I went to the Trump Circus

What a strange place with strange people.

In the summer of 2015, I watched Donald Trump announce his candidacy for president. I laughed at the man while sipping on my latte in some hole-in-the-wall hipster coffee shop in Colorado Springs. 

...

Today, I am witnessing history. I am one of 10,000 in Fountain Hills awaiting the arrival of GOP front-runner Donald Trump.

I drove to the town with my friend and fellow State Press reporter Ryan Clarke. Ryan and I had both been anticipating the rally, or rather the spectacle we were about to witness.

Fountain Hills is where Sheriff Joe Arpaio lives. The Maricopa County Sheriff endorsed Trump months earlier. The town, according to census data, is mostly white and middle to upper-middle class — Trump's ideal crowd.

As we turn off of Shea Boulevard, we are greeted by a forest of protesters standing on the median and sidewalks. They had signs, some had masks and others were yelling anti-Trump chants.

"Dump Trump," one sign read. "Make America White Again," read another.

I drove past the gallery of angry faces. Hate and frustration were painted on their faces. I could feel the tension building and locked the car doors.

I tried to put myself in the shoes of a Trump supporter. Seeing your candidate of choice, in one's own point of view, attacked unfairly could be frustrating, and it could make you angry.

The protesters have the right intentions, I'm sure. I'm sure all they want is for their message to be heard; they feel as though they are spreading the "Good Word."

A good deed and an expression of their First Amendment to them, annoying to others. It's all about point of view.

...

I arrive at Fountain Hills with Ryan. He goes through security and finds a spot 30 feet from Trump. I'm told the line to see Trump up close is nearly two miles long and stretches onto the sidewalks outside the park.

I'm rejected at the media table and decide to stand in the heat with the crowd. What an interesting crowd.

I walk around and people-watch while finding a decent spot for pictures. I walk past a mother guiding around her 4-year-old daughter holding a Trump poster.

Written with adult handwriting the sign reads, "I'm 4 years old and I want Mr. Trump as my president! Thank you Mr. Trump!"

Photo by Andrew Nicla | The State Press

I'm shocked. Who brings their toddler to these type of events? I see more.

There's a man standing in front of me. He's wearing an American flag bandanna and shades, hoisting a makeshift flag pole with the American flag and a black flag with a blue stripe on it.

I ask what the black and blue flag is for. He tells me the flag is a symbol used to show support for law enforcement. I forget about the man for a while.

...

Photo by Andrew Nicla | The State Press

"Look at those f---ing protesters," the color guard says.

"Yeah, they're being so loud. At least they're not being violent," a woman to my left chimes in.

The flagman turns to the woman, smirks and says, "Oh, don't worry, they won't. We have Patriots all around the crowd." The man winks and points to his leg holster, which is holding a firearm.

This is why I don't like guns in public. It gives people this "Patriot" power over others. I don't like it one bit.

"Do you really need that?" I ask. 

"No. But it does send a message," he responds.

...

So, Trump is late. Really late. News of protesters shutting down Shea Boulevard, a major roadway that connects Fountain Hills to Arizona's major highways, makes its way through the mob.

"That is so stupid," one supporter says. "They're just blocking traffic for everyone, not just us." Us.

I agree with the supporter. Even though I am an advocate for free speech, I do think chaining yourself to a vehicle and endangering yourself and causing a scene is not productive to your cause. You look a fool.

The sun is beating down on me. I'm turning almost as orange as the man we're all here to see. I relax a little and listen to the music playing over the PA system.

Whoever runs Trump's PA system has a great taste in music. Waiting for Trump to arrive and listening to the PA system is like hanging out at a really lame rock cover band concert with a crowd of 10,000.

This is either the strangest golf crowd or the largest senior citizen gathering ever. People are getting very bored. Two women behind me are talking about Hillary Clinton.

"She's anti-cops and supports Black Lives Matter," the woman exclaims. "She is bad news."

"Oh totally," the other woman nods. "She is Satan with a woman's face. She'll do anything. She panders to people."

One of the women asks, "What the hell are wrong with these people? Do they not have any critical thinking skills?" 

...


Photos by Andrew Nicla | The State Press

This rally is also an opportunity to make a quick buck. For $20, I could buy a Trump hat, a Trump button and a T-shirt of Trump's face on Muhammad Ali's body. My favorite is a white shirt printed with red and blue letters that reads, "DONALD TRUMP, FINALLY SOMEONE WITH BALLS." 

This stuff isn't just sitting on the shelf, it's actually being bought by real people. The merchandise being sold is very telling of Trump supporters. Only an immature man-child who wants someone to flip out at his ridiculous shirt would wear this.

...

After nearly 30 minutes of waiting, Trump is here. His 10,000 loyal followers roar.

