9 Thoughts You Have When Trump Comes To Town

Image: Gage Skidmore

Image: Gage Skidmore

When I heard that The Donald was coming to my small New Hampshire town, it was horrifying. Then heart-warming. Then horrifying again.

1. You feel a little violated.

I first heard about Trump’s visit on my town’s normally neighborly Facebook page. All of a sudden that was the thing to talk about. The memes were flying, and the supporters and haters were out in full force. That’s when I decided not to attend the rally.

2. But then, morbid curiosity gets the best of you.

I started to wonder, What would it really be like? I love to travel, and the Trump machine seemed to me like the most foreign culture I could imagine. “We’re going,” I told my husband.

3. You prepare yourself for the worst.

As we walked around the corner to the school where the rally was held, I steadied myself for flags, crosses, shouting, and signs. I’d have no problem finding Trump supporters to interrogate interview. If I wasn’t clued in by the radiating bigotry, the offensive signs would guide my way.

4. You wonder if you’re in the right place.

There was no shouting and there were no pickets. No media circus. Just a long line of people, chatting politely and waiting to get inside the school. Surely these cannot be the rabid Trump fans, set loose upon my town?

5. Your faith in humanity is (temporarily) restored.

I tried hard to find the radicals, but they weren’t easy to spot. The protesters kept their concerns focused on Trump rather than the people attending the event, and their strongest statement was that he was “very scary.” Even the supporters were mellow: “He says what I’m thinking and what no one else does,” one man told me. Most people were there to sort the actual candidate from the myth.

“I wanted to hear the authentic Donald, not what the media tells us,” said one middle-aged woman, who was attending her first campaign event ever. “Personally, I’m ready for a revolution. I came to see if Donald is my revolution.”

6. But then the candidate speaks.

I was so impressed with the open-minded, informed, and engaged people waiting to see Trump, that I may have forgotten who I was actually seeing. Until someone yelled out a racist comment, and Trump said, “Hey, I can’t say it, but he can.” Until he started talking about the Wall. Until he encouraged an audience member who made a joke about Hillary always being in the bathroom (‘cause us women and our small bladders are always causing problems).

“That’s terrible. Terrible,” Trump said, clearly appreciating the joke. “I’m admonishing you for the press. You are admonished.”

7. You bond with the doubters in the audience.

“You know, I could be doing other things other than running for president,” Trump told the audience.

“We wish you would!” shouted one quick-thinking audience member, and the room was sprinkled with laughter. I wanted to give that man a hug.

8. You hope everyone else saw the same ugliness you did.

“I came hoping to be surprised,” one woman told me afterward. “I was hoping — no offense that the media was shit-stirring and it wasn’t really as bad as they said. But honestly, it was worse.”

“After the rally, we were so angry at Trump and his vague policies but very clear aversion to women and Muslims,” said a young woman who told me before the event that she was very open to Trump’s message. “One man who shouted in support for Bernie Sanders was escorted out, while supporters who were shouting disrespectful remarks toward Muslims were allowed to stay. Infuriating.”

9. But then you become very, very afraid.

“He’s didn’t get [this successful] without knowing how to get along,” one woman said, brushing aside Trump’s comments.

You realize that not everyone there is as horrified as you. Some agree, and others are willing to excuse bad behavior for what they see as the bigger issues.

You realize that no matter how it makes you cringe and scream and stomp, this man could be the next president of the United States.  

“Fifteen hundred people waiting for two hours in 10-degree weather…that has me thinking very differently about his campaign,” one man told me after the event. “He has tapped into something visceral."

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