This past week has brought a slew of political hotshots to the Little Apple, as well as thousands of their supporters. Having never met a Trump supporter before – and half-convinced that The Donald’s rampant popularity was just a horrific Truman Show-esque prank – I decided to go undercover among his most dedicated followers in rainy downtown Appleton this past Tuesday, March 29.
I dressed in red, white and blue, armed myself with white privilege and a digital camera, and headed out into the steady gray drizzle to see these people for myself. Hundreds of people were lined up all along downtown Appleton. The end of the line was nowhere in sight, so I just started walking. I received more than a few suspicious stares. Trump supporters aren’t a trusting bunch.
One particularly rowdy group of people had the misfortune to be across the street from the bulk of the protesters. “I’m triggered!,” a teenage boy yelled, sniggering to his friends. This was disheartening, to say the least, but I pushed onward and approached my first target—a group of four high school kids in red and white “Make America Great Again” baseball caps.
“Hey guys!” I announced, very aware that I sounded like a hopelessly uncool dad. “I’m trying to get some pictures of Trump supporters. Do you mind if I take a picture of you?” And just like that, everything changed. The kids squished together happily, proud to display their support for America’s flashiest billionaire-turned-politician. I discovered that people love being asked to pose for pictures, especially these people in their Trump regalia. I had expected the rally attendees to be ashamed of their support for such a blatantly racist, sexist and incompetent candidate—instead, they were proud to be backing Donald, and flashed their pride with buttons, hats and t-shirts.
I was very surprised. I learned that Trump’s supporters are not hateful—they are unaware.
The sheer mass of people who support Trump’s outlandish claims and unreasonable plans represent a huge flaw with the American education system. The majority of these people do not fully understand how the American system of government works, how policies are enacted and how change is made. They don not understand that when Trump says, “I will build a wall, and Mexico will pay for it,” that it is impossible. They do not understand that there will be no happy wall to keep drugs and terrorists out with a little door to let in all the “good guys,” and that Mexico will not pay for it because one country simply cannot coerce another sovereign nation to do something like that.
I heard grumblings about undocumented immigrants, and about how the protesters across the street needed to get jobs. One man asked loudly, “Are any of [the protestors] even of working age?” Trump supporters are people who value hard work and think that through hard work one can achieve anything in America. That’s the American Dream. That’s how Donald Trump made it in America—you know, with a small loan of $1 million.
But, the American Dream does not work for anyone except cis, white, heterosexual Americans. And it works better for males than females. People of Color and people in the LGBTQA+ community can work as hard as they can, but the systematic racism, classism and bigotry in America will not allow them to succeed—at least not at the same level as white cisgender heterosexual males.
If the Trump supporters understand this, they are certainly doing their best to ignore it. The issue with “Trump is looking out for us” is that “us” does not encompass all Americans. It leaves millions of people behind. Trump is not looking out for the Muslim population. Trump is not supporting the Trans community. Trump is supporting himself and people who look and think like him—that is, they only think about themselves.
It is so terrifying that he has reached so many people with this tactic. Trump supporters are rallying for something that many of them don’t fully understand the consequences of.
Trump might make America great again—for white cisgender heterosexual males, and white cisgender heterosexual males only..