Fear and loathing in Den­ver: Thoughts from a Trump rally

The Myan­mar Times sent in­trepid re­porter Nick Baker to ex­pe­ri­ence a Don­ald Trump cam­paign event in the swing state of Colorado. This is his story

The Myanmar Times - - The Pulse - NICK BAKER n.baker@mm­times.com

LOCK her up! Lock her up! Lock her up!”

They be­gan yelling the chant – el­derly cou­ples, par­ents with small chil­dren, groups of Mil­len­nial teens – even be­fore Don­ald Trump ap­peared at his Novem­ber 5 rally in Den­ver.

There are many war cries at Trump events but this sim­ple de­noue­ment against ri­val Hillary Clin­ton has be­come a favourite in the fi­nal days of the US elec­tion. The fer­vour and vol­ume of thou­sands of an­gry sup­port­ers re­flected Trump’s clos­ing ar­gu­ment to vot­ers in swing states – that Clin­ton is a crim­i­nal.

When Trump did ap­pear, the sub­ject of “Crooked Hillary’s” pri­vate email server was breached al­most im­me­di­ately: “[She is the] prime sus­pect in a far-reach­ing crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion … It will be im­pos­si­ble for her to gov­ern,” he said. “There will be a con­sti­tu­tional cri­sis.” “Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up!” the crowd obliged. There was no nu­ance of Clin­ton’s mis­deeds sur­round­ing her emails – which the FBI has called “care­less” not crim­i­nal – as the call-and-re­sponse be­came bor­der­line hys­ter­i­cal. “Trea­son. It’s trea­son!” a mid­dle-aged man shouted from the bleach­ers. “Let’s break some­thing,” said another. An out­landish car­i­ca­ture of Clin­ton be­came more ap­par­ent through­out the night. While Trump riffed on stage, it was hard not to no­tice the slo­gans on T-shirts and signs around the venue. “Hillary for prison” fea­tured sev­eral times. As did “Trump that bitch [sic]”. Oth­ers graph­i­cally (much too graphic to re­print in this news­pa­per) made lewd jokes about Clin­ton, draw­ing on imagery from the af­fair be­tween her hus­band Bill Clin­ton and Mon­ica Lewin­sky.

The sub­stance of Trump’s 50-minute speech had all the red meat top­ics from build­ing a wall on the Mex­ico bor­der to “end­ing” ISIS to the “dis­as­ters” of trade deals like NAFTA. “Politi­cians are stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid peo­ple,” Trump said. But other sub­jects were more per­plex­ing. Trump went on a long di­a­tribe against rap­per Jay Z, who is sup­port­ing Hillary, call­ing his mu­sic “filthy”.

Time was spent lament­ing the “en­ergy” of Chi­nese work­ers be­fore go­ing on to say how “peo­ple don’t go to France any more” be­cause of cer­tain mul­ti­cul­tural poli­cies. Sadly, Syr­ian refugees re­ceived one of the largest, long­est boos of the evening. The whole thing was at best con­fus­ing, at worst a tac­ti­cal blun­der. Colorado has be­come part of the Democrats’ “blue wall”. If its nine elec­toral votes go to Hillary – along with states like New Hamp­shire, Penn­syl­va­nia and Virginia – she wins.

This was ap­par­ent in 2012. At Barack Obama and Mitt Rom­ney ral­lies dur­ing the fi­nal stretch here, much of their con­tent was di­rected at pulling un­de­cided vot­ers. They drew grand nar­ra­tives about America’s fu­ture and Colorado’s place within it. But on Novem­ber 5, Trump ar­guably did lit­tle to at­tract any­one out­side the Trump world base. His fi­nal mes­sage to a swing state that may help de­liver the elec­tion to Clin­ton? “What do you have to lose?” Trump asked. “Re­ally, what to you have to lose?” It was hardly the Get­tys­burg Ad­dress. Af­ter the rally wrapped, chants con­tin­ued as the crowd streamed through the carpark and off into the night. “Lock her up! Lock her up! Lock her up!” Again and again and again. “This is depressing,” said one young woman who at­tended out of cu­rios­ity as she walked past a gi­ant model of Clin­ton in a mock cage.

Depressing in­deed.

Photo: Nick Baker.

A Hillary Clin­ton man­nequin which fea­tured at a Novem­ber 5 Don­ald Trump rally.

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