Time For Some Campaigning
Imagine this scenario, you go into the office on a Saturday. On the way to your normal parking spot, you are rerouted by a police officer informing you that the road right in front of your normal parking is closed for an upcoming Trump presidential rally. What would you do? Well if your me, you grab your camera and go (sadly, “professional interchangeable lens cameras” were not allowed inside, so you only get to see outside shots). Yes on my way into work, I stopped at a Trump presidential rally, now honestly how many of you can say that!
Let me go ahead and just make a major admission, I’m not exactly on Team Trump, nor am I really a hater, so for the remainder of this post I will just be an observer. If you are like me and the bulk of a lot of my friends (both Republican and Democrat), then you are shocked and amazed and even in disbelief of Trump’s success to date. As a side note, this election cycle has seemed to be divided along the lines of elite vs. non-elite or grass roots vs. establishment. This is quite different from a traditional liberal vs. conservative showdown; hence, I think some voters are legitimately trying to decide on Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump, weird right? This has led to a personal revelation; I am apparently an elite, establishment guy. I don’t really feel “elite” or in the “establishment” but then again I am a college professor and consultant and have been appointed to a board by the Governor of Florida; so I’ll own the label. Still, I’m from the land of the “little people” so I say we all should fight such labels.
Is this Trump phenomenon real? YES! So how did happen? I think my observations today might help explain. If you are a major Trump supporter, then I am not telling you anything you do not already know. If you are not, then allow my experience today to help you understand it.
First, the scale of the thing. The main photo is of the CFE Arena on the main campus of the University of Central Florida where the event was hosted. Speaking to a local police officer working the event, today’s max capacity was 10,600 and that was reached and the doors shut about 15 minutes prior to the scheduled start time. I made it inside just in time, and yes it was super mega packed. I have been in that building for concerts, basketball games, and graduations, I have never seen it that full. Trump said there were thousands outside who could not get in. In fairness, I think many of those were protesters (which were very funny in their own right), but just in case one could not make it inside, they had loud speakers that projected Trump’s signature voice so loudly it could be heard clear into the center of campus (I left early, but got to hear the end of the speech as I walked to my car).
Second, Trump supporters look like fairly normal people. If you think Trumpers are all crazy racists and nutjobs, you would be wrong. They look like a normal cross slice of Middle America; and much to some haters’ dismay, I noticed several African Americans, Latinos, Asians, etc. I felt the common bond was patriotism, the loudest chants were “USA USA USA!!”. Jeers at immigrants (which did happen) did not get anywhere near the same level of excitement. I also saw a lot of people who were present but not part of the rally (I was one of those). Whether brought unwillingly by family or friends, or just like me, curious about all the fuss; Trump has some level of sensation that causes a lot of people to stop and look. I’m not convinced that all of those who attended will actually vote for him.
Third, Trump was well Trump. I do not have anything more to add here. The way he is portrayed in the press is pretty accurate in my opinion. He definitely is going off the cuff a lot and responding to the crowd and reacting, that is no question part of his skill. Politics is show and Trump is a master showman; that in a nutshell why he has been so successful.
Finally, is Trump going to win the GOP nomination and then the White House? Well, I think it is fairly likely (this was my opinion before today, and the rally did not make me reassess that view). I will make this absolute prediction, the 2016 winner of the election will hold a rally at the CFE Arena at UCF! Why? Because Florida is a must win swing state and Orlando is the swingyest part of the state. Everyone, Obama, Clinton (Bill and Hill), McCain, Romney, and others have held events there (at least according to my memory) in past years. It’s a great venue and a natural place to host a crowd in Central Florida, thus I predict both nominees will visit before November. This makes UCF an exciting place to work!
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