.
Is there a “Trump Closet”? In short: yes, absolutely.
I remember a gay guy saying that it was harder to come out of the closet as a Trump supporter than as a gay man. But I know many people who publicly remain uncommitted or who “hate both” candidates, but have confided in me that they are secretly voting Trump. The reasons for this are varied. Some are afraid they will lose their jobs if they come out as Trump supporters. Others are afraid they will lose friends, or be labeled racist, sexist, etc… A couple were once NeverTrumpers, and don’t want to admit publicly that they’ve changed their minds.
So how big is the Trump Closet? And how many don’t even tell pollsters the truth? I can’t say for sure. Again, this is all anecdotal. But it’s definitely non-trivial. Unless the polls are accounting for this, they will be off.
What’s going on with Trump Rallies? Is this evidence of a Trumpslide? In short: a very mixed bag.
So I’m in an unusual position to comment on this. I am, on the one hand, accounted as a relatively Upper-Middle Class quasi-intellectual (I hate the term “intellectual” but I have to use something here) Conservative. This meaning I make a high wage, my field is one that requires a high degree of intelligence and education, and I am admitted to such social circles whenever I wish.
On the other hand, much of my family is Working Class. So I share some of the Working Class values and culture. Thus when I bring my Mustang to the local muscle car meetups, I’m not accounted as a foreigner. There is dirt under my fingernails, I can work on my own car, and hell, I’ve even hung my share of drywall and done construction work on occasion.
Point being, I hear both perspectives on this election first-hand, and the contrast is staggering.
First off, the Working Class supports Trump like nobody I’ve ever seen. Perhaps Reagan in 1980 had this level of Working Class support. Nobody else has. At the muscle car meetups, it may very well be 100% Trump. And they are vocal about their Trump support. They love the guy (I don’t, but that’s another story). If Working Class Americans were the only ones voting, Trump would win in a landslide. Many of them have gone to the rallies. These are the folks likely to be filling the stadiums and cheering for him.
On the Upper-Middle Class side of things, the exact opposite is happening. Conservative intellectuals are, in my experience, very divided. I’d say in a very unscientific manner, that approximately 1/3 of them are Trump supporters, but no where near as enthusiastic as Working Class supporters. Another 1/3 are, like myself, reluctantly going Trump. Consider such notables as Tom Kratman and Kurt Schlichter in this category. They will go Trump, but more because they hate Hillary than any kind of love for the Donald. A final 1/3 are strongly NeverTrump. But I’ve seen some of them cracking, too. Hillary’s campaign is ruthlessly pursuing the racism and sexism angle, and the NeverTrumpers are seeing that. I’ve seen a number of memes posted by them along the lines of “please don’t talk me into voting Trump.” There is a risk that Hillary will make herself look so bad, that even those who hate Trump will be talked into voting for him to keep her out.
So, it is my thought that some, but not all, NeverTrumpers will crack on election day, and cast very reluctant votes for the Donald, go home, get blasted drunk, and conveniently forget they’ve done so.
In other words, support from the bottom for Trump will be much, much stronger than previous elections. Support at the top will be weaker, but probably not as bad as some suspect.
Conclusion? Trump will probably gain here, but not by nearly as much as rally attendance would suggest.
So what does that mean?
To me, it means that the election polls are probably off base, and they should not be trusted. The Trump Closet is likely very large. This election is strange. The conventional rules don’t apply. The demographics are very different, and voter turnout could defy expectations — in either direction. I still think Trump is more likely to lose than to win, especially when one considers that to defeat the Democrats, you need a comfortable margin. If it’s close, the voting dead will tilt it to the Democrats.
But I also think the chance of victory for Trump is much higher than most polls, and FiveThirtyEight, suggest.
Tom Kratman is not exactly a subtle man, at least not when he’s speaking politics, anyway. And he knocks one out of the park here: Trumping Hillary. The one liner that ought to stick in your memory is this little tidbit:
Our choice is Hillary or Trump or a hopeless third party candidate, presumably Johnson and Stein.
But Hillary? Look, if Hitler and Hillary were on opposite sides on the same ballot, I’d have to say, “Well, I’m only a quarter Jewish; how bad could Hitler be?”
Of course, he is being facetious here, though only in part. The thing to note here is that if anyone has a record of racism, sexism, corruption, hatred of the poor, and a variety of other such ills, it is Hillary, not Donald Trump. Trump is an asshole and an egotist. And he would probably say just about anything if he thought it would grant him what he wants: a place in the history books as something other than slumlord to the elite. These charges may be justly laid at his feet.
But the trifecta of bigotry that the Left is fond of using as a political cudgel? No, my friends, that is Hillary. Neither of these candidates is a literal Hitler, and I’ve spoken of this Reductio ad Hilterum phenomenon before. But if any candidate is more likely to mutate into an omnicidal dictator bent on inciting a World War, it is Hillary, not Trump.
Nonetheless we have entered into the political Twilight Zone. Nothing makes sense anymore, the old alignments are collapsing and America is fragmenting along her ethnic, religious, and economic fault lines. Decades of divisive rhetoric from the far Left has exacerbated this, and accelerated the spiraling stupidity. We are here, at the event horizon, circling the toilet bowl of history, no hope in sight, only the slim possibility that a billionaire playboy with a penchant for bombastic speech could delay the fall awhile, perhaps long enough for someone more genuine to come to the fore. Then again, perhaps not.
All I know for certain is that a vote for Hillary is a vote for turning into that singularity of idiocy at full throttle, no brakes on this train, off the cliff, forever. I’ve never said this of any political candidate before, not even Obama, for Hillary has a level of control over the corruptocracy that even Obama could never manage.
Tom Kratman explains for us:
Conversely, I suspect Hillary intends to, and is sure she can, dictate what the history books will be allowed to say. Don’t think so? What about all those women politicians who walked point; Jeannette Rankin, Cynthia McKinney, Geraldine Ferraro, Lenora Fulani, Hattie Caraway, Linda Jenness and Jill Stein? They’ve been made unpersons, for all their contributions were recognized at the Democratic convention so that Hillary could look like the trailblazer. Why should Hillary worry about history books when she or her party can dictate their contents, their, for lack of a better word, Pravda?
“Call for Comrade Ogilvy. Comrade Ogilvy, Clinton Campaign Headquarters calling. Comrade Ogilvy to the red phone, please.”
Go forth and read the rest… I know, dear readers, pulling the lever for the militant hairpiece is about as unpleasant a thing as any man might do. Given the option of taking heavy grit sandpaper to my junk, and voting for this man… it’s a tough call, it truly is. But I say to you right now that there is a difference between them. They are not equally bad.
Some have said that Trump is equivalent to Saruman. Perhaps so. But if it is only Saruman, or Sauron, who then? Others have compared him to Darth Vader. Yes, Vader. But if given the choice between Vader and Emperor Palpatine, what then? There are those who even say that Trump is a Mussolini. Yes, yes, perhaps even that. But then, what if the choice is Mussolini, or Hitler? History is full of decisions of realpolitik, taking the situation for what it is rather than what we wish it to be.
Realpolitik says Trump, or Hillary. Consider that very carefully, and make your choice accordingly.