Before Trump speaks, Gov. Jan Brewer told everyone how excited she is to support Trump and his effort to "build that... fence!" The crowd jeers.

"IT'S A F---ING WALL," the Patriot yells while waving his American flag with great pride.

After Brewer spoke, she introduced the "toughest sheriff in America," Joe Arpaio, to the stage. Say what you want about Arpaio, but the guy is genuinely hilarious.

"Don't tell anyone, for security reasons," he whispers to the crowd over the microphone, "but you can see my house from here. My wife can see me from the porch." He chuckles and looks at the backdrop of houses and mountains in the distance, behind the fountain and the park's green grass.

Trump is introduced, walks up to the podium to the theme song of "Space Jam," because this could only happen in a reality that's a little bit loony. He's waving with both hands and wearing his trademarked red hat. It is a little windy out, we wouldn't want that albino raccoon hide on his head to fly off his scalp.

If you've heard Trump speak once, like any politician, you've heard everything they have to say. I'm more fascinated with what the crowd is going to say.

Trump outlines his policies, his "real change": immigration, ending Common Core, repealing and replacing Obamacare, relieving an exhausted military, etc. These people just eat it up like this is the first time they're hearing the man speak.


Photos by Andrew Nicla | The State Press

He is a powerful speaker. The herd is putty in Trump's tiny hands. While speaking in detail about his anti-Mexican wall, the crowd blitzes forth with exclamations.

"Hang 'dem illegals!" one protester suggests.

"Send those wetbacks back to Mexico!" another roars.

I look around in shock, seeing if anyone else is as appalled as me. People are excited, smiling and nodding showing their agreement. Where am I right now? Is this actually happening?

I try to put myself in the position of the Trump supporters and try to understand.

I can understand why they are so angry if I were like them, who occasionally followed the news and watched what I could and I was frustrated with illegal immigrants. Or maybe if I were out of a job because mine was out-sourced to China or whatever else I'm angry about, Trump would probably be the best person to match my anger and my point of view.

If I were like them, I would probably like Trump a lot because of his confidence and charisma. He speaks his mind, presents himself as an outsider, something new, and is a hell of a salesman. What would sell me is that he does all this while not being politically correct, something a lot of his supporters brag about when talking about their hopeful president.

...

I'm fading in and out between Trump's rant and the reactions of his supporters.

"...and let me tell you folks, nobody is going to mess with us anymore," Trump dictates.

"You tell 'em Donald! WOO!" one supporter cheers.

Chants of "USA" and "Trump" fill the park. People respond well to confidence. People are pumping their fists into the air, whooping and yelling. This is a rock concert.

I notice Trump uses words less than five syllables when he speaks. He likes to keep his speech simple and easy to understand. Some of his favorite words are: win, smart, tough, strong, incredible and his supporters respond to it.

They are all right on cue. When Trump cracks a joke about Ted Cruz, the left or the establishment, people die of laughter.

It is clear to me that Trump's "silent majority" is no longer silent. They have found their candidate, and they will do anything to get him elected.

...

Photo by Andrew Nicla | The State Press

Trump says goodbye to the crowd and dismisses them. A group of protesters and Trump supporters gather up at the bottom of the hill that overlooked the stage.

"You should be ashamed of yourself," one Trump supporter yells while giving the middle finger to a protester.

"Look at who you're supporting, dumba--," the young woman shouts back, a vein in her forehead pulses with anger.

I don't like this. This is such a waste of everyone's time, of course, except for those who go to these rallies to get off on yelling at someone. The group exchanges curses and half-baked political opinions before eventually dispersing.

I'm amazed by the emotion that is brought out in these people. So much hate, yelling and anger. These people are passionate.

I walk back to the car with Ryan and we talk about everything we saw. Ryan had a similar experience as me. He shows me the photos and videos he took of Trump's speech.  We exchange stories and observations over a burger and soda.


Photos by Ryan Clarke | The State Press

...

I'm finally back home, and I want to write my immediate reaction to this rally. What an event. Wow. I have to admit it, I was wrong.

Trump supporters are not bullies. They are enablers. They are the people who are too weak and scared to say what Trump says and instead stand behind the man and cheer.

But let me be fair here. Nobody should get this attached to a candidate. That's weird. To give you a glimpse of the craziness on the left, one of my Facebook friends posted a status of her freaking out that she got to touch Bernie Sanders. She described it as if it was being touched by a prophet.

I'm glad Trump is running. His campaign has confirmed the American people's suspicions that elections and the candidates are really just one big reality show where it's fun to root for the villain. 

If the United States wants to vote for who they want to see on television for the next four years and who will be the most entertaining public figure, Donald Trump is their candidate.


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