The Trump rally in Charleston, South Carolina, was a joyous celebration of American virtues and of the uniquely American leader we are blessed to have.
I avoid crowds, especially during the flu season, but when I had the chance to attend Trump’s rally in Charleston, South Carolina, just a short drive from my home, I had to go. I’m glad I did, too, for it was a delightful experience from start to finish.
In some ways, there’s not that much to write about given that videos of the rally are already online. You can watch Trump’s speech below and probably hear it better than I did. (Indeed, once I’m done writing tonight, I plan to listen to his speech again to get the bits I missed.)
Trump in real life is exactly as you see him on the screen — a larger-than-life, uniquely American character, a showman who is nevertheless a person of tremendous substance and accomplishment. He’s also a comedian with the perfect timing of any performer who ever appeared on a Borscht Belt (aka Catskills) stage.
Given how urban and, indeed, how Jewish, Trump’s humor is, you’d think it wouldn’t sell well in Charleston, South Carolina. However, if you thought that, you’d be wrong. The audience loved it every bit as American audiences in mid-20th century America ate up humor from Jack Benny, George Burns, Milton Berle, Sid Caesar, or Danny Kaye. Once you’re in on the joke — once you accept the showman’s style — you will always laugh.
Since you can see Trump’s speech for yourself, what in the world do I have to offer? I can talk about the energy and the ambiance.
We arrived at 4:00 on this Friday afternoon, just as the doors were opening. Some people had already gotten in line Thursday morning! They definitely got the good seats for their efforts, down on the floor of the North Charleston Convention Center’s Coliseum. Still, those of us who didn’t get there until 4:00 on the “day of” were still able to get seats in the nosebleed section. And unusually for a nosebleed section, because the Coliseum seats only 13,000 people, we still felt relatively close to the speaker’s podium. We were able to see Trump’s blue suit, white shirt, red tie, and blonde hair with perfect clarity.
Trump’s team made sure that the whole event was efficiently managed. When we hit the line, it was already moving and it flowed smoothly for the next 15 minutes or so, right up until we were at the security check. That was well-staffed so even though the security people went through every jacket and bag with incredible care, and ran everyone through a metal detector, we were out of that line within about 5 minutes. We were then shuttled through the Coliseum hallways until we got to an entrance where there were still seats available, headed up the stairs and boom! There we were, seated and waiting for the show to begin.
What was truly bizarre, in a wonderful way, was the women’s restroom — it was clean and there was no line! I don’t know what kind of black magic happened there, but I was grateful.
That’s the background stuff. What was delightful was the crowd. Sadly, it was a mostly white crowd, with only a small number of black, Asian, and Hispanic people present. I say sadly because they would have been so welcomed there. When Trump spoke about outreach to the black community, the whole crowd roared its approval. People there clearly believe, as I do, that blacks have been enslaved by the Democrat party for too long. It’s time for them to break free and come to a community that welcomes them as fellow Americans who can enjoy this land’s bounty, rather than as a victim class that can reliably be played for votes as needed.
While the crowd may have been mostly white, there was nothing else “mostly” about it. If I were stereotyping people by their looks, I saw the following: young families, military people, cops, blue-collar workers, white-collar workers, bikers, retirees, farmers, widows and widowers, scads of “women for Trump,” high school students, college students, millennials, polished urban people, and rough-hewn country people. What bound them together was a shared love of country and, because he is serving this country well, love of Trump.
I struck up conversations with several people and learned a few things about what makes them Trump supporters: All of the people to whom I spoke voted for Trump in 2016. Despite his bombast and boasting, they believed him then when he made his many promises, in part because he wasn’t a career politician but was, instead, a businessman with a broad and deep record of success.
Now, in 2020, they’re supporting him more fervently than ever because he kept those promises. And of course, they agree with his policies: A controlled border protects us from criminals, job-takers, and disease; socialism is bad; the Second Amendment is good; law enforcement is good; Trump’s economic policies are great; skin color shouldn’t matter; and Israel deserves America’s support. Even if they don’t agree with all of Trump’s policies, they agree with enough of them to want Trump back for four more years — and, given how Congress and the press treated him during three of his first four years, they jokingly agree that he really ought to get a do-over.
People at the rally wanted to have fun. They made instant friends and enthusiastically did both the wave and those call and response games people play across stadiums and coliseums. When Trump and others spoke (Tim Scott and Lindsay Graham were there, as well as people whose names I didn’t catch who warmed up the crowd early), it was like being at an old-time silent movie, with the audience booing and cheering as Trump’s speech paraded villains and heroes before them. Indeed, sometimes the audience participation was so loud it was hard to hear Trump, which is why I may go back and listen to his talk again just to hear the bits I missed.
This was a happy, friendly audience. They joined in with Trump when he castigated the media, but there was no heat, anger, or banked violence. It was a fun ritual not the warm-up act for an angry mob. These are people who have just watched America enjoy the best four years in their lifetimes, and they’re joyously looking to four more years just like it. They trust Trump to do his best with the coronavirus (a Black Swan event), and know with certainty that he’ll do his best with all of his other plans and promises.
Another interesting thing I noticed was how well-informed the audience was. Don Lemon and his MSNBC buddies may like to sneer at Trump voters, but these are people who are completely current about national and international policies. The moment Trump started on a topic, whether foreign or domestic, you could hear the people around you start filling in the blanks or turn to their companions to make a comment. They love talking about the Constitution and quite obviously know what it actually says, rather than what the emanations of penumbras imply.
Four years ago, people like Mark Steyn and Roger Simon, after attending Trump rallies said, “This man is going to win. He has the people at his back.” Although I haven’t been to a Bernie rally, it’s hard for me to imagine it as this joyous celebration. Instead, I see it as a miserable meeting of angry people. I’ll bet my money on joy every time.