Donald Trump. Razzie and I checked out the Trump Rally Thing in Albuquerque. Enough said. For now. That’s just a framing exposition thing for the rest of this article.
This was initially an article I loosely fleshed out on my Facebook page because there is no better way to go tell the internet about moral outrage than posting to the 23 people I call friends on Facebook.
Truth told, I just wanted to get down my thoughts from the day of Trumpiness in Downtown Albuquerque and Facebook is an easy place to archive this kind of stuff for later exploration. Not only my thoughts, though. Also my observations and emotions. The three are intimately intertwined and you can’t tug on one without tightened the wrap around the others.
I realized in revising this article that there were two additional things I wanted to share related to how the rally was organized and why I feel as I do about Donald Trump as a presidential candidate. These two additional factors don’t really fit with the original article so I’ve created two appendices:
APPENDIX A: Why Trump is Not the Candidate I’m Voting For
APPENDIX B: The Stuff You Learn as a Clown
So here is the final draft which is an expansion of that original Facebook blurb. With appendices. With pictures.
May 24, 2016 – Albuquerque, NM
Today, Razzie and I went Downtown to check out the Trump demonstration. As someone who deals with the symptoms of bipolar, there are statements Trump has made about behavioral health that harken back to Vitalogy and “degenerates” that trouble me greatly (Appendix A). I don’t believe he will make a good president.
When I attend these things, whether as an observer or participant (I was a bit of both today – Appendix B), I like to talk to people holding different signs advertising different grievances. Racism was the big winner today, with Dine, Mexicans, and Spanish being the most represented. There was a young man with a “Hug A Mexican” placard. I got two hugs. He was way cool and embodies everything good in effective political demonstrations.
Planned parenthood, sexual preference, woman’s groups… Trump has angered a lot of people.
So, as most of you know, the welfare of mental health peers is a life passion for me, and I was very interested to see if there were any other peers walking around Downtown. I talked to others. Many others. I didn’t find a one.
For the most part, mental health issues were met with the questioning stares that can fathom no greater question than “Um… what?” One person did ask me, seeing as I’m “mentally ill”, how often the “po po” beat me up. Ignorance is golden. You gotta love that golden ignorance (the answer is never, which is the reality of the peer experience regardless of what sensationalized, fabricated “police brutality” share-n-scare media peddlers imply about APD encounters with mental health peers).
There were many grievances on parade, but like so many of these “peaceful demonstrations”, the message first gets melded and then gets lost in a mob moral outrage that has nothing to do with the original, disparate grievances. Invariably, these things turn to a simple, intellectually stunted sloganizing. This afternoon, the rallying slogan was “Fuck Trump!”
That Trump spews his own litany of hate sloganizing is inarguable. Just check out the phone cam footage on YouTube. But how is “Fuck Trump” any different?
And how is Trump’s ignorance any different than the conversation I had with a woman who, when I asked her why she thought Trump was racist, replied “Look at everyone here. They all know he’s racist just like me!”
And how is it acceptable when I approached a woman “infiltrating” the Trump protestors with her sign “America Needs Trump!” and pointed out to her the faces of many people experiencing homelessness along the parade route, she said to me, “They’re a huge part of the problem!”
And where’s the defensible logic in the man who proudly held the simple(minded) placard “FUCK TRUMP!!!!!” who when I asked “Isn’t ‘FUCK TRUMP’ a hateful thing to say, and how is it any different than the shit Trump spews?” growled the answer “Well, those Trump fuckers started it, not us!”
There was sloganizing in many forms. From chants in Spanish to Call-Reply boot camp mc’ing. I watched. I listened. Like watching “the wave” at a Broncos game, the oncoming swell of “Fuck Trump” unified. Then water was tossed at Trump suppoters. And then water bottles were thrown. And then a young man we talked to throughout the afternoon starting shouting “Fuck Trump!” in unison with the crowd walking the circuit from Convention Center, down Central and back. And that was time to leave.
I learned what I needed to know.
1.) Behavioral health is not a priority or even a consideration with Trump supporters or Trump protesters.
2.) Ignorance and groupthink knows no barriers.
3.) Mob moral outrage immediately follows the willing sacrifice of individualism in demonstrations. Both inside and outside the Convention Center.
I’ve seen this sort of thing so many times. The message gets lost. Unrelated anger finds its coat tails (Donald Trump and Susanna Martinez Must Go!). Almost default misconceptions of the police as adversaries is whispered amongst the crowds as “pepper spray” and “the police shoot everyone” as a priming malcontent, setting the stage for justifiable civil unrest to come later.
