“It is a lot harder to vilify a man for whom 10,000 people will make a pilgrimage for only the chance to see him. I can say—despite my complaints—that I am proud and honored to have been among them.”
I attended a Trump rally, and it was torture. To be precise, twenty-four hours of abject torture.
What made the rally torturous, you might ask?
First of all, I got there the night before.
Then, there were the sounds. After standing in a line that snaked through the seasonal South Jersey shore-town of Wildwood, I had almost memorized the dialogue of a 10 minute Real News Update clip of Lara Trump interviewing Diamond and Silk blasting on the jumbo-tron on repeat. And, by the time, I made it into the venue, I had heard “Free Bird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd nearly 40 times. “I’m as free as a bird now…” Still stuck in my head. But I don’t want to get it out.
The porta-potties. Unimaginable. About a dozen of them. An estimated 10,000 people in line. Do the math. I have never had to go to the bathroom so badly in my life. In line, I watched folks slowly open the doors and then quickly shut them disgusted, gagged expressions on their faces. Pretty funny, all things considered.
I was cold. It was windy. Cigarette smoke was blowing in my face. In my sleep deprivation, several times the thought crossed my mind to give up and go back to my car. But the people I met, especially three older women from the Meadowlands kept me going. The joy on their faces when we made it to the Secret Service security checkpoint. Priceless. It was like Christmas. Better than Christmas.
Sleep? fuhgeddaboudit, as many of the North Jersey natives at the rally would say. My pillow, sleeping bag, and camping mat that I schlepped through the long and treacherous line did me no good. I slept on the floor of the asphalt parking lot adjacent to the Wildwoods Convention Center. Trumpers blasting heavy metal woke me at 3 am. Then, distant “USA…USA” chants at 4. I was hoping the bright lights illuminating the parking lot would be turned off, but they remained on until dawn.
When I heard the President—my President—brag that the terrorist, General Soleimani, is not around anymore. When I heard the Deplorables shout, “BUILD THAT WALL, BUILD THAT WALL,” and I, I, the very Ivy league academic that Trumpers resent, joined in with the construction workers, fire fighters, farmers, policemen, it was then I knew. I knew. Somehow, the torture had been worth it.
Food? I ate two foot-long Wawa hoagies (or “subs” where I’m originally from). Yet, many of my fellow linemates survived on chips and candy.
Did I mention it was cold? I couldn’t feel my feet. I was hungry. I was dehydrated. I had to go to the bathroom again. I was on the verge of collapse. I now understood why there was a bus-sized ambulance parked outside of the Wildwoods Convention Center.
Then, finally so many hours later, I was inside. And then—not long after—Trump came on stage. Slowly walking up to the podium adorned with the Presidential Seal. The crowd. It was electric.
When I heard the President—my President—brag that the terrorist, General Soleimani, is not around anymore. When I heard the “Deplorables” shout, “BUILD THAT WALL, BUILD THAT WALL,” and I, I, the very Ivy league academic that many Trumpers may resent, joined in with the construction workers, firefighters, farmers, policemen, it was then I knew. I knew. Somehow, the torture had been worth it.
The cameras are there for the President’s speech, sure. But what so many people—all over America—don’t know is the extent of the dedication of the Trump fans. They displayed that dedication in Wildwood the night the rally was held, as well as during the long night before. (For a few of the most dedicated, they arrived—believe it or not—the night even before that.) They have also displayed this dedication at rallies all over America. I might be something of a complainer. But for the alleged 100 or so Trumpers who were camping in harsh conditions for forty-eight hours—rather than my measly twenty-four—not a peep of complaint was to be heard from them. I never heard a single grumble in the line.
The extent of their dedication is of monstrous proportions. The media does not want you to know this. It is a lot harder to vilify a man for whom 10,000 people will make a pilgrimage for only the chance to see him. I can say that—despite my complaints—I am proud and honored to have been among them.
The author is a PhD student at an Ivy League university.