Boring, predictable Trump plays to conservative Lynden crowd

Supporters say he will beat Hillary Clinton.

Supporters say he will beat Hillary Clinton.


An eight-car motorcade of black and silver SUVs and vans received thunderous cheers as it sped onto the dirt field in the center of the arena at the Northwest Washington Fairgrounds. When Donald Trump's head, topped with his trademark "Make America Great Again" red cap, peeked up from behind one of the vehicles, the crowd roared again.

His acolytes idolize him. Trump's supporters have fallen sway to a cult of personality.

Mixed in with this worship is a little bit of Disneyland ride. The Trump experience is hours of waiting in line under an unremitting sun for the relatively short pleasure of seeing and hearing the man firsthand. Not that many of the thousands who showed up on Saturday, May 7, to the fairgrounds in Lynden were complaining.

A woman from India sitting in the welcome shade of the grandstands lit up with joy when she saw Trump. The woman and her husband, from Bellingham, declined to give their names.

I had asked them before Trump showed up what they thought of him and particularly of his reputation as a racist. To give just one example, when Trump announced his candidacy in June 2015 he referred to Mexicans as "rapists" who bring drugs and crime into the United States.

"That does not bother us," the man said. "We just like him. We see him the last 20 years on the TV, and nobody said anything (critical of him)."

"The way he speaks," the woman said, "he sounds like he would bring real change to America."

Trump gave a boring speech, which started an hour late and must have gone on for 40 minutes. Predictably, he spent a huge chunk of his time saying how great he was and putting down his erstwhile Republican opponents and his likely challenger for the White House, "crooked Hillary Clinton."

"Just forget it," Trump said of Clinton, in that way he has of delivering short, offhanded sentences that seem to hold his fans in thrall.

"Can you imagine another four years of the Clintons? Seriously. She's totally controlled by Wall Street and everyone that gave her millions of dollars."

Clinton, understandably, was Trump's primary target on Saturday. She would get rid of the Second Amendment right to bear arms, Trump said, and would nominate liberal Supreme Court justices who would destroy America.

But the Trumpism that resonated most with his followers was the wall he would build along the Mexican border.

"We will build a wall when it is time," Trump said to loud cheers from the crowd. "It will be a nice, high wall. ... It will have a door (but) they have to come in legally."

The Trump crowd carried the notion of the wall with them outside the arena. Trump supporters after the event were confronted with hundreds of protesters on the other side of Kok Road, chanting "Love trumps hate" and "Racists go home;" and holding signs that read "Fuck hate" and "Build bridges not walls." Trump supporters responded with chants of "Build the wall," along with some hurled insults and pointed hand gestures.

Spending seven hours rubbing sunburned shoulders with Trump supporters allowed for a little bit of belief to creep into this observer -- not belief in Trump's bullying, xenophobic, cartoonish version of world politics, but belief that he could win in November.

"I would love to just absolutely beat her," said Trump, a hypercompetitive billionaire who approaches the concept of losing about as well as a 3-year-old.

His supporters believe he can beat her. They will tell you Clinton is beatable because she is untrustworthy and -- in their view -- should go to prison. The fact that she probably won't be locked up is more evidence that the system is "rigged" (one of Trump's favorite words) to benefit the political elite.

Under his administration, Trump said, the gravy train for political fat cats would stop; miners in West Virginia and loggers in Whatcom County would get their jobs back. Trump's appeal lies in how he would take from the undeserving rich, the "political hacks" who have ruined America, and give to the poor workers who have suffered under the ineptitude of the country's leaders. For Trump supporters, this ineptitude is illustrated by Obamacare, the bad deal struck with Iran to end sanctions, and the bad trade imbalances between the U.S. and countries such as China and Japan.

Trump has the same answer for all of the country's ills: "I'll fix it fast." As unnuanced and naive as that sounds, it's just what his supporters want to hear.

About Ralph Schwartz

Posting Citizen Journalist • Member since May 23, 2014

After writing for NWCitizen for five years, Ralph Schwartz helped launch a new Whatcom County newspaper, Cascadia Daily News, joining the staff in December 2021 as government reporter. Before the Daily [...]

Comments by Readers

David MacLeod

May 08, 2016

Donald Trump is admired as one who “tells it like it is” (or at least as he thinks it is, or how he thinks his audience wants to hear how it is). Therefore I appreciate the directness of this post, which drops the pretense of attempting to hold to a journalistic unbiased report, and instead shares an honest appraisal from the unique perspective of Ralph Schwartz. It is indeed refreshing.

For those who are aware of Trump’s Scottish lineage to the MacLeod clan, yes, it is true that he has relatives in Bellingham and Lynden. As far as I can tell he is unaware of our existence, and likely could care less. I do not detect in him any concern for “family values.” 

In regards to the man who has watched Trump on TV for 20 years and is unaware of any criticisms, this is a sad and telling testimony to the narrow perspectives within which we tend to enclose ourselves in, made possible by narrowing and sectorized media (likely this man is completely unaware of NWCitizen). The philosopher Jean Gebser warned of this over 60 years ago, pointing out the increasing tendency of individuals and collectives to be able to perceive only their own sector, which “lead only to further sectors of particularization and, ultimately, to atomization. After that, what remains, like what was left in the crater of Hiroshima, is only an amorphous dust; and it is probable that at least one part of humanity will follow this path, at least in ‘spirit,’ i.e., psychologically.”


Dianne Foster

May 24, 2016

Belated thanks to Ralph for these insights.  I was there after the Amy Goodman talk, and found it quite frightening. Re-reading my Dad’s letters home from POW camp in Nazi Germany, and having spent my undergrad years studying fascism, I’m alert to the danger. At the same time, we need to keep fighting for the most optimal outcomes, by shifting the Dems to a party of the people, not the money.  We need a progressive banner that speaks to everyone’s needs, so the voices of hate and devisiveness are drowned out by the louder voice of compassion.  Hillary’s actions in Honduras, Libya, and Ukraine (via her State Dept appointee Victoria Nuland), speak to her willingness to sacrifice the peoples of other nations to benefit us at home.  I won’t tolerate regime change as foreign policy, for their sake or ours.  I will continue to support Bernie’s efforts to reform the party and nation, will continuing to confront Trump and company wherever.

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