I knew I was going to have my mind blown by attending a Donald Trump rally, but I wasn’t expecting it to be blown clean out of my ears. Seeing the Donald speak in person burned out my remaining vestiges of Trump Derangement Syndrome like it was ideological chemotherapy. Following him up with a Marco Rubio town hall only reinforced the notion that the Trump Train is headed all the way to the station.
The plan for my second day of reporting on the presidential campaign in Iowa was to swing by Trump’s rally at Central College in Pella, a city of 10,000 about an hour southeast of Des Moines. After taking in the Donald’s bloviating, I would make the two-hour sojourn to Waterloo, where Trump’s former frenemy—now just plain enemy—Ted Cruz was appearing at a rally led by dry-drunk Mormon loonyboy Glenn Beck. It would be the perfect write-up: documenting the end of the most nauseating public bromance since Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness went bowling.
Unfortunately, Trump was an hour late to his own rally, and by the time he’d finished inspiring us to make America great again, my window for getting to Waterloo on time was gone. Instead, I moseyed over to nearby Indianola, where cuckservative Ken doll Marco Rubio was scheduled to induce narcolepsy in college kids.
I rolled into Pella at a quarter to noon, with 45 minutes before the doors opened (and nearly three hours before Trump himself was to speak). There was already a line of several hundred people in front of the auditorium, with national news crews on the scene and merchandise vendors set up across the street. After parking my car, I strolled over to a mustachioed redneck offering buttons with tasteful slogans like “Bomb the Shit Out of ISIS” and “Hot Chicks for Trump.”
“Hey, you know why Trump is speaking in Pella?” the redneck asked me.
“No,” I played dumb.
“It’s ’cause he’s here to make a deal with Pella Windows. He buys Pella windows for the Trump Towers, and he’s doing a rally here because he was gonna be here anyway. At least that’s the rumor.” He seemed proud of himself for knowing this. “So this whole rally is just one big tax write-off for him.”
“Wow, that’s pretty smart.”
“No shit! That’s why he’s the billionaire and we’re the thousandaires!”
I said thanks and walked off. After turning down a Black guy who was selling “Make America Great Again” beanies, I assumed my place in line with the other faithful. As expected, the queue began moving at 12:30, with more congregants sidling up behind me; by the time I was near the doors, the line had extended all the way around the block and out of sight. I eyeballed at least 2,000 people, most likely more.
It was at this point that a gangly, twentyish volunteer cut me off.
“Sorry, sir, fire marshall says you gotta wait,” he stated. “Auditorium’s nearing capacity. If we can’t fit you in, we’ll put you in the overflow building.” He gestured to the brick structure off to the right.
“Oh, okay,” I replied, noticing a Barry Goldwater campaign button on his lapel. “By the way, nice button.”
“Thanks.” He grabbed his lapel, showing it off. “‘In your heart, you know he’s right.'”
It was my lucky day: after ten more minutes of freezing in the snow, I was allowed into the main building. After passing through Trump’s Secret Service detail, I made it upstairs and into the auditorium, where I got even luckier with a seat near the front. As I threw my coat down and pulled out my portable phone charger, the retiree next to me asked if I was “media.”
“Sort of,” I demurred. “I’m documenting this for posterity.”
“Oh, so you’re a groupie?” he joked.
“Nah, nah, it’s okay. I’ve been to three of Trump’s rallies so far.” He beamed. “I love hearing him speak. That lady over there?” He pointed to a middle-aged brunette wearing a Trump volunteer badge. “That’s Janice. I know all the volunteers on a first-name basis.”
Our conversation sort of faded out as I visually scanned the crowd. The auditorium was packed to capacity, the crowd a healthy mix of young and old Whites. There were even a few fuzzy-bearded hipsters a couple rows away.
Donald Trump himself didn’t arrive until 3:30; he was introduced by Senator Chuck Grassley (whose speech I recorded here), as well as a pastor who led us in prayer. I don’t need to describe the reaction Trump got when he strode on stage, because you can see it for yourself: I managed to record a full half-hour of his speech. Watch it below:
In a hour, Trump took on National Review‘s broadside against him (saying “nobody reads it anymore”), mocked Ted Cruz for being slow to attack him, offered a reasonable defense of his views on eminent domain, and more. The ladies next to me discussed asking him to autograph our “Make America Great Again” signs while the crowd hung on the Donald’s every word.
Seeing Trump in person made me realize the depressingly simple secret to his success: he’s the only politician in America who doesn’t condescend to his supporters.
Yes, Trump is successful because of his uncanny skills as a rhetorician. Yes, he’s successful because he advocates for positions that the political establishment despises but normal Americans support. Trump is also successful, however, because he doesn’t insult his fans’ intelligence. He doesn’t pretend to be a Joe Six-Pack clearing brush around his Texas ranch, nor does he spout blatant falsehoods in the name of being “civil”: he allows people to acknowledge the reality they see with their own eyes.
The worst unstated effect of political correctness is that it causes people to doubt their instincts and feel stupid. Denying the reality that Blacks commit a disproportionate amount of crime, that women are physically weaker than men, or that turning your pole into a hole doesn’t make you into a woman requires a colossal amount of doublethink. Living a continuous lie degrades a man mentally, physically, and spiritually. In speaking plainly, Donald Trump treats his supporters with a respect that few other public figures can manage.
By contrast, the Marco Rubio town hall I attended that evening had the atmosphere of a euthanasia party. Beyond drawing only a fraction of Trump’s supporters—I’d be shocked if there were more than 200 people at that town hall—Rubio’s speech was so mechanical that I started looking around at one point to see where he’d stashed the teleprompters. I recorded the first twenty minutes of the town hall, and you can watch it below:
Rubio’s speech consisted of CPAC talking points that were already stale before Obama got elected the first time, and the crowd wasn’t buying what he was selling. Beyond the depressing demographics—it was all atherosclerosis-afflicted retirees, with a smattering of bored College Republicans—the audience was so fatigued, I was wondering if the Rubio campaign was handing out free Quaaludes. The crowd’s applause was lazy, their laughs were forced (though when you’re as unfunny as Marco Rubio, that’s understandable), and their attention was divided.
Donald Trump is such an inspiring figure that his supporters not only gave him a standing ovation when he entered stage left, he had to ask them to sit down. Rubio’s audience could barely be bothered to mug for selfies with him at the end. Yet as Trump himself pointed out in his speech—to approving cheers—the press continues to bury the huge numbers of supporters his rallies attract, while simultaneously pretending that Rubio has enough support to fill a Cheech & Chong reunion show.
I still need to pay the Ted Cruz campaign a visit—as well as seeing what the Democrats are up to—but I’m going to go out on a limb and state that Donald Trump is going to win Iowa. He’s the only GOP candidate with the charisma and courage to win back the Whites who form the bedrock of this nation.
America doesn’t deserve Donald Trump, but we lucked out and got him anyway.
All photos by Matt Forney.