4 Nov 2016

The greatest reality TV show in town – the Donald arrives

“Dog show” screams the red neon flashing sign board outside what appears to be a bland North Carolina sports hall. “Bead show”, it flashes too. “TRUMP RALLY” shouts the very same sign.

The Donald is coming to the little town of Concord. The dog and bead shows are later in the week.

No one walks to the hall. They all drive, happy in the knowledge that their candidate will do nothing to reduce their car dependence. Mr Trump has called climate change a hoax by the Chinese. Hence field upon field has been marked out with flags marking out a dozen grassy parking lots.

We must set up our cameras at 10.00am for an event that won’t start until 4.00pm. Security is more than tight. An almost exclusively white queue is already forming as we arrive. Inside, the hall is being made ready. By 1.00pm the crowd is allowed in. Three black supporters are given pride of place behind the podium, virtually the only African Americans to turn up. They will add an otherwise absent, camera catching, multi-cultural element behind “the Donald” when he speaks.

It’s questionable how Sir Elton John feels about the blaring of his music as the tension is stoked. Finally, at spot on 4.00pm, “the next President of the United States, Donald Trump”, is announced to a deafening crescendo of cheering from a country crowd of perhaps 600 souls. And there he is, big, brash, orange, and sporting that inexplicable strawberry blonde hair.

The event veers between macabre “she’s behind you” pantomime and something more menacing. As in all pantos there are the moments the crowd is crying out for. “I haven’t got there yet in my speech”, shouts Trump, “yes, I’m gonna build that wall, and Mexico will pay”. “Mexico will pay”, screams the crowd, “Mexico will pay”. The temperature is rising. “Trump, Trump, Trump,” (such a screamable word) “Trump”, “Trump”, “Trump”. The crowd is in a rage. They need another target. “Bad people”, shouts Trump. “The media, they lie!” The crowd turns to our platform, “liars, liars, liars,” they scream hysterically.

But when he comes to taxes, that’s when he captures the working man and woman. He’s going to cut those taxes. Policy at last. A man turns to me and bellows: “I have to do three jobs and a third of my money goes in taxes. He’s going to cut them. That’s why I’m voting Trump.” The candidate won’t release his own tax return – but that’s trumped by the belief that he will slash tax anyway.

There’s one more to come. Hillary. Hillary abuse litters his speech, but with a flick of his left arm towards the red capped shouters in the seats behind him, the chorus erupts. “Lock her up, lock her up, lock her up.” His speech climaxes with constant references to “crooked Hillary” and “FBI criminal investigations” (she is not under criminal investigation). Finally, he ends with the assertion that there is a pending indictment (denied by the FBI) and that her election would trigger a “constitutional crisis”.

The crowd is done. The Donald lingers and then disappears behind a black curtain. The crowd is happy – fuelled up by the best reality television show ever to come to town. “Politics sucks”, screams a burly man to my right. “Vote Trump”.

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