Trump in San Diego – A Love Fest of Ignorance and Hate.By: Brett Redmayne-Titley
It’s 9:30 AM. The Trump rally doesn’t start until 11:30 and Trump are not scheduled for 2:00 PM, but already a line stretches beyond the far end of the San Diego Convention Center. It is a very long building that houses three separate huge halls end-to-end one of which will be used today. The crowd outside is already over 2,000. Some arrived as early as 4:30 AM. They all have tickets already for the sold-out show but are here early to get a good seat. Scalpers were advertising as much as $100.00 for the free tickets.
Walking west in a cold, for San Diego, May-gray morning towards the Convention Center and cutting through the well-marked “Free Speech Zone,” the tone for the day was set, for also coming into view were cops. Hundreds of cops. There would be more.
The threat posed by any of the three US presidential offerings is easily shown in a lengthy set of reasons not to vote for any of them. When factually considered, this election showcases the poor state of American elections in that, voters have all excused-away this seasons poor tri-polar political choices. Voters willfully ignore the foibles of their choice. The media masks the reality of the true “person” running for office, focusing only on the image- the package- is presented. Worse, voters willfully ignore revealing facts about their choice, in favor only of their opinion. This election nowhere is this anti-democratic malady more self-evident than at a Donald Trump US Presidential campaign rally.
The purpose of arriving early was to interview many Trump supporters. With a line stretching six or seven hundred yards north and the crowd patiently waiting for the doors to open there was more than ample opportunity. Walking in the face of the crowd for a bit I saw couples, single men and women, and families. There were many women. More than half the crowd was adorned in either a Trump baseball hat or T-shirt, some recently purchased from the many vendors across the street.
The assemblage was reminiscent of the former “Tea Party” with many waving American flags along with their pro-Trump banners and posters. One daring pair of vendors were hawking large US flags with Trumps face in place of the stars and “Make America Great Again” emblazoned in blue across the bars. Twenty bucks a pop. These guys seemed like a good start so after inquiring about a possible purchase they were asked how they thought Trump would accomplish his slogan.
” He’s a very successful businessman. He’ll know what to do.” Reminded that Trump had declared bankruptcy several times, his associate responded,” Well, that’s just what happens with a successful business. They make mistakes, then they grow. Trump’s not afraid to make mistakes.”
Keeping this one short, in conclusion, I jokingly asked if they were aware that their original merchandising idea was actually desecration of the American flag? “Yeah, Yeah.” he laughed.”We’ve heard that. But, hey… that’s capitalism!”
Walking away it seemed that this off-handed remark from this vendor might be the perfect metaphor for Trump’s campaign.
Deciding on further reconnaissance it was time to next take a look at the vending across the street. Interestingly no American flags were being sacrificed here, where three vendors had many more options available. Hats, T-shirts of all kinds, posters, banners, buttons, lighters, lapel pins and every imaginable campaign trinket was available. Business was steady. These vendors had all been on the road following the Trump Campaign. One lovely lass, all smiles, talked about the long nights on the road trying to get to the next stop on time. Noticing that baseball hats, particularly red, were very popular. She happily confirmed this to be her number one seller.
Why red? “Well, she replied, “We’re not sure, but… the rumor is that… you’ve seen this right? Trump wears either a red or a white one. Well, they say he wears a white one when he’s happy…and a red one when he’s not. So…” and she waved her hand towards the crowd where red was indeed the predominant color choice.
It’s now 10:15 AM and walking back towards the line, the San Diego PD was beginning to block the road. The road had actually been closed for hours. These barricades are for the people.
Walking the line some people had come to showcase themselves, their interest group or opinion. Colorfully attired so as to stand-out from the crowd, these seemed to be begging for attention. A gentleman playing the accordion while dressed in what seemed to be Palestinian colors and totting an American flag on a stick seemed an obvious choice. Turned out that he was from France and had immigrated many years ago. Interestingly, he had no problems at all with Trump’s proposed immigration policy nor a complete ban on Muslims. He did not see this as a double standard at all because of he, “came to America for an education.”
