I’ll start by explaining myself and my bias, I was Bernie delegate this year for my Congressional District in Colorado, and while I don’t consider myself a Bernie or Bust-er, I do consider myself a conscientious voter who’s support and trust must be won to earn my vote. As a lifetime Democrat it has been a painful experience to feel my voice being muted and disregarded by my party and the media, all while being expected to fall into line and join the Hillary train without any motivation other than the Never Trump movement. Trying to be as open and unbiased as I could muster, I decided I would attend the Trump rally that was happening in Colorado in the days after the Democratic National Convention. I had spent the last year hearing the media incorrectly portray Bernie and his supporters to skew support towards Clinton. It was with this experience I figured I owed Trump at least a chance to prove that he wasn't the monster that the media said he was, especially since the recent Wikileaks showed that Clinton campaign had been actively pushing for a media smear campaign against him.
When I walked into the rally I was struck by the perfection of the location they had chosen, it was an aeronautical museum filled with fighter jets and a gigantic American flag hanging at the end of the hanger. It screamed American values and showed support for the military, what more could want out of a backdrop?
The media had to arrive early, so we had a long wait between our arrival and Trump’s speech. In those three hours I spent my time meandering around the crowd and was struck by the normalcy of everyone there. I had expected that my liberalness would stick out on me like a sore thumb, and that insults would be hurled in my direction. That wasn't the case for the most part, everyone was incredibly nice to me, save for one woman whom after giving me permission to take her family’s photo (I’ve not included it for the sake of her children's’ privacy) came running after me to investigate if I was a liberal.
The one thing that stood out most was the incredible lack of diversity of the crowd. Out of a crowd of about 7,000, I saw only a handful of people of color. Trump’s vision of a great America is clearly one of absolutely no diversity. It was obvious from the crowd that Trump has tapped into the ignorance of the #AllLivesMatter movement that is incapable of understanding that bringing everyone up to the same socio-economic level doesn't mean that their own rights and freedoms will be removed.
The speakers before Trump seemed to try and counteract this lack of diversity in the crowd, but instead that only seemed to highlight it. The first speaker was a gay man whom ran a business in Colorado whom argued that the Left doesn't own the support of everyone in the LGBTQ community and that the GOP cares about the LGBTQ too. It was painful to listen to his words given that the GOP just fought to place conversion therapy and revoking equal marriage rights on their party platform a week earlier. He also had to awkwardly plead to get the crowd to do a chant of “Lock her up” during which I heard one man scream, “Hang her” repetitively. The next speaker was an alternate delegate at the RNC whom was a black female. During both speakers it seemed as if the crowd was justifying the institutionalized racism and homophobia of the GOP platform as being okay because these two speakers agreed with it.
When Trump finally spoke, I was horrified with the disjointedness of his speech. It was utterly incoherent due to the lack of his attention span. He bounced from one idea to another and back again with no rhyme or reason. It was painful to watch and difficult to try and keep up with. His arguments weren't thought out and the specific facts he used to justify them were based on data that was conveniently skewed to make his point but in proper context actually did the opposite. For the most part his speech just felt like the ramblings of your crazy uncle that likes the sound of his own voice a little too much. But, there were some scary notes to it, most notably when he spoke of the usefulness of torture and that he believed it to be an effective, ethical and reliable source of information despite a vast amount of research that has consistently pointed out the opposite to be true.
The thing about this rally was that it wasn’t the Fascist horror show that I was expecting; instead it was just a sad display of ignorance and fear mongering. These were people that were goaded into believing that the elevation of people that are different than them be it culturally, ethnically, religiously or otherwise, would cause danger to their lives or lifestyle. These are people that were told by the 24-hour news cycle that “Islamic extremism” is the most dangerous thing in their life or that there is an impending race war. It was these fears that Trump has able to tap into and exploit. That is what is scary about Trump more than anything that he is vocalizing the fears and ignorance that white America had previously been too politically correct to voice proudly. I don't think Trump is the monster the media has made him out to be, not because his ideas and opinions aren't scary, but rather because they give him credit for a level of sophistication and thought to his campaign that simply doesn't exist.
-Words and photos by Emily Brie Equi (Special Contributor)