We have been visiting with Lucia’s sister in western Minnesota. She told us about the “Trump rally” next door in Fargo, North Dakota (Summer, 2018). We needed to get our van worked on at the Toyota dealership in Fargo, so we made it a twofer.
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The event was free for anyone though they asked attenders to order their tickets through their mobile phones. They gave away two passes per phone number, so we ordered six, using three phones.
Ironically, as we entered the building, I could not find anyone to give my tickets. I asked a police officer, but he did not know about tickets, so he directed me to a staffer. I asked that lady, who said, “we don’t want those.” I followed up with a “what was the ticket thing all about” to which she said it was for tracking purposes.
They used the “ticket process” as part of their security measures, which I did appreciate. With all the hostility toward President Trump, it was not a small concern to be near him, never knowing what some “Trump hater” may do.
They scheduled the President for 7 PM. We finished with Toyota at 2, so we thought we’d drive by Scheels Arena to see if there was any action. Oh, my. By 2:30 when we arrived, they had already wrapped the parking lot. Though we could not tell how many people there were, it turned out to be over 5000 in line, 4.5 hours before the event started.
They only permitted 6000 in the building, and we were the last 500 to get in. If we had arrived at 3 PM, we would not have made it inside the building. Our original plan was to drive by to check out things and then come back at 4 to get in line. It was apparent that our plan was not a good one. So we parked and got in line with the swelling multitude.
There were so many cars and people it was a challenge to find the end of the line. Eventually, we made it, met our new buddies for the next four hours and stood in the ninety-degree North Dakota sun. It was an excellent time for me to edit my forthcoming book. Thank God for large iPads.
Redeeming Parking Lot Time
The vendors were out en masse selling pins, bears, hats, T-shirts, and anything else you could put the President’s face on or a snappy cliche. I chatted with one lady, who happened to be black, from Columbia, South Carolina, which is 90 miles from where I live.
She follows the President around the country, selling her wares and making a good living. Total respect for her. That is the American way. You think of an idea, implement your plan, and make a living. She is doing what I’m doing–making a living. She added that she liked the President’s capitalistic perspectives. She’s doing well.
Noticeably, she was one of only a handful of black folk that I saw but, admittedly, there are not a lot of dark-skinned people in North Dakota, other than Somalians.
They opened the doors at 4 PM, and we snaked around the parking lot for two hours, inching our way toward the entrance. The police of all kinds, plus the Secret Service were everywhere, praise God. There were rows of porta-potties, EMS, and plenty of water. It was well-organized, and everyone was kind.
I talked to a dozen police officers throughout the evening, thanking them for their dedication and care for us during the evening, and for our country. They were pleasant, grateful, and interactive.
The President’s Rally
The building was nearly overflowing by the time we made it through the doors. I was glad to be part of the 6000 but sad for the thousands that could not make it. For us, it was a historical event for my children to see the President of the United States. They perceived the magnitude of the moment and were grateful to be there.
There were a few preliminary speakers before the President came out at 7 PM. The music was loud and eclectic. They played classic rock tunes, country songs, and one operatic classic. The “wave” started spontaneously, as the crowd was in hyper-mode to see the President.
When the President came from behind the giant flag draped at the back of the stage, it was deafening. He strolled, swaggered, pointed, clapped, and soaked in every moment as he made his way to the podium. The man knows how to enter a room. And with “I’m Proud to Be an American” blaring to a bunch of white folks, it could not have been more raucous.
The President was everything you’d expect. He knows how to “work a crowd,” push all the right buttons and entertain an audience. Politics aside, he’s an excellent entertainer. I did tell a friend on Facebook that I’m glad I taught my children a few curse words because our President has no inhibition about dropping them.
President Trump spoke for an hour, which he could have said all that he needed to say in thirty minutes, but the crowd was so positively reactive, that he had to stop many times because the people were clapping, chanting, and hollering.
We hung out about an hour after the event was over so we could get some pics at the stage. I also wanted to see the whole process, i.e., breaking things down, packing up, interviews, and an opportunity to interact with folks who were milling around like me.
A Few Instructive Thoughts
- Our President governs conservatively, which has been a pleasant surprise. There was a lot of tension over who would be better for our country before his election.
- He is an entertainer, who loves the spotlight. It is one big ego trip for him as he is the center of attention. In the entire world.
- He knows how to “work a group” of people. He’s good at what he does, which partially explains why he says some of the outlandish things that he says; he’s riffing for the crowd. The downside is that everything he says comes under scrutiny as his enemies dissect it and disseminate it for their purposes.
- The rhetoric is part of who he is. It’s not appropriate, but it comes with the package, and nobody is going to change him.
- Leadership is a massive stewardship issue. It does not matter if you’re leading one person, a family, or a nation. There is a responsibility on you to lead well. Leaders have followers because the followers want to follow the leader.
- It’s imperative for leaders to understand the influence they have on individuals. If you disparage others, some of the followers will emulate that kind of self-righteous arrogance. Careful communication is a critical quality for leaders because of the potential adverse impact it can have on their constituency, as well as those who dislike the leader.
- President Trump seems to enjoy mocking his opponents. And though many of his opponents have a few ungodly agendas, he does not help matters with his communication style. He is a provocateur.
- There is no question that he has struck a chord with many Americans. The incrementalization of the destruction of the moral fabric of our country during my lifetime has created a visceral reaction from conservative Americans.
- President Trump is tapping into this pent-up unrest (and fear) that many Americans have been feeling for decades. You perceive this low-grade anger, frustration, hostility, retaliation, and ridicule from the conservative right, which is why it’s imperative for the leader of these people to steward the opportunity well. Of course, that is not going to happen.
- Our hope and faith are not in our country, and the good news is the massive opportunity Christians have to make a difference in how we discourse in the public square. We don’t have to imitate the anger of the right or the left. We have a better picture to emulate.
I’m glad we have a “conservative” President. I don’t care for the package that comes with him. But, then again, I’m an imperfect conservative too. There are a few things about me that are off-putting. My greatest hope, however, is not in my country or my President, but in Christ alone. While my agenda is to impact as many lives as possible with His message. I do hope my President will aid in this cause as he legislates in such a way that gives me the freedom to share my Christ in less restrictive means.
Also published on Medium.