I Went To A Trump Rally

I went to a Trump rally last week in Richmond, VA. Here are some comments and thoughts from my live tweeting/ field notes:

https://storify.com/tressiemcphd/that-time-i-went-to-a-trump-rally

  • Trump appeals to many of the “beautiful people” even though the narrative is that he is a consequence of poor whites losing ground in the new economy.
  • Trump is not that great at the things we give him credit for. He doesn’t whip up the crowd so much as the crowd comes seeking an outlet to vent. Trump doesn’t shape that anger into a collective experience. That’s why there are a lot of blank spaces — or “dead air” as I call it on Twitter — in the rally. He’s not a good fascist and only a passable demagogue. He would never make a JV cheer squad, is what I’m saying. His main selling point is that he is shameless. And, he let’s himself be used for venting.
  • Trump butchers numbers and facts but it doesn’t matter because quantification is not the point. We have to stop thinking that Trump lying will somehow turn off his base. “Mathwashing” (see my note on the storify about the neologism) serves a deeper, emotional need to simply a confusing and complex world. He is very good at that.

This rally was held two days before the tragic, horrific, still-makes-me-cry mass shooting in Orlando. These two events are not distinct. We saw what happens when ideologies about who is human and not; who belongs and who doesn’t; who is an equal participant in our social contract and who is an threat to it spills over through the minds and actions and weapons of people who believe rhetoric is reality. We cannot afford to be blase about this violence. And I can’t thank people enough for keeping eyes on me while I tried to get to know my country at a Donald Trump rally.

 

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