On Friday, I made the trip out to Harrington, Delaware, to attend one of Donald Trump’s rallies as “one of the world’s most dishonest people,” a member of the media. Doors to the event opened at 12 p.m., but when I arrived at 11:30, the line to get in had already snaked around the venue and out into the parking lot. As I made my way past the line to the security checkpoint near the press entrance, I saw people from all walks of life standing in line, with the sun beating down on them.
The typical media coverage for these events simply doesn’t give a sense for the type of crowd that Trump is able to draw. From the finely tailored suits to the Dale Earnhardt t-shirts, and from white senior citizens to Hispanic teenagers, the crowd had all of the demographic bases covered — without even a hint of self-segregation or bigotry from any of the different groups of people.
When the first few people began to trickle into the event, I left the press area to ask them when they got in line. They took their spot in line at three in the morning — a full thirteen hours before Trump was slated to speak — and they weren’t alone, as several groups of people arrived around the same time in order to make sure they got a good spot in line.
In the hours between noon, when the doors opened, and 4 p.m., there was a steady stream of people flowing into the event. And while the playlist did get a bit monotonous — although the third “Tiny Dancer” didn’t seem quite as stale as the third “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” — the crowd stayed in good spirits. Trump was delayed getting to the event by about a half hour. In the meantime, “U-S-A”, and “We Want Trump” chants frequently broke out among the crowd. You could really feel the crowd’s excitement when the emcee of the event announced that “Mr. Trump’s helicopter is just coming into view.”
Throughout Trump’s speech, which was the typical fare for his rallies, the crowd remained civil and engaged with his message of a better America. Trump discussed the problems with the “dark money” banking system in America, the problems with Common Core, and the problems with Obamacare. He criticized Obama for not calling ISIS “radical Islamic terrorism” because “unless you’re going to talk about it, you’re not going to solve the damn problem, folks.” Trump also made a point to talk about reforming the VA and making sure that veterans are properly treated.
Midway through the event an older gentleman wearing a John Lennon T-shirt held up a sign that read “Shore don’t like bigots like Donald Trump.” He was joined by a woman with a similar sign that read “Gladly trade 1 Donald Trump for 10,000 refugees.” They were given their time to show their signs to the gathered press and were quietly removed from the event without incident.
All in all, the event was far from what one would expect based on the mainstream media’s portrayal of Trump rallies. The crowd was surprisingly diverse, and probably more diverse than the average GOP primary event crowd, and protesters were few and far between. It was a good-natured gathering of eight to ten thousand people who really believe that Trump will Make America Great Again and “greater than ever before,” which Trump emphasized heavily.
In order to really get a sense for the type of movement that is truly uniting behind Donald Trump, I encourage attendance at a rally. It was a uniquely American experience.
Joshua Pinho is a Digital Communications Associate for the American Principles Project. Follow him on Twitter @Josh_Pinho.