By Timothy Jarvis
As we head into election year, New Worcester Spy contributor Timothy Jarvis reflects on Donald Trump’s campaign stop in Worcester and what his popularity says about the state of right-wing politics.
On November 18th the one and only Donald J. Trump held a rally at Worcester’s DCU Center.
I sat up close to the action, and was ready to listen to Trump. Even though I’m no supporter of Trump, I was a bit excited to see him in person – at first. As more people flooded into the DCU Center there was energy building in the air. Everyone could feel the whirlwind of emotions as the audience eagerly awaited Mr. Trump’s arrival. Supporters and non-supports were everywhere to be found in this crowd, and given Trump’s divisive tendencies it felt like conflict was all but inevitable.
When Trump appeared on stage his welcome was electric. Supporters made homemade signs reading “build the wall,” and there was an excitement I’ve never seen for any presidential candidate – there’s no denying the loyalty of Trump’s supporters. As for the non-supporters, I recall seeing several Bernie Sanders t-shirts. They remained calm even though they probably didn’t take too kindly to their surroundings.
Trump opened his speech by discussing the polls. He spoke, even bragged, about his outstanding polling and how the media downplays that. Trump then went on to talk about his opposing presidential candidates and how “it’s all over” for them. Trump mentioned Carson, Bush, Rubio, Cruz and how none of them stand a chance against The Donald.
He talked down to his own party members more than any Democrat. But make no mistake, he had some choice words for Hillary Clinton as well, saying, “If she gets out of the email scandal, that’ll be her biggest accomplishment.” He briefly mentioned Bernie Sanders, saying, “He blamed the Paris attacks on global warming.”
It was shortly after this point when the energy in the venue began to feel angry. The supporters were looking to offend others, and the non-supporters were obviously bothered by Trump’s comments. There was a lot of tension building as everyone’s eyes were glued to Donald Trump.
After I picked up on all this, the unrest became more prevalent. Three young protesters, couldn’t have been much older than 20, made their way to the closed off section of the second level of seating. They proceeded to display three large cloth sheets with the words “migrant lives matter” on the sheets. As soon as the display was visible, the entire venue erupted in aggressive disapproval towards the message and the protestors; they quickly fled as they were jeered out of the DCU Center. They weren’t acting belligerent, nor were they ejected from the venue. They left because of the overwhelming reaction from Trump’s supporters.
As Trump continued to speak, he went on about how the media illustrates him as something he’s not. He then prompted the audience to turn around a “boo” at the media that was present. The whole crowd did just that.
After this there was a second protest. A man just two or three rows ahead of myself stood up on his chair and started yelling as loud as he could, “Trump is a racist! Trump is a racist!” repeatedly. It turned violent when someone tried to gently pull the protester down from his chair, but he resisted. Then the man sitting behind him tried to forcefully pull him down, but the protester punched that man. Everyone within the vicinity joined in and encircled the protestor and all parties were engaging in physical violence.
As the skirmish was broken up by Worcester Police, I kept my distance. And Trump continued speaking about how his campaign is self-funded. “I’m not taking super PAC money,” he said. “my campaign is the only one that’s self-funded.”
As the rally wound down Trump spoke about immigration and building a wall on the U.S./Mexico border. “It’s going to be a big wall, it’s going to be a great wall, and it’s going to be paid for by Mexico,” he said. Trump rallied the attendees behind the issue of illegal immigration.
I’d like to mention that most times Trump said something about the immigrants, I could hear people behind me whispering “Kill them,” which was concerning to hear.
After Trump’s wall rhetoric, a third protester took action. A man walked down the left side aisle yelling “Trump is racist,” again and again. He was quickly stopped by Worcester Police and escorted from the DCU Center. Trump then poked fun at the man’s physical appearance saying, “I like how when I mentioned food stamps he went crazy, but he’s clearly overweight.”
As the audience laughed this man into humiliation, Trump concluded his speech with his usual “we’re going to make America great again.”
Even as a right-winger I found many things wrong with the rally. I was put on edge nearly the entire rally, as the energy in the venue was just angry. It just wasn’t a pleasant atmosphere for anyone. I welcomed Trump to the stage out of respect for him coming to Worcester, and his non-supporters who were in attendance I sympathized with. Even though they were mostly left-wingers I respected them wanting to listen to Trump. I also respected the undying loyalty of Trump’s supporters.
But Trump doesn’t resonate with me as a right-winger because his views aren’t consistent with the ideology.
As for my gripes, Trump’s uses his status in the polls as a selling point for himself. This isn’t an interesting factor to people – no one wants to hear someone rattle off numbers about themselves.
Also at the rally, Trump really misrepresented what Bernie Sanders said about the Paris attacks. “He blamed the Paris attacks on global warming,” Trump incorrectly said about Sanders.
Trump was referring to a comment made by Bernie Sanders in the first Democratic debate. The moderator asked Sanders, “What is America’s greatest foreign threat?” to which Sanders answered “global warming.” Trump linked the Paris attacks with Sanders’ comments, implying that Sanders must believe the attacks were orchestrated by global warming, and not ISIS. It’s a bit of a stretch. I’m not a Sanders supporter, but to be objective, this is a false statement.
