The following is Paula Schramm’s firsthand report on the spectacle that took centerstage last week in Burlington:
I read with interest the Messenger editorial, and the articles about last Thursday’s Trumpfest (” Locals take in Trump”, 1/8/16). My first thought beforehand was to ignore it – not add anything to all the hullabaloo.
When something really troubling is being said, ignoring it can be interpreted as agreeing…. so it gets tricky.
I feel what Trump has been saying about banning any and all Muslims from coming into this country has crossed some line, and needs public discussion and attention. The challenge is HOW to talk about it, and from watching the enthusiastic Vermont Trump supporters in the theater, I have a good idea what that dynamic is……no one really cares WHAT he says – it’s that he can stand up to the establishment, Republican or Democrat, and TRUMPET their anger for them, ( because they’ve been feeling so frustrated and powerless to change anything. I can relate ! ) They feel he’s their CHAMPION, and they will rise to his defense, even over stupid things he says.
When it became so obvious that there would BE a great to-do, ( after the Trump Campaign’s announcement that they had sent out 20,000 free tickets to a 1,400 seat venue ! ), I changed my mind and went. To be a witness at least, and see for myself !
So with a few friends, I spent my Thursday colliding with the underlord Trump’s dark world vision, and coming out into the bright Burlington buzz of VT Pub & Brewery’s celebration that was really all about Bernie !
We got down to “Trumpsville” and started doing our time waiting in line to get into the Trump event, and to witness it for ourselves. We arrived at 1:30 pm to be sure to get “first-come, first-served” seats for the 7pm talk. Two of us did visit the Bernie Campaign Office ( 131 Church St., 3rd floor ) while the others held our place in line…and both of us made contributions to Bernie in honor of the occasion ! We picked up free bumper stickers, Bernie signs & buttons, and bought a few lawn signs. The place was buzzing & the MSNBC news team had visited earlier. I think a lot of people took advantage of this opportunity to show their support for Bernie !
When we were back out on Church St. taking our Bernie loot to the car, we met Ben Cohen walking down towards City Park, holding a lighted Bernie sign in his hand. (They are very nice & will sell for $8 online on “Etsy”, as a fund-raiser ). While we were talking with him, a N.Y.Times reporter came up and started interviewing us. We let Ben do the talking, and had a good laugh when it became clear that she had no idea she was talking to a “famous”person, and went running after him when she found out. A very Vermont moment…
We did make it into the Flynn for Trump’s talk…..we found out at the last minute from a young woman who’d been escorted out , that we had to lie & say we would vote for Trump to be allowed to stay after we gave our tickets in at the door. ( This was all so weird and obnoxious – it didn’t matter after all that we had gotten tickets or had waited in line 4 hours in the cold ! )
And then, since the Trump campaign had released so many more tickets than seats, there were maybe 500 fans left, out of the 2,000 or so of us who had waited in line, who didn’t get in. Meanwhile Trump defended himself in the press about the “loyalty oath” condition by saying how “loyal he is to his supporters”. All those left out in the cold just didn’t get the chance to experience his “loyalty” !
It was both instructive & disturbing to be there & see Trump in action for ourselves, & to see how people reacted to him. He spent most of his time talking about how wonderful he was, and getting the crowd to wave their signs & chant “Trump” and point to any protesters who spoke up…..until security was able to get them out. These brave, ( I thought, anyway ) people kept popping up every ten minutes or so ( about 9 times in all, and about 2 dozen people over all ) and Trump got increasingly irritated as they just kept on doing it. The crowd got increasingly worked up too. We were sitting quietly in the back row, and finally exited behind a group of protesters when we couldn’t take any more of the “blood-lust atmosphere”. As each group of protesters came out of the theater, they were greeted with cheers from the hundreds of people assembled across the street from the Flynn. That definitely made us all feel heartened….and we went over to the Vermont Pub & Brewery where Chris Hayes & MSNBC was set up to cover the day. We took in the very upbeat crowd and interesting, lively discussion among the commenters, including Howard Dean.
You may be able to watch it, if you want, on this link ( the Jan.7, 8pm show ) http://www.msnbc.com/all#
Just a few more thoughts : I wondered how the people featured in the Messenger front page story had fared with the Trump oath process. Did the daughter who was a Trump fan get in, but her mother who said she was undecided get escorted out ?
We met people who had said they were curious, or were there to hear what Trump had to say before deciding, who were heartlessly sent out. We also learned that the Trump signs that were used to such effect had been passed out just minutes after someone had reassured the Flynn owner that yes, of course, they would honor the contract agreement to have no signs of any sort.
Another lie from the Campaign that somehow fit their pattern of thumbing their nose at the city of Burlington, the police, and the tax-payers by refusing to co-ordinate or help with the security efforts needed from their sending out 20,000 tickets for such a small venue.
Trump’s love of the lie was on full view too – it was “ten below zero outside” ( so” take his coat “- he ordered the police to do to a protester). “There were 20,000 people here to see me !” ( There were about 2,000 of us in the line stretching down St.Paul St. ) ” The people here in Vermont are so great, they love me !”
It was clear to us that Trump wants people to love him as much as he loves himself. What wasn’t so clear was , will HE still love us tomorrow ?