The Northwest Washington Fair, in Lynden, Washington, is clean and wholesome. If you’ve taken small children to the Fair, you have appreciated the sanitary bathrooms and the separate carnival ride area for the little ones. At night, middle schoolers from Whatcom County and beyond converge on the “adult” carnival area, roaming in packs in a miasma of hope and hormones. The fairground glitters, but in a safe way.
Nobody would ever call Lynden edgy. It's pleasant. And that pleasant somnolence appears to have rubbed off on Donald Trump’s visit to Lynden's fairground yesterday.
Despite calls from some in the progressive community to stay home in order to avoid unseemly confrontation, hundreds of protesters came to Lynden on short notice. And many more people came to the fairground to see the candidate. Trump supporters stood in line to get into the rally on one side of the street; protesters lined the other side of the street.
Here are a few impressions.
|Favorite wonky sign.|
What people yelled
I carried a sign that said “Trump scares me.” I chose that message for three reasons:
(1) The pundits say that this presidential election will be all about emotion, with no room for rationality. The pundits say that Trump appeals to emotion. I searched my emotions, and this is what they told me: Trump scares me.
(2) It’s a simple declarative sentence that can’t be argued with. It’s how I feel.
(3) It doesn’t say anything mean about Trump or his supporters.
While everybody was on their best behavior, and probably not meaning to be mean, people did yell.
An angry man walked down the street, yelling at each protestor he passed. When he got to me, he said “’Trump scares me?’ HUH! What are you FOR?” That was his rehearsed line, but alas for him, it turned out to be a non sequitur.
My friend carried a sign saying “Keep Obamacare.” The angry man yelled “Obamacare! Get your hands out of my pockets! You just want to get your hands in my pockets!”
I could have mentioned that his pockets were the next-to-last place that I wanted to put my hands, but I didn’t.
Generally speaking, the Trump side of the street yelled about “taking”: “You’re takers, we’re makers!” “Get off your butts and get a job!” “You don’t have jobs and you just want to take what we have!” “Communists and socialists!”
The other theme was The Wall. “Build the Wall!” “Build it higher!”
Another angry man walked down the street, yelling at protestors: “Mexico’s southern border is with Guatemala, and there’s a fence along the entire border! Don’t you know that? DON’T YOU KNOW THAT? YOU DIDN’T KNOW THAT!”
If rationality, rather than emotion, mattered in a presidential election, it might have made sense to yell back “Snopes.com!” Checking Snopes.com is an easy way to find out that this meme is complete hogwash. But it's emotionally appealing, I guess.
There were angry people on both sides, I'm sure. I'm just reporting on the angry people who yelled at me.
What does America looks like?
Across from the entrance to the fairgrounds, there was a call and response: “Tell me what America looks like!” “This is what America looks like!” Latinos and Native Americans stood in that group, as their signs and t-shirts indicated.
The “makers” in the Lynden area include migrant farmworkers. Without them, Whatcom County's berry crops would rot in the fields. I did not see them in line to hear Mr. Trump.
The City of Bellevue police bike corps periodically performed synchronized bike swoops out into the street, like an exultation of starlings. Fun to watch.
A waste of time?
The world probably did not change because my friend and I stood by the side of a street with signs. But I can't agree with those who are saying "Don't waste time on Trump." Pretending that Mr.Trump is not a factor in this country's political life has not worked very well so far.
The right of both sides to assemble peacefully shows what is great about America and why we need to keep America great. That's not a great slogan for a visor cap, but it's why I'm glad that I went.
(I forgot my phone. Thanks to my friend Kathryn for the photos.)