We went to the Trump rally in (sorry, “on”) Long Island Wednesday night and it was a blast. He chose Bethpage, which is a relatively blue-collar town, and the rally was in the same airplane hangar they used to build F-14s in. I was with cabdriver comic Jimmy Failla, who was dressed like an ice cream man because he had just done the Kennedy show with me that afternoon, and Staten Island city councilman Joe Borelli, who breezed past us into the VIP section. Jimmy went to the front and I hung back to interview the attendees, but we all reconvened to discuss the event on my show the next day. I was surprised by how incredibly well-informed Trump’s supporters were/are. When Bernie supporters are asked which policy of his they like, they usually say, “All of them” and “It’s hard to choose just one.” When asked what Trump policy they hate, they say, “All of them” and “It’s hard to choose just one.” When I asked Trump supporters what they like about him, they had real answers. Now, this isn’t a reliable poll and it’s possible I’ve been introduced to the best of Trump and the worst of Bernie, but my personal experience has been that the contrast between the two groups is amazing. I’d say 90% of Trump supporters are well-informed and only 10% of Bernie fans are.
The first guy we talked to was wearing an NRA hat and explained that although Bernie is reasonable with some Second Amendment issues (Sanders doesn’t think gun sellers should be culpable for crimes involving their guns), he is against automatic weapons and if you’re against that, you’re against gun ownership. He said Trump was too liberal on guns in the past but has come to his senses. I was reminded of John Derbyshire’s contention that Trump is the best man for the job, although “he could still break our hearts.”
The audience was predominantly male, but there were a lot more millennials than I expected. I spoke to a kid who chose Trump because the candidate seemed the most libertarian out of all of them. Another young lady said she loves him because he “tells it like it is.” A man carrying a Trump sign praised The Donald’s fiscal responsibility, and when I implied that it’s because Trump is part Scottish the man quoted Braveheart by screaming “FREEDOM!” at the top of his lungs. Every time I spoke to someone slightly eccentric, a Trump supporter would yell at me for cherry-picking the weirdos in an effort to make their candidate look bad. I understand their cynicism.
Even as a Trump supporter myself, I was surprised by how calm and collected everyone was because I’m used to the sieg-heiling freaks they show on TV. I was happy to see my old weed dealer there until he told me he’s there because he hates Trump, and proceeded to go into a weird rant that began by calling conservatives hypocrites for being pro-life and pro–death penalty (I couldn’t convince him a baby’s life has more value than a mass murderer’s) and ended with him demanding “black lives matter” like it’s a controversial thing to say. Whenever I get specific with these liberals, I almost always learn they have no idea what they’re talking about. This guy had no idea capital punishment is a deterrent, mass shooters choose gun-free zones, and about 5,000 young black men are murdered by young black men every year. As I keep saying to these people over and over again, “If you care so much, why haven’t you looked it up?”
Donald’s Orthodox Jewish daughter, Ivanka, introduced her father, which was impressive considering she gave birth only a few days ago. We could tell the music introducing everyone was being played off an iPod because we could hear the jack make that “ca-chunk” sound every time it was unplugged. In that sense, the event had a cheapness about it that seemed bare-bones. We were in an airplane hangar, after all. I really appreciated that. I don’t want politicians spending money on focus groups and fluffing up events with red carpets and polished presentations. I want cement floors and the ugly truth. When Trump arrived, everyone went ballistic and Failla said he hadn’t seen this kind of excitement since he saw Guns N’ Roses play back in high school. It was more like a rock concert than a political speech. Trump was clearly making it up as he went along and asked if we thought Ivanka did a good job. “Thank God,” he replied to the cheering, “I don’t want to have to say ‘You’re fired.’” The fans wanted to hear about the wall more than anything and even began chanting “BUILD A WALL!” early. I thought of The New York Times’ shocking exposÃ© where they caught Trump admitting he brings up the wall when things are getting boring. His opponents took that to mean he’s lying about it and I have no idea why. Just because something gets people riled up doesn’t mean it’s not true. Eventually, he took their advice and yelled back that he’s going to “BUILD A WALL,” and the place went insane. They weren’t cheering because they hate Mexicans. They were cheering because finally someone at the top understands that something illegal should be illegal. Fifty million illegals is too many. Ask any country in the world—including Mexico.
I began to notice arrests as interlopers from the other side were caught harassing and even getting violent with supporters. They were brought out in handcuffs, but when a crazy-looking bisexual kid (pictured) with blond dreads and a T-shirt that said “America Was Never Great” started yelling at the crowd, he wasn’t arrested. He was escorted out. I followed him out and was truly impressed with the wide berth he was given. This kid’s shirt also said “Fuck Trump Supporters,” and he was totally alone in a mob of Trump supporters (maybe 2,000 couldn’t get in). Nobody bothered him. Try wearing a Yankees jersey anywhere in Boston at any time. Try wearing a T-shirt that says “NYPD” at any rap concert. Try dressing like a bisexual punk at a Black Panthers rally with a shirt that says “Fuck the Black Panthers.” You’d be dead. I interviewed the kid and he answered, “Everything” when asked what he most dislikes about Trump. I forced him to choose one thing and he said, “He’s sexist.” Apparently Trump is sexist because he’s against abortion and a woman’s right to choose. When I pointed out that about half the women in America are pro-life, which means it’s neither sexist nor feminist to be against it, he said he’d have to look up that statistic—which is what they all say.
The farther we got from the convention, the weirder things got. Eventually we made it to a fenced-in area where protesters were screaming at people leaving the venue. They were free to approach us face to face (we were about 100 feet from the fenced-in area), but they seemed happy to stay in their pen. Slowly, supporters made their way toward the protesters and began confronting them, so the police built barricades keeping both sides separate but free to yell at each other the way they do at the India/Pakistan border every day. Again, you have unemployed brats confronting blue-collar workers in a town that lost thousands of jobs and we are bending over backwards to make sure everyone stays safe. I’m totally for this kind of security, but how about some appreciation? This was white privilege at its finest.
I began to interview more protesters. A woman told me she feared things were about to get violent while totally oblivious to how much work went into keeping her safe. A bearded millennial told me he’s there for “peace, love, and unity.” When I asked him if Trump supporters oppose love he said, “Yes.” He said Republicans should love ISIS because nobody kills more Muslims than them and Republicans hate Muslims. I tried to explain that his argument itself proves he’s wrong and he said, “No. You’re wrong!” When a woman approached with a sign that said “Feminist, Human,” among other things, I asked her why she hates Trump. She said because he thinks Mexicans are rapists, and I told her that 80% of the girls who cross the border illegally get raped. She said, “By who—Americans?” It was like she wanted there to be rednecks at the border raping illegals one by one on an assembly line. I replied, “Not Americans. Illegals. Coyotes.” She bleated, “COYOTES?! Goodbye!” I quickly realized she thought I meant the doglike wolf creature that is native to North America.
At this point I was exhausted. I dropped the mic and walked over to the car as Trump supporters chanted, “GET A JOB! GET A JOB! GET A JOB!” to the idiots in the pen. We had only spoken to a couple dozen people, but it really felt like we had a good taste of the two Americas. One group is annoying and bases all their opinions on their feelings. The other is much more fun and knows what they’re talking about.
The only problem America now faces is overcoming the overwhelming strength of the first group. The annoying vote is still strong.