Dispatch from Dalton
I went to the Trump rally last night. I had to see it firsthand. A few observations:
(1) 99% of the crowd is indeed white, evenly split on gender, but there were some POC in attendance, particularly latino.
(2) first order of business after the national anthem is dispensing with the racism accusation to create safe space for the content: the first anecdote from the stage was about receiving unsolicited donation from a black voter, the 2nd speaker was a black man, a regular theme brought up in all speeches was to deride the accusation that GOP is racist, which was met with boos.
(3) The majority of the people I talked to were from out of state and had traveled for hours to be there (Gainesville, Knoxville, Alabama, Texas), some on their way to DC to “stop the steal”. This reflects the rural characteristics of his base, the fervent enthusiasm of their support. Every person I spoke with believed with fervency every aspect of Trump’s narrative, both when I asked about specifics (“Do you believe that Trump got more votes in Georgia?” Definitely.) as well as the generic (“Is there anything you have heard from him so far that you believe to be untrue?” No.)
(4) Boos against enemies were much more energetic than the cheers for accomplishments or proposed policies. Some very regular themes predictably reflect the talking points: (a) Democrats want to take away Democracy, First amendment rights (ie job discrimination against Trump supporters, “Cancel-culture”), religion, and second amendment rights (b) Pelosi, AOC, Kamala are the chief masterminds. Biden is a child molester and rubber stamp for the deep state, (c) “the media” is the constant opponent, (d) Democrats want to raise taxes, close schools, close businesses, give all the money to “illegals”
(5) Heard from crowd and from the podium: “If Biden wins this election, say goodbye to Democracy” “Thats not what he meant, the media always distorts what he says (re the GA SOS tape)” “Have you seen the video of Biden torturing and sexually abusing those girls?” “I do my own research — that is one thing about me ask anyone that I know. I did my own research and there is no way Biden won Georgia.” “Radical socialist communist leftist marxist Democrats” Many of supporters and speakers arguments mirror Democratic arguments, with the protagonists reversed: “There are no more moderate Democrats” “If we dont do something to stop this, there wont ever be another election in America.”
(6) Trump arrived dramatically, in Marine One and some supporters cried. As Marine One circled overhead, “Fortunate Son” blared on the speakers. This transitioned to “We Are the Champions” and then immediately preceding Trump stepping on stage “Macho Man”.
(7) a small group chanted “Black Lives Matter” and were met with slurs and physical confrontation and eventually chants of “USA USA USA”. The crowd gathered around them yelling expletives and insults. One yelled to them: “Why don’t you go to China where you belong!”
(8) The chaos of the exit, the flat topography of the space prevent attendees from getting a clear sense of the size. I would have guessed that there were 3–5,000 people in attendance, but lacked an overhead view. Yahoo News reported 2,000 but supporters asserted 50,000, which is definitively untrue. The size of the event is deeply important to them.
(9) People started leaving 10 minutes into Trump’s speech, and were leaving in droves 40 minutes into Trump’s speech. He went on for 90 minutes. The event organizers had no plan for that early and large of an exit and had to quickly assemble barricades. They would not let anyone leave until the President’s team had given the OK. One man next to me commented, “you know the guys running this must be democrats” in frustration.