The sloganizing began, the water bottles flew, the meekest voices grew strong with newly learned rhetoric. It was time to leave.
Behavioral health is not a priority. If it was a thought, it was lost long before the crowd decided it was a good time for Lord of the Flies rules to take the lead.
My hope is one of the dozens of folks I spoke to will look to any person experiencing homelessness we passed in our stroll around Downtown and realize that mental health issues do matter as much as racism, misogyny, and hatred. I hope I gave someone, anyone, who was there to protest Trump or support Trump some useful, real illumination of the peer experience beyond rhetoric and misinformation.
Razzie showed me YouTube vids of what happened an hour or two after we left. I can’t say I’m surprised.
So what’s the moral of the story? It was a lovely day for a walk around Downtown.
APPENDIX A: Why Trump is Not the Candidate I’m Voting For
I’m not voting for Trump as our POTUS, and it’s fair for me to share why I feel as I do about Donald Trump as a political candidate. My issue with Donald Trump is he’s silly, and he chooses to ignore basic critical thinking skills that make for a worthwhile leader.
When in the wake of the two journalists killed on live TV in Virginia he shares with CNN that:
– “This isn’t a gun problem, this is a mental problem. It’s not a question of the laws, it’s really the people”,
and then offers the bizarre historical context of:
– “In the old days they had mental institutions for people like this because he was really, definitely borderline and definitely would have been and should have been institutionalized. At some point somebody should have seen that, I mean the people close to him should have seen it”,
and then offers the odd projected supposition:
– “I guarantee you there are a couple of people that knew this man that did the killing yesterday that probably said, ‘Wow he’s really got problems I mean he really should be institutionalized’”,
as a mental health peer I have to question if some of the pills I take daily might benefit Donald Trump in exploring these basic critical thinking skills necessary for a worthwhile leader. Without my meds, my reasoning skills become suspect as well.
It might be unsavory to liken these observations of Trump’s bizarre utterings to the … interesting … early twentieth century medical text “Vitalogy”, mainly because “Vitalogy” was written in an era of acceptable Social Darwinism (read: eugenics) and it’s too easy to make the intellectually lazy leap of logic that “Trump is Hitler”. That’s a stupid analogy and don’t take my reflections out of context, please.
Still, I can’t help getting that same creepy, itchy feeling I get when reading the section in “Vitalogy” on “degenerates.” Here is an illustrative excerpt:
“DEFECTS OF MEN
In any city or town one has not far to go to find young men with a more or less slouchy gait, low forehead, chin narrow, jaw widening rapidly until it becomes prominent under the ear, eyes near together, and generally restless, receding forehead and chin, back of head almost in line with the back of the neck ; etc. Such a man, even though of pleasing address, will prove to be cruel, selfish, heartless, liable to fail in business or commit some crime, if a workman, likely to engage in strikes and frequently out of work.
They are degenerates in whom the natural mental qualities are illy developed and who are sadly deficient in that most important of all qualities, self-control. They are like an engine without a safety-valve or balance wheel. They may run all right for a time, but trouble is sure to come before long.
So it is with the degenerate. He may make a fairly good appearance for a time, but it is not in him to do well. He, too, will cause trouble. To a careful observer, the signs of degeneracy are always apparent, and such persons should be shunned for companions […]”
“Vitalogy” was originally published in 1903. Perhaps these are the “old days” Trump cites with such uncritical fondness.
I’m a solutions guy. So, what can Donald Trump do to win my vote?
1.) Don’t shoot handsome actor James Woods in the face.
2.) Eat more dietary fiber, like the 11% of your daily recommended allowance you get in every serving of Cheerios.
3.) Require Trump to give the PSA “Mental Illness Does Not Equal Violence” before every public appearance. This might suffice in lieu of his underdeveloped critical thinking skills, if only to bolster his credibility amongst peers very marginally.
That’s about it. I’m probably going to vote for my Dad as POTUS for the third election in a row. Peace out.
APPENDIX B: The Stuff You Learn as a Clown
I like Mark Twain. I like the way he writes. I like what he writes about. And mostly, I like how every word he wrote speaks to one thing:
There’s always a fun story about how you got to be where you weren’t intending to go.