A bit further down the line, two young men waved banners while calling out to the crowd. One’s sign said, “Arab-Christians for Trump.” The other, dressed deliberately in garishly-colored, outlandish clothing complete with ringed Bobbi-socks and strange sunglasses was waving in very animated fashion his sign, “Gays For Trump,” while yelling over and over again the exact same message. This, of course, begged the question why? These two gentlemen favored Trump because he was a successful multi-billionaire and had created over 20,000 jobs. When challenged that Trump had not proved either point and was deliberately not releasing his tax returns, both used the claim that he was being audited and could not release them. When informed that the IRS had publicly-in writing- refuted this they were surprised. Asked where they got the pro-jobs data, they replied that their knowledge of Trump had come from reading his web-site. Challenged on the true objectivity of their investigation, they replied that,” Well, we like Trump. So, it’s not a problem.” Maybe. But ignorance should be, much less the facts.
Would Trump have risen this far without such ignorance? In this election, this may be the most advanced of symptoms.
Considering the many unapologetic slights that Trump has taken at women it was surprising to see the percentage of attendance, possible 40%. Asked about their opinions of Trump, remarks or answers ranged from, “Oh, he didn’t mean it,” “Women are being too touchy,” and “What’s the big deal,” to the more irrational, ” Women just don’t understand Trump” and “He’s really are very nice man.”
Of real surprise was seeing Hispanic Americans there. Again, of those interviewed about Trump’s proposed, “The Wall,” or his very draconian policies towards immigrants already on US soil, none had any problem with this either. Nor did they feel any sense of hypocrisy in voting for Trump. One rather vehement supporter justified her hypocrisy by stating, “My mom came as an illegal and has worked here for twenty-years. I was born here and I’m American.” Reminded that under Trump’s plan her “mom” could be dragged-off in front of her eyes never to return because of the Wall, she replied, ” Oh, Trump would never do that.” Why not then, Clinton or Sanders? ” ‘Cause Trump’s gonna make America great again.”
It’s just before 11:00 AM. The doors are finally open and still, a steady stream of supporters is filling in the line in the back. As they enter each wave their free ticket before the security at the main door.10,000 tickets were issued. Staff indicated that, since many had shown up without tickets, approx. 1,000 more were later allowed in.
At the media check-in, everyone was frisked. Fortunately, no one was asked to remove their belt and shoes and small bottles of liquid were allowed. One’s nether regions thankfully remained private. Trump now has Secret Service protection and this, despite the hundreds of cops outside, was their show. Interestingly, of the many branches of local police and National Guard in attendance, it was only the Secret Service that was completely professional throughout the day. Their brethren would later this day show a far different persona.
Walking into the cavernous hall that would easily house a football field the crowd across the grey polished concrete floor was already pressing up towards the podium. At this point, 12:15 PM, about half the floor was covered with trump fans. Thus the show began.
The organ solo from Elton John’s, “Funeral for a Friend,” droned as an intro to the day’s MC, Mark Larson of local radio station KUSI. Setting the tone for the day he also droned about more military, funding for veterans and immigration. Doing a masterful job, the crowd began to undulate, signs, banners, and fists in the air. Then it was time for the prayer.
Following this invocation, came Dan Smith the only Benghazi survivor- we are told-who provides a nice scathing attack on Hillary Clinton. The word, “Clinton” makes any Trump supporters fangs grow. This was seen throughout the afternoon, leaving many red-faced and winded from their rabid efforts in response. The crowd loved it and Smith exited the stage to the crowd chanting, “USA, USA, USA.”
The tempo increased incrementally as two of San Diego’s, and the Republican party’s, favorite political grand standers were introduced. First Duncan Hunter, who never saw a military appropriations request he didn’t like, ranted about the need to fix America via a strong military and a few choice Clinton references for effect. Next up, a real favorite of the mean side of politics; Darrell Issa. The crowd was wild for him and he used the initial fervor to whip the crowd up with much the same talking points as the previous agitator.
The crowd was at this point was packed shoulder to shoulder across the full expanse of the hall and pushed into every corner. The energy was indeed electric, but there was a deep under-tone in the calls of support that growled angrily. The eyes of many a supporter remained narrowed, their mouths unsmiling. Waving their signs and flags furiously, some fist -pumped the air threateningly, as Issa left the stage the roar of approval had more than a hint of meanness. Then…
Almost beyond belief, and in retrospect this should have been anticipated, sprang onto stage-left the oracle of narrow-minded, ignorant, self-serving hate speech; Sarah Palin. Better, she had brought with her, husband Todd. That about did in the crowd who universally keeled over with joy. For twenty minutes she mewed, encouraging the killing of the Delta Smelt, lambasting the media for attacking Trump and demanding a stronger foreign policy via the military. In between slamming the Clintons and promoting increased American military aggression, she called Trump several times, “The golden wrecking ball,” and assuring everyone that “Trump has value.” Screeching to a close she blustered to a close with one last hurrah for more global American military intervention. “Mess with America…” she crowed, ” and we’ll put a boot up your ass! It’s the American way!”
