Last night I watched alongside GOP true believers the results from Super Tuesday roll in at a big, swanky conference room filled with pool tables, a wall of enormous TV’s and a fully stacked bar. Each screen tallied the results from CNN, Fox, MSNBC and anyone else in the broadcast world with a pulse. In the room there were fiery proclamations of doom, a calling of bullshit on expert commentary that spat out from the screens. There were card games in another room with people swilling beer and slamming cards, pretty much what you’d expect at any political gathering of true believers.
There were various groups in the crowd, branched off like tribes. They were waiting for something big. They waited for new pieces of information to come from the screens as each exit poll was mulled over.
I did my best to be unassuming. I tried to float from different groups and dip between rooms and sort of take my own poll on the only candidate I cared about, the only candidate really anyone cares about: Donald Trump.
This is the year of Trump.
This is the year we could see the Republican party get really funky. I needed to go where the action is. That’s why I jumped at the chance to join a gathering of GOP party believers. I would have done the same if the Democrats had any fire. Unfortunately, this year the Democrats have no mojo, no fury, no passion. Bernie is probably politically dead. Sure, we all know it’s going to be Hillary. She’s about as exciting as an outdated library. No matter. This is the year of the Republican camp. This is where all the excitement is. And this isn’t the kind of hopeful excitement Obama had for his first run. No, this is a whole different kind of flame entirely. This is the kind of excitement I would imagine a pyro has before burning a church down.
The moans of hades and spits of foul language erupted in another room. I tossed my Solo cup and shuffled over. Virginia was called for Trump. Rubio mostly won Northern Virginia and Richmond, but Trump won the rest of the state. I didn’t get it. Why were they pissed? Trump was the guy, right? So why the long faces?
As more states for Trump came, pontifications about America sliding off the continental shelf from the true believers were expressed. You would have thought I was at a DNC gathering. Delicately I nudged various members of the party asking who were they rooting for and what did they think about Trump. It was an unexpectedly explosive question. No one, and I mean NO ONE liked Trump. They hurled epitaphs at him, his policies, his hair, his existence. One accused him of war crimes. I gently as possible mentioned that he hadn’t taken office yet. So unless he’d taken part in genocide as a hobby, his being charged with war crimes was unlikely. The response was that he wants to kill families. He wants to sue us out of free speech. HE WANTS TO KILL PUPPIES WITH HIS BARE HANDS.
I knew I was with true believers and therefore they were likely to only back a candidate with the Republican seal of approval. It’s just the numbers don’t really bear that out exactly. In supposed battleground states like Virginia, candidates like Cruz and Rubio should have taken a larger portion of the county breakdown. I even developed an incredibly unscientific poll. My poll was conducted for weeks; it consisted of me asking anyone I come across if they like Trump. In the dozens and dozens of people I asked, not one liked him, let alone wanted to vote for him. I made sure to step outside my little bubble and ask guys with camouflage ball caps or people in minivans in a Target parking lot. No one, likes the guy.
There is no such thing as a Donald Trump voter. They simply do not exist.
But Trump stomped his opponents, and had he been anyone else, they would have already called the nomination for him. Someone at the party should have voted for him, even if Rubio won Northern Virginia. The math wasn’t adding up.
Something was wrong.
Then like a moment in a movie where the superhero scientist starts the montage of writing complicated math on a whiteboard and crumbling papers in frustration and doing jumping jacks or whatever, it hit me. In that moment I was again in love with the world because it still had the ability to surprise me. My conclusion was profound.
People are voting for Trump. Lots of people are voting for Trump. They just aren’t coping to it. I watched the room. The feigned agony, the balled fists of indignant, the self-righteous fury, all of it was an act.
I thought about the people I accidentally terrified in the Target parking lot, the coworkers I cornered at the break room fridge, all of them, liars. My god, could it be everyone is voting for Trump and no one will admit it? With numbers like he’s getting he certainly is bringing in fresh first time voters or voters that have been out of the game for a while, but he is also getting some pros. No way is he only getting new voters. He is getting all kinds of voters. Most of these voters aren’t admitting to it. But why? The Mussolini thing? David Duke? The wall? Trade war with China or confrontation with Russia? You can file all of those under “Not Good.”
I suppose one epiphany per article will suffice for now.
I will say the rest of the night went much better. I even jumped in and threw some jabs myself about how I heard on YouTube that it was Trump that actually killed Cecil the lion. True Story.
They loved it.
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