Tuesday afternoon was Twainian. That’s looks like Taiwan. What I’m saying is Tuesday afternoon I was plugging away at some php formatting when Razzie got a text from a friend. The text asked “Want to make $25 an hour ‘clowning’ at the Trump rally?” I had no intent of being at the Trump rally, and when Razzie explained that the New Mexico Film Industry (I think I have the name of the outfit right) was paying for recruits to dress as clowns and taunt Trump supporters entering the Albuquerque Convention Center, so many of my greatest needs were being met that there was no way I couldn’t slap on the Umbros and jet Downtown.
Here’s what needs of mine were being met:
1.) I love taunting people. It’s a mild form of sadism. I’m working it out in therapy.
2.) I love watching people, and I love observing group dynamics evolve, devolve, and transform.
3.) I love talking to people, particularly people with passion.
4.) I love being able to talk to people in Ninja mode, meaning they don’t see me coming and don’t remember me leaving.
5.) I love “testing the waters” to determine how folks feel about mental health as a community priority.
6.) I love, just adore, collecting information by poking at people and gauging their reactions.
So, Razzie and I jetted Downtown where she was told to find the New Mexico Film van on Tijeras, where we would meet someone or someone or someone for “clowning.” As it happens, “clowning” meant dolling up in clown drag to solicit the social commentary of “If you support Donald Trump, you are a clown.” Clever. No, cleverish. Not full on clever by any stretch.
How perfect for Need #4. I was wondering how to disguise myself because I didn’t really want to be seen as a Trump protestor, but I am passionate about mental health advocacy and cozying up with a collective like the Trump protesters was just too superb of an opportunity to gather information to pass up. Clown makeup. C’est parfait. And how non-threatening, talking to a clown. Just perfect.
The girl we met at the NM Film van asked if we were willing to go “full clown.” Dude. Yes. And she was the ideal person to poke first.
Here’s Razzie going full clown at the hands of the makeup girl:
While sitting in the makeup chair during my turn of going full clown, I asked her “So just how annoying do you want us clowns to be? At $25 an hour you must have some expectations.”
“Be aware the po-po has pepper spray. But the more we get the better for our cause.”
Red flag #1: Po-po and pepper spray. What did this mean to me? The makeup girl at the NM Film van already had in mind that the police were the enemy and we clowns needed to be aware and vigilant in our clowning. That didn’t sound very clown-like.
Red flag #2: And “The Cause”? The Underground Railroad was a cause. Reuniting the Beatles was a cause. Heck, even driving to Payson, Arizona, to get to the closest In N Out Burger to Albuquerque is a cause.
Dressing up as a clown to taunt Trump supporters is not a cause. It’s barely a subplot to a Mexican soap opera.
My reply (more poking):
“Thanks for the heads up. So what’s our agenda? Where should we meet, and what’s on the schedule?”
“Head down Tijeras, but don’t go straight to Civic Plaza. You don’t want to get caught before you can get to the protest.”
Red flag #2: “Get caught before we can get to the protest”? Get caught doing what? Walking down the street in clown makeup? Even at my most non-medicated paranoid, I would alot not much of my precious reserves of paranoia towards fear of being picked up for public clowning.
If Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley can play bad music and get away with public clown makeup for four decades, an afternoon stroll in Albuquerque hardly seems like a threatening event. Thinking about it now, I needed a bad ass guitar. Bummer.
My reply (more poking):
“Wow. Sounds pretty intense. How much mischief can we help with?”
Her reply (leaning in closer not to touch up makeup but to check for the ‘secret handshake’ was my retrospective thought):
“So you’re going in to the Convention Center tonight? We can use everyone we can get.”
Red flag majoris #1: I won’t tiptoe around this one or make any flippant remarks. This was my interpretation of what she just said.
There was already a premeditated plan in place that the makeup girl in the NM Film van knew about involving entering the Convention Center later that night.
“That sounds good. What are we going to do? Do we have any other groups who will be helping?”
“You don’t know the gameplan yet?”
Red flag majoris #2: She referred to entering the Convention Center as a “gameplan.”
“I haven’t been sworn in yet. What should I do?”
“Never mind. Just look for the other clowns.”
So ended that bit of poking.
Here we are on the NM Film van, all clowned up.
Newly clowned up, Razzie and I headed down Tijeras, but not directly to Civic Plaza as we had been advised. Honestly, I didn’t see any reason not to head directly through Civic Plaza. It was crowded with folks and that was about it.
We found the other clowns with their banner on 2nd, just north of Tijeras. They were thrilled to see more clowns. Clowns are like that, I suppose. I’m usually only thrilled at seeing young, buxom, and nubile Irish gingers wearing “Steve Bringe Cribbage Club” t-shirts.