The crowd went crazy, the noise was bedlam and the level of testosterone was extreme. As one colleague observed, “when this crowd hits the streets it not gonna be good.” He was right.
Trump kept everyone waiting until after the 2 PM start. In the meantime, the crowd undulated, particularly near the restrooms. The two lines at the “official” Trump merchandising area was at least a hundred-and-fifty deep at all times. In the choice of red, white or camo hats, once again red was winning. There were no sombreros.
Trump hit the stage at 2:20 PM. He began to use San Diego’s proximity to Mexico to segway into his attack on illegal immigrants and the need to, “build a military bigger, stronger and better military than ever before. Believe me.” This phrase, “believe me,” Trump used so frequently it was noticeable.
The other phrase soon to be part of common Trump parlance is “We’re gonna build that wall! Yes, we are!” This one Trump repeated with tremendous effect on the crowd. Thus began an hour-and- five-minute rant that preyed on the crowd repetitively with the topics of immigration, military build-up, harsh negotiations with foreign nations, the Clintons, making America great again and The Wall. There were no specifics, no facts presented, merely loose assertions followed by, “believe me!” He told the audience of his ascendance to success from, “just a million dollar loan,” and used this as the sole basis to believe all the things he said.
Trump spoke in repeated generalities. No political candidate has likely gotten so much from so little. Trump worked for the crowd merely for reaction again and again, but that was easy to do. He rambled, switching to Hillary when ever stuck for a kicker. However, very conspicuously Trump did broach one original topic that should be of importance to the public, but not necessarily in the way Trump intended.
Apparently, so railed Trump, he, Donald J. Trump, is being sued for his for-profit Trump University. Trump was outraged at this affront to his integrity, and for the next fifteen minutes plus devoted his attack to his demand for vindication. Today, this was possibly the most revealing topic for Trump. In this strange rambling defense of this law suit brought against him by former students of his Trump University, he repeated that he was being, “railroaded by the legal system” On-and-on he went, berating the judge while vilifying with defamatory remarks the individual students who are now plaintiff’s against him and his alleged fraud. This rant, of course, had nothing at all to do with his qualifications for president, but certainly revealed his ever-apparent character flaw- that of being of such shallow character that he must rail against anyone who dares challenge him in the least. For the Donald cannot and will not be wrong.”I’ve been treated unfairly,” he whined. Working himself almost into a lather, Trump went after his legal adversaries for so long that some people in the crowd began to jostle for the exits.”I mean…” said Trump screwing-up his face.”Their only complaints were more comfortable chairs and a lack of nice sandwiches. Sandwiches?!”
How any of his legal troubles were going to benefit the voters Trump did not say, but he did have some kind words and promises for San Diego’s Latino residents.” I think the Mexicans are going to love me. They’re going to love me when they get all those new jobs!” Of course, there were far too many questions to ask of this outlandish statement and not one would be asked, so this promise was not reflected in the “Build the wall! Build the Wall! Build the Wall!” chant from the entire crowd moments before that echoed against the roof like thunder following Trump’s call to do just that.
Sensing he was wearing out the crowd with his tale of woe, Trump tossed in a new hammer. “As most of you know, this past week I was the only candidate to be endorsed by the NRA.” Quickly correcting himself he continued, “the only one to be endorsed this early.” Well, the crowd loved that, even here in liberal Southern California.
Trump saved the special venom for his most hated adversary. Forty-five minutes in, it was already obvious that here was a man who uses few facts, blusters when challenged on the few that he uses. He has spent more than a year building a presidential campaign that is really just a hopeful mirage. Hence, Donald J. Trump has good reason to hate the press. And hate the press he does. On three separate occasions, he found a way to weave his hatred of the press into his speech encouraging the crowd each time to vilify the press as much as he does. Three times he pointed to the Media Area and beseeched his minions to turn and confront the press in person, repeatedly calling all media, “slime.” Oh, and turn they did. Three different times more than 20,000 eyes glared at the gathering of photographers and journalists, while Trump continued to goad them into using further shouted derision. Some laughed while dutifully pointing at us. Some looked intently with narrowed eyes that did not smile.
