A day’s outing at a coastal walkway in the pretty American state of Rhode Island brought me face-to-face with two ardent Trump supporters.
With presidential elections just two months away and Trump trailing Democratic candidate Joe Biden in several national polls, the Trump rally being held at this coastal state park took on an air of significance.
A tiny Tubby-the-Tugboat was plastered with huge photos of a smiling Trump and a large American flag blowing in the wind; it chugged along in the bay waters, bobbing in the waves.
Two middle-aged women passed us by; one with bright purple lipstick and magenta-dyed hair, the other wearing a t-shirt with the letters T-R-U-M-P emblazoned across her boobs.
“Hi there!” I called out to them, approaching, as my travel companions took a ringside seat to enjoy the show.
“Can you tell me what was going on here this morning? A Trump rally?”
“Yes,” answered the one with lips painted brightly.
“I see you are Trump supporters….”
“Yes,” she gushed, ready to tackle me, ready for a showdown; she instantly took over the conversation whilst her mate looked on.
“Can you tell me why Trump is your candidate of choice?”
I could see a tirade was gathering, alongside some faintly masked incredulity.
“You don’t know? He has done so much for this country! The economy is booming. We can live. We can go on vacations as we used to. He has improved relations around the world. Look at what he’s done with China! And Russia! People respect America now, thanks to Trump! Otherwise, we would be like Venezuela. Do you want us to be like Venezuela?”
The force and passion with which she spoke, as well as the heavy New York accent, nearly blew me away. These were the kind of people one saw behind Trump during his TV rallies. These were the supporters we often shook our heads at, wondering how they could be so thoroughly duped, so completely uninformed.
“What about Venezuela?” I asked, failing to make the connection.
“Don’t you know what is going on down there! I do research! I know!”
Her mate, identity concealed under massive sunglasses and a wide-brimmed sunhat, chimed in. “It’s all underground. It’s all underneath. You have to read up on it,” she spoke in low, almost furtive tones.
“We can’t let them make us socialists!” Purple Lips started to rant.
“Don’t you know?” She now was getting hot with anger and disbelief at my stupidity.
“No, I don’t….”
“The Democrats! Of course! They’ll turn us all into socialists!”
“Oh, I didn’t ….”
“How would you like it if someone came into your country and forced you to become a socialist? Heh????”
“That’s their plan. That’s what they want to do! I research these things. I know!”
The mate chimed in again with another comment about all this taking place underground, just below the surface.
“What about Trump’s sexist attitudes? As women, do you not feel offended?” I asked, staring at the t-shirt.
“Oh, come on!” came an even more vehement response. “This is fake news. These are stories the media make up about Trump. He is a good person. He has helped many people. What about the little boy he helped? You know, he doesn’t take his salary. He gives it all to charity. He is a very generous person.”
We seemed now to be getting into cult territory. The mate rebuked Purple Lips to quiet down and calm down, again reminding me that everything is going on underground, and I should read up on it all.
“The media hate Trump. They make up stories about him,” she continued. “Look at that TV reporter over there!” She pointed to a TV truck, with a reporter interviewing a ‘Black Lives Matter’ leader. The group had also been present during the political activities of the day.
“Why do they interview ‘Black Lives Matter’, but not us? Is that fair? Do you think that’s right?”
I had to admit she had a point.
“It’s because they hate Trump and don’t want him to win,” she went on, completely convinced of the invincibility of her point of view.
“People don’t know. They don’t read. I know what’s going on. I go on the internet. I research these things. If you don’t want to become a socialist, you’d better do some research yourself,” she instructed me, with another gush of strong emotion. It seemed a combination of adulation of the presidential hopeful and impatience at my cluelessness.
They were losing steam now, and started to walk towards a third mate, who had been laughing uncontrollably throughout the entire conversation.
“Well, thanks for chatting,” I called out.
They said their good-byes, smiling, and wished me well. Did I detect a secret condemnation of my evident ignorance?
I never did find out what the Venezuela thing was all about…. Nor where the mate had got her Trump t-shirt.
© copyright: Linda Pfotenhauer