Here are our fellow clowns we met across from the Convention Center:
That dude totally bogarted the rainbow mohawk. Being a bald dude, I dream of having styling bad ass hair like a rainbow mohawk. Instead, I looked like Richard Simmons on Pride Day. Not that that’s a bad thing, it’s just Richard Simmons is so not bad ass.
And here is their clown banner:
I’ve already made clear why I was at the rally and what I hoped to learn from the participants. Personally, that was disappointing, but that isn’t the purpose of Appendix B.
At this point I’m going to completely depart from any goofy banter because at this point there are some important details to share about the rally and how it wasn’t as spontaneously spirited as it appeared by my reckoning.
1.) First off, right from the start I told Razzie things would get heated, and that it will be contrived and orchestrated. I’ve seen these sorts of rallies many times, I’ve been in the midst of these sorts of rallies many times, and that the makeup girl had prescience that the Convention Center would be entered that night all but confirmed my suppositions.
2.) I told Rasma there would come a time where I would be leaving Downtown, and I would ask her to leave with me. We had planned ahead of time that we’d meet outside the FAC if we got separated for any reason.
3.) I had many conversations with people in the parade/march. Here are some of the more telling comments made:
- I asked a young man carrying the simple sign “Fuck Trump!” if he knew what was going on in the Convention Center later, because the security was pretty tight from what I saw. His answer was, “Don’t worry. Trump can’t keep us out. My people are really great at climbing walls.”
- One of the clowns we met at Civic Plaza asked if she could “Count on us later for the Convention Center.” There was no explanation of what this meant from her.
- There were a number of people carrying “Fuck Trump!” signs spread individually throughout the crowd which all appeared to be in the same handwriting.
- Watching the protesters, on the third circuit around Downtown, any time there was a specialized vocal rallying call from a specific area, there were individuals who would enter into that area and start yelling “Fuck Trump!” over their specialized rallying call.
- There was a woman with a placard reading “Trump IS America!” who shared with me she was there to “get the crowd going” and wasn’t really a Trump supporter.
- There was a woman with a placard reading “Trump 2016” who shared she was being paid to walk in the parade/march with the sign.
- Countless people I spoke with shared they were being paid like I was to protest at the rally. They were recruited through Facebook and texts, often from people they didn’t know “but were friends with their friends.”
- Two of the more vocal protestors near me were actively recruiting protestors to “get ready for the big stuff” at the Convention Center later.
- The warning “cover your eyes because APD likes using pepper spray” was a common statement starting before the parade/march, and all throughout the parade/march. I first heard it from the makeup girl at the NM Film van.
- Razzie and I made three circuits of the parade/march route before leaving. I observed that the number of Trump supporters grew with each circuit, and that in several places at about the same time I saw Trump protestors spray water from drinking water bottles at the larger groupings of Trump supporters. Water bottles were then thrown by protestors and these Trump supporters almost immediately (this is when Razzie and I left).
- Before leaving, a man asked me where I was going, and that if I stuck around and met him later he’d show me a way to get on top of the Convention Center.
Here we are, two clowns in judicious retreat from the nonsense:
I want to make a few things absolutely clear before closing this off.
1.) There was no indication that NM Film had any knowledge of what was going to happen at the Convention Center later. It was only the makeup girl who made any comments alluding to this.
2.) Razzie and I were paid via PayPal for two hours of clowning in the amount of $50 each in one payment of $100 to my PayPal account.
3.) There was no indication that Rasma’s friend who recruited us had any knowledge of what was going to happen at the Convention Center later.
4.) Before leaving Downtown, Razzie and I returned our clown costume items to the NM Film van and removed our makeup with wet wipes given to us by the makeup girl. I asked again if we could be any help at the Convention Center later, and what we could expect, which was met with silence from her.
Now, I’ll offer my personal opinion based upon my conversations with others at the rally and what I personally observed during the rally:
What occurred at the Convention Center after Razzie and I left was contrived and incited by a number of people involved with several of the protester groups at the rally, and it was planned and coordinated well in advance of Tuesday.
Again, this is my personal opinion and this opinion is based upon my personal interactions with people at the rally and what I observed happening at the rally.
I like talking to people. I like poking at people to gauge their reactions. I like gathering information.
I don’t like what happened Tuesday night. That sucked and the people who engineered it suck worse.
That’s the fun story of how Razzie and I ended up where we didn’t intend to go on Tuesday. Cool story, great to tell the grandkids to show we were once as cool as they are. Peace out.