To those on the outside, a Trump Rally stars a barely literate conman, repeating his hit lines from 2016. He spreads his unique brand of hatred, targeting mostly minorities and women, saving a few barbs for others who didn’t let him have his way. It somewhat reminds of a circus, although the Headmaster often seems like a clown with the oversized red tie and the hair. There’s no explanation for the hair except it seems to have a life of its own. Changing direction and color without notice.
For the insiders, the loyalists, the Trump base; it’s like church. Except instead of exhortations to chase Satan away. He’s leading the service. Trump rallies are a traveling roadshow. Seeking out destinations where a big enough segment of his loyalists can be found to listen to him brag about false accomplishments, attack the media, and cue the chants whether it be; “Lock Her Up,” or “Send Her Home,” or “Mexico!” in response to the question about who’s going to pay for the wall.
The Trump Rally is the biggest event of the year for those who aren’t on the traveling team. If they didn’t already have their MAGA hat and Trump shirt. A vendor will gladly sell them one. The official merchandise is made in the USA, although bootleg items may be tagged, “Made in China.” The crowd is a sea of almost all white, although you can usually spot the “Michael the black guy,” spotted in the first few rows behind Trump and holding a sign. He’s made a hustle out of supporting Trump as have Diamond & Silk and a few others.
If you’ve never seen the movie, “A Face in the Crowd,” starring Andy Griffith, you should. You’ll be impressed by Andy in a serious role starring as Lonesome Rhodes, a conman who had much of the nation adoring him until his true personality came out. You never saw this Andy Griffith in Mayberry. He was a charming womanizer with an evil streak a mile wide. Commentator Keith Olbermann used to regularly call Trump, “Lonesome Rhodes” long before the election. How right he was.
Singer Neil Diamond released, “Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show” in 1969. It was recently featured in the Quentin Tarantino film, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” which gave it a revival although it never really went away. Southern evangelicals originally hated the song, thinking it mocked their revivals and traveling ministers who went from town to town. Diamond explained it was a celebration of Gospel music and the controversy ultimately subsided.
The song can’t help but remind you of a Trump rally.
“Cause Everyone Knows Brother Love’s Show”
Everyone knows a Trump rally. They’re almost all the same. Rock music starts it out, much of it played against the wishes of the artists that originally performed it.
“ Room gets suddenly still
And when you’d almost bet
You could hear yourself sweat, he walks in”
When the man himself finally arrives on stage, the crowd cheers and he revels in it. He’s been known to break out clapping for himself.
The Trump Rally is a family affair. Grandma and grandpa, the kids, bring them all.
“ Pack up the babies
And grab the old ladies
And everyone goes
’Cause everyone knows
Brother Love’s show”
The rallies are a chance to see who makes up the Trump base. You could make the case that they are the extremists and every Trump voter can’t be associated with those wearing Confederate flag shirts and spewing hate which some in the crowd do. That they’re almost all white probably is a fair representation. When they were screaming, “Send Her Back” and Trump was basking in glory for 13 seconds before moving on. (He later praised the Greenville, NC crowd as “patriots.”) It took a couple of days to get back on message after the nation pointed out how racist they were. Racists hate being called racist, being racist they don’t mind so much.
The Trump rally is a portrait of a certain part of America. When Trump opened his 2020 Campaign in my city Orlando, FL. I didn’t attend but did scour the pictures to see who I know that did. For them, it was the Trump Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show. For me, it represented something else entirely.