By: Joseph Siess
Des Moines, Iowa in this twisted year of our Lord 2016 is a strange moment in time and space to find oneself. The political landscape in these far flung northern reaches of the high plains are so warped, so degenerate, so strangled by the choking fog of modern existential angst, that anybody with any sense would stay far away.
Donald Trump’s political survival depends on this cerebral crisis of middle America, and this is precisely why he and his campaign can’t get enough. Trump probably doesn’t enjoy descending from his tower in Manhattan to fly a thousand miles inland to mingle with bread basket America, but unfortunately for him, Iowa is a swing state, and swing states carry a lot of weight as far as presidential politics go. Yes.
However, from personal experience I can say there is nothing more bizarre and preternatural than a Trump rally in Des Moines, Iowa. I suppose I came up here in a quest to better understand the political forces at play, but what I discovered in the end was something a lot more visceral, confusing and much more troubling than I previously imagined.
Aside from the “Chinese Americans Love Trump” people, and the Afro-American guys selling “Hillary Sucks but not like Monica, Trump that Bitch” shirts in front of the convention center, I suppose everything else seemed completely normal in comparison. None of this resembled the old and ancient backwater tales from America’s grim past, but then again none of this makes any sense at all when you really think about it.
Or why else would a bunch of working class middle Americans blindly support some kind of megalomaniac billionaire from New York with a rotten track record. It’s all part of some twisted political landscape that shatters all preconceptions. Forget everything you think you know. Welcome to Trumplandia people.
I recall shuffling through security, wearing my red, white and blue ‘Super Chevrolet Service’ hat, white shorts, blue polo shirt and red tennis shoes, and proceeding into the auditorium amidst a haggardly crowd of natives. “They keep themselves down”, one woman told me about black people. “Anybody who wears their pants down to their knees…”
I remember feeling completely shattered, raped and confused when I heard Mick Jagger’s voice on the PA system. A podium, splashed in florescent lighting, ‘Trump-Pence’ scrawled across it, loomed menacingly from the stage. “Impossible,” I thought. “How could they…”
“Anyway,” the lady said to me and another guy standing in the auditorium. “Trump likes it rowdy. So we got to be all like ‘lock her up!’ and ‘build that wall!’” I chuckled nervously and nodded. “Well, Roudy’s my first name,” said the other guy. “No shit,” I muttered. The guy grinned and whipped out his drivers license. Lo and behold the guy’s first name was ‘Roudy’.
Moments later, Born on the Bayou by Credence Clearwater Revival bubbled up on the PA. ‘I can remember the fourth of July…’ At this point I recall feeling winded, weak in the knees, and fearful to the point of possible mental collapse. “How?” How could such a political imposter and faux populist hijack such a pure and integral moment of American music and culture and bend it to such warped degeneracy? Donald Trump for the people? Madness…
I wandered up into the top bleachers where I could get a birds eye view of the Trump people below and at the same time watch the guy spew his rancid swill from the stage. I sat awkwardly and scribbled into my notebook. At some point a middle aged woman and her husband sat next to me. “How’s it going?” the woman asked with a smile. “Well, you know,” I said with a grin.
After awhile the lady started chatting me up. She was a Ben Carson supporter who eventually settled on Trump as an alternative to Clinton. Her husband was a democratic defector from Kansas City. “So how long have you been supporting Trump?” she asked me. “Well…” I thought for a few seconds. “As soon as he won the nomination I guess.” She nodded in approval.
The lady started jabbering at me about her children and the national polls. “So what kind of chance do you think Trump has?” she asked. “Nonsense!” I muttered. “The polls mean nothing. Trump could absolutely win! I mean these polls don’t mean a Goddamned thing!” I jeered.
At this point an elderly man a row ahead of us slapped me on the knee and yelled, “I was listening to Limbaugh on the way up!” I nodded and gave the guy my full attention. “And he was saying the same damned thing,” he muttered with his head cocked. “Damn right,” I said smacking the bleacher with my fist.
Moments later somebody got on stage and started firing up the crowd with mindless political platitudes. Meanwhile, another middle aged woman sitting next to me finally struck up a frivolous conversation. She asked me why I was there supporting Trump, adding that it was encouraging to see young people involved in politics. “Well, this thing is just too important to sit out…” I told her shaking my head. Then she asked me, “are you a believer?”
“Oh yes, absolutely,” I said solemnly. We locked eyes.”Like have you taken Jesus into your heart?” “You know it,” I snapped. “No doubt. It’s something I hold deep inside me.” Mike Pence came out at this point and the crowd went manic. Secret service agents sliced through the crowd. The guy next to me kept howling “over here!” at the kid passing out ‘Veterans for Trump’ signs.
Donald Trump finally came out and the spectacle was more akin to some kind of sporting event than a political rally. Lights flashed and music sounded as the candidate emerged before an applauding crowd.
Trump began by castigating Clinton, plunging the arena into bouts of hissing and jeering. He went on about the Iran money drop deal in the news lately, and spoke about getting American allies to pay up. Figuring I could just watch the speech later on YouTube, I eventually tuned Trump out to focused on the meat and potatoes of this thing. I realized I had not boomed all the way up to Des Moines to listen to Trump ramble, but I was there to get a feel for his supporters, and the anxiety-riddled environment of a swing state Trump rally.
Essentially the main nerve of middle American existential angst channeled into the most unnatural and farcical of political jest. Yes.
Working class middle Americans howling and whooping like foaming savages at some disconnected Billionaire who lives in a blinking tower a thousand miles away on Manhattan Island. Don’t get me wrong. Hillary Clinton is a wretched candidate for the presidency, but to flock around a man like Donald Trump is merely the sign of the times. These warped, twisted, degenerate times we are facing here in this shattered America.
I guess only time will tell. All I know is that madness abounds, and if you can accept that, you are one step closer to getting it together.