On the Campaign Trail in America - Nathan Hoturoa Gray
On the Campaign Trail in Americaby Nathan Hoturoa Gray
"When History knocked on your door, did you answer?"
- Naomi Klein
Donald Trump is on a mission from God. Well, so says Pastor Mark Burns the opening act in a Trump Rally I am covering in Warren, Michigan. The robust black pastor continues in his booming voice to a hyped up crowd; "Aren't you glad Donald Trump loves Jesus Christ!"
The last minute rally was organised on Friday to give Mr. Trump a crack at Michigan where he needs to turn at least one Blue (Democrat) state Red (Republican) if he is going to secure enough electoral votes for Presidential victory. (States like Pennsylvania, Colorado, Virginia and New Hampshire that Mr. Trump had hoped to dislodge from the Democrats has delivered him a wall of opposition). He must also win the current swing states of Florida, Ohio, Nevada, Minnesota, Arizona, North Carolina and Iowa on top of this to reach the 270 electoral votes needed.
Apparently 'Saint Donald' as the Pastor refers to him in all his financial omnipotence doesn't have to stick to the schedules of us mere mortals. At 5pm, he's already two hours late, and most of us have been waiting since 10am to see him. This is making it a long, hard day for his supporters, particularly an elderly couple, one of whom is leaning against a walking frame, and a young mother holding onto her baby without being able to walk around in the dense crowd.
As a writer it is only fair that I attend both Hillary's and Trump's campaign rallies so as to provide some journalistic balance and gauge the diverse psyches of these deeply polarized voting communities in America. Yet standing for 7 hours among a sea of God-loving Republicans honestly makes me feel like my IQ has been halved. It's literally like a scene out of Idiocracy - the film which portrays the confounding lack of intelligence unfolding in our species with its drive for the dollar rather than taking the time to simply read a newspaper article.
As the first speaking acts come to an end and various musical tracks of Back Street Boys and Mick Jagger's 'You Can't Always Get What you Want' loops round its sixth or seventh time, the number of outlandish statements I'm hearing are starting to tally up...
Coach Bobby Knight, a former Indiana University basketball coach with over 900 career wins who has always backed Donald Trump takes the podium. "I knew all you women out here today were as smart as I thought you were," he splutters to my utter disbelief. "Aren't you glad Donald Trump isn't politically correct?" The ostensibly nice, hospitable supporters I've spent half the day cramped alongside - (the powerless that Mr. Trump promises to give power to) - roar into life.
Are these people for real? Are they actually listening? Seriously, I couldn't even make this stuff up - it's just so baffling. To put Mr. Knight's freudian slip into context, most Americans constantly harp back to images of 1988 when he stated in a television interview 'I think that if rape is inevitable, relax and enjoy it.'
Unfazed, Coach Knight continues on relentlessly, as if such behaviour is subconsciously imprinted; "Donald Trump is truly the blue-collar billionaire." Despite still not releasing his tax returns, (the first ever Presidential candidate not to do this and a seemingly clear vindication that he has never paid his Federal Taxes and has absolutely no intention of doing so), the crowd continues to cherish his comments. I look to my right and notice that the old couple has had to swap seats on the walker as the old husband is near exhaustion. The young mum also sweats feverishly. This is going to be a long day.
When Mr. Trump does eventually turn up, the crowd is visibly fatigued and can't quite give the raucous reception Hillary Clinton received upon arrival at a rally I attended three weeks earlier (sticking rigidly to her speech schedule). "Clinton now has to answer to 650,000 new email allegations from the FBI and is not fit to be President!", Mr. Trump shouts as the crowd again screeches at full ferocity. His speech certainly can't be described as entertaining or inspirational - more so a scathing indictment of his opponent which, given this Presidential campaign has gone on now for over 600 days, seems to have politically deranged the American public. Even Sheryl Crow has set up a Change.org petition to lessen the days allowed to campaign to something more along the lines of the UK (139 days) or even Canada (78 days) - receiving thousands of signatures.
Although his supporters are certainly die hard - it almost looks as if Mr. Trump is running out of enthusiasm - unable to set the room on fire with awe-inspiring rhetoric. Yet with the queue that morning stretching at least a mile outside the campus grounds, many not making it into the 5000 packed out sports hall at Macomb Community College, there is a sense of staunch conviction with Trump supporters that makes you think, with God on their side, that they can pull off a Brexit-like election miracle.
Mr. Trump could win despite the fact he has publicly condemned and outraged Blacks, Hispanics, the disabled and women due to the sheer ambivalence I have witnessed over the past two months by the Democrat support base - in particular the Millennials which could really transform this race if they just cared in great numbers.
It's like they can't seem to get it together - distracted by third party electoral strategies, vilification of Hillary Clinton, campaign fatigue, the struggles of work / study, the self engrossed drivel of Snapchat or just plain Play-Station that this left-wing voting base simply hasn't been mobilized to stop the country from heading into such clear political turmoil. It seems so obvious to us all from the perspective of the rest of the planet watching nervously on that American Hegemony is on the cusp of collapsing.
So with a week to go, and one last chance to actually shape the future of your and your kids lives, (not to mention our environment), there are 4 things the New York Times suggests you can do to make history swing along a desired course.
1) Make a detailed plan for when and where you will vote, and stick to it.
2) Ask your friends and relatives about their own voting plans. High turnout hurts Trump.
3) Consider taking the admittedly awkward step of trying to persuade any undecided voters you know to vote for the only person who can defeat Trump, or at least not to vote for him.
4) Think about volunteering to get out the vote or most importantly to protect voting rights. It will be vital to have observers on the ground at all polling stations to make sure the voting process can be completed unimpeded as is our right under the values of democracy.
To end with the enduring words of President Barack Obama via social media to Millennials, "If I can figure out how to Snap-Chat, you can figure out how to vote on November 8th."
Good luck America. The planet needs you.
Nathan Hoturoa Gray