Getting ready for his closing remarks, Trump waved his hands about the room calling the days gathering a “love fest.” He said it again and again while bringing the crowd to a crescendo over promises of victory over Hillary in November. He summed up his goals as; repealing Obama care, closing the borders and building the Wall, expanding trade, protecting the 2nd Amendment, expanding the US military and “knocking out” federal Common Core educational requirements. “When I’m president we’re going to start winning”, he assured the crowd.” We’re going to win oversea. We’re going to win with jobs. We’re gonna win big,” he bellowed, now over come with confidence from the irrational approval of the rabid crowd. Bringing it down for effect, Trump paused and stated,” You people are going to say… Mr. President… we’re winning too much!”
With that, he was off, stage left and the crowd headed right for the exits. Outside, trouble was brewing. That’s what the Trump fans wanted. That’s what the police wanted. The next two hours would be just as telling.
Leaving the press exit the first thing in sight was cops. Lots of cops. Lots and lots of cops in full riot gear of many variations and dark colors. Indeed, over five hundred multi-uniformed cops from San Diego City, San Diego County, the California Highway Patrol and National Guard assembled in many different clusters far and wide. Heavily armed police spread out for a two-mile radius. In front of the Convention Center, all around them, tensions were rising.
Hatred needs to be fed. Trump supporters could have gone home, but many stayed salivating at a chance to vent their anger on all those in attendance in the Free Speech Zone. They gathered across the street, taunting and screaming racial remarks at the mostly Hispanic crowd on the other side. “Build the Wall!” was popular. The opposition crowd was indeed vocal in return, but all were content to stay in the required area and dance to an anti-Trump rap song blaring again and again with everyone yelling the chorus, “Fuck Donald Trump! Fuck Donald Trump!” It was after all the Free Speech Zone. No one was instigating any violence there.
On the other side of the street, the cops did little to stop the Trump rabble from inciting violence.When they began hurling water bottles and objects began raining down from atop the adjacent Hard Rock Hotel they did nothing. Soon it would become obvious why; the cops were there to put the Free Speech protesters in their place. And that they did. For while the Trump clan was inciting violence some two hundred cops were busy slowly ringing the perimeter of the Free Speech Zone. They were not protecting anyone.
No one in the Free Speech zone was allowed to leave; this reporter tried in vain at every line of cops.Despite the growing agitation already being caused by Trump supporters who had already crossed the street to start trouble, next the cops willfully let dozens more hate-filled Trump supporters cross the street and enter the fray. This only made matter much worse, which seemed the point. The result, violence.
Despite the provocation by the Trump supporters none were observed being arrested. This service seemed exclusive to the Free Speech Zone. Police report thirty-eight arrests.
The cops were not done. In the Free Speech Zone, more and more protesters had come to realize that there was no way out. While the Trump mob threw more bottles into the ever- concentrated protester the cops began to squeeze further, gathering some three hundred protesters towards the middle. Pushing shoving and lancing people with wooden clubs the cops arrested anyone who defended themselves and anyone who desperately tried an escape. The many rows of cops forced the kettled group across the railroad tracks and then south on Harbor Drive. The various lines of cops now came in behind each other creating a barricade of at least two hundred cops who now advanced on the remaining protesters. Across the tracks, the Trump supporters were left to their devices as their cops joined the many now pursuing the protesters south. On either side of the four-lane street cops stood, rifles in hand, lining the next two hundred yards south. Still, the cops kept coming with the crowd trying to hold ground and then moving along a hundred yards or so. This went on for almost a half-mile away from the event. Then the cops started shooting.
At the front of the first line of cops were several cops with automatic weapons that had stenciled on its bright orange stock “Non-Lethal.” Now they started shooting. Several protesters were hit and reported that each round contained some amount of pepper spray. This sent the crowd running down the road. Finally the cops stayed put leaving all protesters to walk another mile south, since at every possible left-hand-turn across the railroad tracks, cops still refused passage, leaving frustrated protesters, and many who just could not escape, to try again at the next intersection only again to be told “no.”
So ended, except for a two-mile walk back to the car, my first experience seeing the machine known as Donald Trump, up close. Getting in the car the thought of Trump calling today’s carnage a “love fest” came to mind. Love? No, there was no love here today. Except, as was sorely evident, love of self, love of ignorance, love of intolerance, and love of a very big lie: Donald Trump will “Make America Great Again.”