Also, the first protest didn’t deserve the reaction it got. Though I don’t agree with the statement that was presented, they have the right to protest as they did. They were peaceful and expressing their message, which is a right guaranteed by the Constitution. They have the right to protest the rally just as much as others have the right to attend the rally.
What was the most frustrating to me was the hypocritical nature of the reaction of Trump’s supporters to the protesters. For a group of people who are anti-politically correct because political correctness infringes on freedom of speech, this was a poor display of free speech tolerance.
The Trump supporters are just as entitled to their opinions of immigration as the non-supporters; that’s how free speech works, not this one-sided display by the Trump fans. This is why, as a right-winger, I can’t follow this crowd, because they’re abusing their right to free speech. This crowd may very well destroy free speech just as fast as political correctness.
I tried to put myself in the shoes of the protestors. They were a group of three gentlemen about my age, and they were driven off because of the aggressive audience. If I had gone to a Bernie Sanders rally and help up a sign reading, “abolish the income tax,” I don’t believe I’d have been forced out of the venue like that.
With this situation I was reminded of a quote by Voltaire: “I might disagree with your opinion, but I am willing to give my life for you to express it.”
Trump has denounced the media for what they’ve made him out to be. The fact is that Trump is offensive, and there’s no way around it. He even wants that persona about him, so why would he denounce media in that way? If there is freedom of the press, then the press is allowed to have a political slant. And, just because the leftist media dislikes Trump doesn’t mean he should denounce them in the way he did at the rally.
Trump uses the free press to his advantage, anyway. He plays the media like a fiddle, gaining much of his momentum from controversial comments the media can’t help but report on. Trump exploits the free press to become more known and improve his standing in the polls.
Freedom of the press is certainly a right-wing idea, but Trump and many modern republicans hold media responsible for things they have a Constitutional right to do. Once again, this isn’t consistent with right-wing thinking.
As for the second protest… The man was ejected from the DCU Center, and an article in the Telegram & Gazette revealed some information about this protester. Peter Rondon, 29, was charged with disorderly conduct and trespassing. He was fined $50 for each infraction, but these fines were reduced as he is unemployed and they are civil offenses.
More interesting is Rondon’s past. According to the Telegram, Rondon was charged with a bomb attempt 10 years ago at an Army recruiting center in Worcester. He’s a radical activist, and he acted out in violence at the Trump rally. Rondon’s behavior isn’t acceptable, and doesn’t help his cause. The moment your free speech turns aggressive or violent it loses its value.
But Trump’s followers attacked Rondon, too, which isn’t acceptable either. It didn’t even feel like a political event at this point. It was just chaos among disagreeing individuals.
When Trump started to talk about his “wall” the audience was particularly enthused. The details of the plan don’t matter to Trump’s people. They just want to hear what he has to say.
When I heard people saying “kill them” any time immigration was brought up, I was concerned. I can’t support a candidate who’s crowd subscribes to this brand of thinking.
Trump has attracted a following that gives the right-wing a bad name. I would say the people I encountered at the rally didn’t represent any right-winged ideas, rather they represented the Trump icon.
My final thoughts on the rally are about that last protestor. The man also felt Donald Trump is a racist, based on what he was yelling at Trump. As he was being ejected from the DCU Center Trump’s comment was uncalled for. Making fun of someone’s physical appearance isn’t getting Trump’s point across.
If Trump is tired of political correctness, like most right-wingers are, then he needs to attack that principle of political correctness. Most people think that means to just be as offensive as possible, including Trump and his crowd. But this isn’t opposing political correctness at all, it’s just being offensive.
The right-wing believe it’s a natural right to offend people with one’s free speech, but just being offensive for its own sake isn’t granted in this right. The one rule for freedom of speech is “don’t yell fire in a movie theater,” and Trump does just that.
Also, Trump spoke about putting tariffs on trade and taxing the rich more. This isn’t consistent with laissez-faire capitalism, something the right believes in. My biggest problem with Trump is that his views are not right-winged.
But even with all this said, there are still some unfair accusations directed towards Trump.
Many denounce how he can run his campaign off endless money, but these are them same people who dislike the Super PAC. But, Trump isn’t taking money from anyone; it’s a self-funded campaign. There hasn’t been a self-funded presidential campaign in America for it’s entire history. Trump has no Super PAC but is still getting flack for how his campaign is run.
Meanwhile, everyone praises how Bernie Sanders takes only small donations from his supporters and no PAC money. It’s overlooked how much money Bernie has received from Unions. All his top donors aren’t individuals supporting his cause, but massive backers such as the teamsters union.
The Super PAC was originally created to keep up with the unions backing their politicians. This idea seems to have lost its value.
To conclude, Donald Trump’s behavior at the rally wasn’t respectful. But, he does have a right to act as such. Also, Trump’s policies simply aren’t consistent with the right. And his opposers need to better articulate why they dislike Trump; many have jumped to conclusions.
Donald Trump is a mystery to me, but history will tell if my thoughts on him are accurate or not.