by Nat Stein
Usually we’re the tellers of stories, not the subjects of them. But the notebook-toters and camera-slingers in the press pen weathered some uncomfortable attention as Donald Trump directed his followers to howl at “the dishonest media” at his Tuesday rally in Colorado Springs at the Norris Penrose Event Center.
“They’re liars,” the Republican nominee declared as the riled up crowd turned around to boo and jeer at the fenced off section of journalists, local and traveling. The media — which, for the record, is not a singular, unified entity — is “rigging the election,” Trump told his supporters, by “telling totally false stories.” In particular, he bemoaned coverage of the recently surfaced hot-mic tape that unwittingly captured the then-59-year-old reality TV star bragging about “grabbing women by the pussy.” Multiple women have since come forward with allegations of sexual assault which Trump has threatened to sue the New York Times for publishing.
“I have been under constant attack” a blustering Trump exclaimed, adding that “they even want to try to rig the election at the polling booth where so many cities are corrupt. So corrupt.”
Worth noting is that general elections, like this one, are administered on the state, not municipal, level. Also worth noting is that the two elected officials who oversee the election here — El Paso County’s Clerk and Recorder Chuck Broerman, whose office gathers votes, and Secretary of State Wayne Williams, whose office processes them — have both adamantly rejected the notion that funny business of any consequence is remotely possible. They’re both Republicans.
Trump encouraged his followers to trust neither members of their own party who say “everything is just peachy-dory” nor independent polls that show him down by double digit percentage points in some cases. “I hear we’re doing great in Colorado,” Trump noted with smug defiance. “So it doesn’t matter what they’re saying. My people say we’re going to win Colorado.”
Many attendees shared these seemingly contradictory sentiments — that the election is “rigged” against their candidate, but that he’s surely headed toward victory.
Christine Chapman, who travelled from Rocky Ford and wore head-to-toe American flag garb, told the Indy she’s concerned about voter fraud, like dead people on the rolls and “illegals” who don’t have to show ID. Nonetheless, she believes Trump will come out on top. “I can’t understand why he wouldn’t ... I mean, look at the reception he gets,” Chapman said gesturing behind her to all the other fans waiting to get in the door on the windy fall afternoon.
An employee of Trump’s casino in Cripple Creek, James Sober, who donned a t-shirt that read “Hillary for Prison” from the conspiracy theorist website, infowars.com, showed an even more cynical attitude. “Oh, I know my vote won’t count,” he said, “I’m just here to show my support.” And when, as he anticipates, Clinton takes office and “goes after our guns,” Sober added, “things will get ugly.”
Trump’s professed skepticism of the democratic process stole headlines after he wouldn’t commit to accepting the result of the election on the debate stage Wednesday night. “I will keep you in suspense,” he declared ominously — a statement that elicited horror from all those who believe in the peaceful transfer of power according to voters’ will as a constitutionally enshrined pillar of the American system of government.
But at the rally Tuesday, attendees readily admitted this is an election like no other.
“I work for a company that’s closing, moving all our jobs offshore. And if we get Hillary, that’s going to keep happening,” said Joe Hutchcraft, an independent who registered as Republican this year to support Trump’s candidacy. “If I live in a country where they try to take all our jobs, our rights, our guns, own my house, my car and give me rations for what I can eat, then yeah, I believe there would be a revolution.”
(For the record, seizing private property is not one of Clinton’s stated policy proposals. Similar fears about the Obama administration have not come to pass either.)
And whether “revolution” means an armed insurrection Hutchcraft did not specify, but the idea that this election is a kind of last stand against globalist neoliberalism seemed well accepted at the rally.
“If we lose, it’s over,” predicted Jonathan Reed, a Trump campaign volunteer. “The country will slide into socialism forever because of immigration.” Repeating the incorrect assertion that Clinton wants to “blow open the border completely,” he commented that “all you need is 10 million more third worlders — and I know that’s a pejorative — but all you need it 10-15 million more people with no stake in the game other than they want a check from the government to swing the elections forever in this country.”