On Sunday, November 6th, 2016 two days before the 2016 Presidential Election my friends and I were watching football and talking politics. You couldn’t get away from it. The ads, the social media, a giant Trump plane flying overhead. As we sat there discussing how insane the whole phenomenon of Donald Trump had become we learned that there was a Trump rally literally happening two miles away that was starting in 45 minutes. So we went.
I can say that I have a certain enjoyment for the political season. It’s fascinating to see the perspectives, the differences, and observe the psychology of it all. I have been very outspoken this political season on my own social media pages and genuinely found the interactions my opinions and posts have caused really interesting. I’ll state very clearly that I think Donald Trump is the most embarrassing excuse for leadership our nation has ever presented. Which in turn has made this election one of the more entertaining we’ve ever seen. However, this is NOT, and should NOT be entertainment. These are our lives. Whether you choose to participate or not in the political conversation, or even vote for that matter, make no mistake you will absolutely be affected by the outcome.
I went to the rally to see first hand what it was that I was so against. I figured if I could sit behind a keyboard and watch the videos, read the hysterics, formulate my judgments, and throw cyber stones that have contributed to the chaos of this campaign I needed to see it for myself. What I saw was an environment that allowed the darkest qualities that our nation can foster the freedom to peak their heads into the public light for just few hours. It was as if someone said for just this afternoon you could be the evil you feel, and you can do it in public. The crowd and the speech spewing out of the speakers fueled that fire. The energy was violent. Patriotism was a mask for hateful rhetoric. I felt that by standing in the center of this crowd, taking in the chants and absorbing the words being spoken around me that I was now concretely justified in the words I have already written about Trump. The words I have written about a large portion of his supporter (not all), and the message he is selling both blatantly and subconsciously. It was actually more awful than even I could have imagined. It’s one thing to see such hate on a screen and be able to brush it off as simply the media. It’s another thing altogether to be submerged in the pep rally of America’s hidden flaws and shame.
Donald Trump is a celebrity. In America we love celebrity. What basketball team Kevin Durant will play for holds more importance in our attention span than when 49 people are killed in a gay nightclub in Orlando. Don’t believe me? Go to Google right now and type “Orlando”, the first suggestion is Orlando Bloom, a far cry from Orlando Shooting. Now if Orlando Bloom had been in that nightclub we’d be having a far different conversation. So how does this relate to Trump’s celebrity? Our culture has blurred the lines between realistic achievement and fame. Fame holds a certain level power and power is an attraction. We also associate fame with success. We assume that being famous means being rich, which must mean being capable. That is not always the case. If Kevin Durant had decided he was going to play basketball for the New York Yankees we’d all be scratching our heads and laugh it off as a joke. So why on EARTH we accept that Donald Trump can run for President is beyond me. It is also a very disturbing quality that is becoming more and more prevalent in our nations personality. Actual achievement and celebrity become further less reliant on one another. Even scarier, celebrity has taken precedence over accomplishment and that has miraculously reached presidential levels. Quite literally.
The day an America hears the words “You’re fired” in a sentence tends to be one of the worst days most of us will experience. Yet here we are idolizing a man that has made those very words his motto. Think about that, he has made a celebrity of himself by exploiting what most Americans would consider one of the worst things they will ever experience, being fired. And we are considering, very truthfully, putting this man in the drivers seat of our nation. That is not a mentality of hope, or change, or inspiration, or dreams, or success, or ambition, or leadership, or of DEMOCRACY. The fact that half of our nation believes what this man is spewing is proof enough that we need to think very seriously about what we are. How did we allow this? How did we allow our neighbors, friends, family, classmates, co-workers, that guy on the bus, the lady at the bank, and on and on and on… to become so unaccountable for the values that the United States of America is built to represent?
What I witnessed at the Trump rally was truly the mold of America’s future. That mold was given a breath of oxygen in the form of Donald Trump and it grew at a rapid pace. Ideas of racism, fear, ignorance, and complete dismissal of fact in order to fuel that moldy growth were inflamed. There was no basis for the hate other than the uncomfortable joy that people seemed to experience having been given a platform to express the hate, the racism, the fear, the ignorance. I stood there and listened to people stoically pronounce entire cultures as terrorists. I watched an Eastern African man on the tarmac of the airport working as the crowd uttered slurs of racism and fear that a man of color was employed at an airport. I heard thousands of people completely dismiss our very own Federal Bureau of Investigations findings of emails, yes, emails of all things, as though they were the equivalent of two planes hitting the Trade Centers themselves. They wanted Hillary dead, because of emails that our highest levels of investigators have ruled to be nothing at all. TWICE. That’s the level of disillusion this crowd exemplified. Trump’s supporters wanted nothing other than the chance to let their hate and anger and bigotry be heard outside of their own privacy. This was a festival atmosphere with the hope and carelessness that could dismantle a free and equal nation. The very being of what makes this country great.
Trump’s very speech began with an insult to the organizers of the event. He begins his campaign to obtain your vote in a BLUE state by insulting and degrading those working his event. The man whom is running for president reduces his own rally by saying, “That’s what we have to put up with in life, real geniuses.” That is the essence of Trumps campaign. He continues to assure the crowd that our country is “Going to HELL”. With no fact, no reference, no reasoning he wants us to believe we are in a state of hell. The irony of the situation when Trump proclaims that “generations of radicalism, and terrorism” would be imported into Minnesota was obscene to the clear-headed observer. Ironically I was ACTUALLY STANDING IN A CROWD OF RADICALSIM AND EXTREMISM! They just happened to all be white, angry, and afraid. As Trump casually empathizes with Minnesotans for our suffering having had to live beside Somalis I couldn’t help but cringe as the heads in the crowd nodded confidently with approval. Listening the to guy to my left yell out, “I wore my combat boots for a reason!” There was no sense. No logic. The speech itself had no real context, only claims. Its focus was on imaginary disasters, and how bad the current leadership is. Nothing was truly explained as people jumped and cheered and chanted. It was as if the entire speech was the first sentence of a paragraph and he simply forgot to read the body. It was hard to comprehend that this was a PRESIDENTIAL speech!
The fact is what he says doesn’t matter, let alone make any sense. He IS the Republican nominee. On Tuesday he DOES have a chance. Americans have actually diluted their sensibilities to the point that we are bringing a person of this magnitude of intolerance to the world’s biggest podium.
The one positive take away I can come up with about the overall nature of the rally is that at least these people were there. This is an Internet election. I read daily posts from all sides of people saying that they simply don’t care about politics, and if so-and-so is elected they’re moving. I find that incredibly weak. This is your country. I’m personally not going anywhere if Trump is elected. It just means I am going to have to work harder and make my voice even louder. We do not have to allow this kind of mold to define our society, to consume and eat away at the opportunity and greatness we are fortunate enough to live with here in America. We are in control of the world we wish to live in. As much as there are hoops to be jumped through there is still very much a passion to be a better nation. That is regardless of what you envision that nation to look like. Politics are not going anywhere; to dismiss them as annoying is to forfeit your voice for change. To accept the ideology that has brought Donald Trump into this conversation is to concede that we are a nation that lacks integrity, that lacks honor, that lacks morals, that lacks compassion, that lacks hope.
In one of the most unprecedented elections in history it is very clear that Trump is without a doubt one of the greatest threats to the things that make me a proud American. You don’t have to agree. But to disagree would simply mean you are not paying very close attention or that you are most likely harboring a great deal of anger and fear. Unfortunately anger and fear are not the virtues of America.
We live in the most diverse and free nation on the planet. And that gift is being threatened. Vote.