The Bonus Book of the Week is “Liar’s Circus, A Strange and Terrifying Journey Into the Upside-Down World of Trump’s MAGA Rallies” by Carl Hoffman, published in 2020.
Beginning in October 2019, the author attended several rallies held by president Donald Trump. Anyone can reserve online tickets, which are unlimited, regardless of venue size. The author started with Minneapolis–the president’s four hundredth rally since June 2015.
The author spent hours or days driving around the Midwest, South, Deep South, and the Northeast to the different venues. When he finally arrived, he stood in a queue for hours and hours, and at later rallies, two days (but got off the queue at intervals) before he was allowed, hours early, into the stands, or the front-row railing (which was more of a participatory location). At St. Louis, Trump bragged about the size of the crowd. However, in October 2008, then-presidential candidate Obama attracted about one hundred thousand people, “…more than have ever attended a Trump rally, it’s worth noting.”
The author spent a significant chunk of time talking with attendees at these extravaganzas. He found out who they were. Most were the kind of people who would automatically believe some tabloid garbage on the idiot box about, for instance, a book with which the Republicans were less than thrilled. They would then parrot what they’d heard, without having read a word of the book. Most have never read a book in their lives. Some were star-struck social climbers.
One specific kind of Trump supporter was a man who was seeking a savior who would make it socially acceptable for him to blame all his troubles on his political enemies. Another kind was a total Goldwater Republican (once and always a Republican) who would vote for anyone who let his greed go hog-wild through deregulation.
Yet a third kind was neither an aggrieved victim nor greedy but was doing fine economically– wasn’t selling anything; who simply wanted to see what all the fuss was about, and had nothing better to do than meet some people. And of course, who wanted to meet the president.
The author got friendly with this third kind. For, they were familiar faces at consecutive rallies. Like the premise of the TV show Cheers people want to go “… where everybody knows your name and they’re always glad you came.”
There were a handful of non-Caucasian people, and Jews at every rally. They were shown prominently on-camera– to deceive viewers into thinking there were lots of them– though there were tens of thousands of white people surrounding them. Every rally had the same agenda, which included (but were not limited to) songs from the Village People– a 1970’s music group with a reputation for diversity. Ironically.
Every rally’s atmosphere was reminiscent of an American church, “… but instead of the peril of losing our souls to Satan, the peril was the Democrats, and the demons were the news media, immigrants and Muslims.”
At every rally, the author heard Trump trot out the same false statements. One was, that he would keep Medicare forever but the “Social Democrats” wanted to completely eliminate it. Further, while his administration was litigating to get rid of the provision under which preexisting conditions are covered by national health insurance, he claimed he would keep that provision forever, and grabbed credit for coming up with it. But it was actually a provision in the original Affordable Care Act. Just like the late president Reagan, Trump was saying one thing and doing another.
Read the book to learn much more about the personal experiences of the author on his quest to understand Trump supporters. And along these lines, here’s a parody of what Trump supporters would say about themselves:
sung to the tune of “Allentown” with apologies to Billy Joel.
Well, we’re living here in Rallytown.
And Trump has got his routine down.
At the stadium we’re having a time,
making new friends, standing in line.
Well, our fathers fought the Vietnam war.
They were patriotic to the core.
And our 401(k)s at an all-time high.
Under the Dems, we were just getting by.
And we’re living here in Rallytown.
It’s the liberals who put us down.
But Trump makes everything okay.
Well, we’re waiting here in Rallytown,
for we think that Trump deserves a crown.
All the promises he makes he keeps:
taxes, the Wall– take that, liberal creeps!
He’s actually going to build the Wall,
and create new jobs for us all.
His economic plans are really real!
Oil, factories, coal– Bleep Green New Deal!
And we’re waiting here in Rallytown.
Democrats bring our cities down.
And they’re taking all our guns away…
Every time Trump tweets another thing,
the media launch another “gotcha” or sting.
They’re sore losers from 2016.
They took away our American dream.
Well, we’re winning here in Rallytown.
And no one will ever keep Trump down.
I can’t wait to worship Trump today…
And Trump makes everything okay.
And we’re living here in Rallytown.