MANCHESTER, N.H. — As you might expect, a lot of Donald Trump’s supporters are a lot like “The Donald” himself. They are loud, rude, ignorant racists — so of course I traveled three hours to New Hampshire in order to hang out with them.
I was actually in the Granite State to protest Trump. At this point I’m pretty numb to Republicans saying awful things on camera, but Trump’s assertion during his presidential campaign announcement that Mexicans are “rapists” was impossible to ignore. So the next day, a couple of friends and I drove to Manchester, N.H., hoping to hold Trump accountable for his bigotry, and the Republican Party for its subsequent silence.
We arrived in the mid-afternoon at Manchester Community College, where Trump’s first New Hampshire rally would be held. After making and hiding our signs, we headed into the event.
The most striking thing about the Trump staffers was how attractive they were. Young men and women of all races stood smiling at the check-in tables, looking for all the world as though they’d stepped off the pages of Vogue.
After getting past the slew of part-time models Trump had manning the door, we joined the long line of old white people (and College Republicans, who are old white people in the making), and waited for the doors to open. While we stood there, I managed to snag a Trump shirt, which I’m willing to trade for an O’Malley button and a bumper sticker to be named later.
After waiting for about an hour, and talking to a local woman who “really likes” Trump, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders, we managed to get into the college gym where Trump would make the magic happen. First, though, we had to hear from a variety of warm-up speakers — a talk-show host, a failed gubernatorial candidate, a state representative, and so on. My favorite was Miss New Hampshire USA, who said being a beauty queen was the greatest achievement a little girl could dream of. Someone should introduce her to Hillary Clinton. (As an aside, I’m betting either Miss New Hampshire or Miss Iowa wins the Trump-sponsored Miss USA contest this year.)
As exciting as it was to hear from various unknown New Hampshire politicos, it was even better to meet some of my fellow rally attendees. Mingling in the crowd was political satirist and perennial presidential candidate Vermin Supreme. I chatted with him about what it’s like to run for president, and he gave me a lollipop and showed me his dental records. Also in the crowd was New Hampshire local Tyler McMullen, who told me he’d come to the rally seeking a job from Trump. McMullen later began shouting profanities, and was ultimately charged with disorderly conduct, the only person to be arrested at the rally.
After some time Trump arrived, walking on to “Taking Care of Business” by Automotive, a refreshingly honest musical message from a presidential candidate. As Trump started to opine on everything under the sun, I and my fellow rabble-rousers began our protest.
The Trump supporters reacted to our protest with all the civility of in-real-life Internet trolls. If life had a Caps Lock key, these folks would have worn it out in the first half hour. A group of well-groomed young men in suits set the tone by calling me “gay” and a “fruit,” but it didn’t bother me much. I could smell their hair spray from yards away. One of them said he would “knock [my] tube socks off,” which I invited him to try, but we were interrupted by a Trump staffer who hoisted one of the campaign’s signs and used it to block me. At that point, I moved to a different part of the audience and continued to hold my sign high above the crowd.
It was at this point that I met one of the most unpleasant people I’ve ever interacted with in politics, and that’s saying something, since I’ve met Newt Gingrich.
Since I didn’t catch this fellow’s name, I think I’ll call him Gaston. Gaston looked like he was in his late fifties, and was probably about six inches shorter than me. As soon as I came within earshot, the torrent of abuse started:
“No one wants you here, go home.”
“They are criminals, they came here illegally and they need to go back where they came from.”
“Does your mother know you’re here? I bet she would be soooo proud.”
After jawing at me awhile, Gaston decided he’d try to block my sign with a Trump rally sign, but sadly for him, he couldn’t reach high enough, which only made him more angry. He whipped out his cell phone and took a close up picture of my face.
“Oh boy, you’re gonna be famous all right. I’m gonna put you all over Facebook, all over the Internet. I’m gonna destroy you,” at which point I just had to laugh.
“Oh, you think this is funny? Do you know who I am? You have no idea who I am. I’m gonna destroy you!”
During his monologue, other supporters chimed in echoing his sentiments, lest you think he was an outlier. Like I said, Trump’s supporters are much like Trump himself.
After the rally ended, I did a few interviews with local and regional news, and then my friends and I went out for dinner at a Mexican place on Manchester’s main thoroughfare. As I sat in the outdoor seating enjoying my food and chortling about Trump’s absurdity, who walked by our table but Gaston!
“Of course you’re eating Mexican food!” he screamed. “Of course! Because you’re a traitor, and you hate America!” He continued to hurl vitriol my way for about a minute before walking away, and I turned back to my traitorous fajita.
Kiernan Majerus-Collins, 19, is a student at Bates College and a Democratic Town Committee member from West Hartford. He can be reached on Facebook
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