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Three weeks out from the first votes of the 2016 presidential election, Republican front-runner Donald Trump is better-positioned than ever to win his party’s nomination.
Dismissed as little more than a sideshow just a few months ago, the long-predicted Trump collapse has failed to materialize, and political professionals increasingly view Trump as a possible, perhaps even likely, general election candidate.
The magnate attributes his success to support from a “silent majority,” but Trump backers are neither.
Earlier this week, fed up with Trump’s hateful rhetoric, I traveled to Lowell, MA to protest at a Trump rally.
What I saw horrified me. The crowd packed into the Tsongas Center at UMass Lowell resembled nothing so much as a physical manifestation of blinding rage.
Generally speaking, people waiting to enter a political rally are happy and excited, eager to see their favorite candidate. But from the moment I encountered them, Trump supporters seemed to wear a permanent scowl, trading dim-witted barbs about “libtards” and other enemies.
Countless numbers wore shirts attacking Hillary Clinton, often reading “Hillary for Prison 2016.”
Once inside, as we waited for the rally to begin, an announcement played over the PA asking rally attendees to refrain from attacking people who disagreed with Trump. Folks around me laughed menacingly, and remarked that the Trump campaign was asking too much.
But I had no idea what I was in for when a few minutes into Trump’s rambling speech, I held up a sign reading “America’s Already Great.”
It didn’t take long for the glowering people around me to take issue with my sign. A nasal voice behind me told me to put down my sign or else.
I turned to ask the voice’s source, a balding, fat man older than my father, if he disagreed with my sign—which again, contended that America is already a great country.
“You think America’s not great?” I asked. “You think I should hurt you?” he responded.
WATCH: Trump supporters rip up sign of Kiernan Majerus-Collins and friend at Lowell, MA rally.
Things went downhill from there.
Another man, who could have been the goatee-clad brother of my first critic, told me “You’re at a Trump rally? Ditch those,” referring to my sign. “Do you disagree with this?” I shot back. “Yeah. Ditch ’em,” he responded, and at that moment, both of the men grabbed for my sign and tore it up.
The crowd around me began to loudly call for my removal, which was shortly accomplished (although not before the first man hit me on the head and tried to grab me).
The next day, a video of the encounter shot by a friend of mine who’d accompanied me, went viral, and in the days since I’ve become even more familiar with the special brand of thuggery and intimidation Trump’s supporters practice.
My family and I received death threats, and messages poured in calling me every name in the book (although typically, the names were misspelled).
If this was an isolated incident, it would be awful, but it wouldn’t have any greater meaning.
But I’m sad to say my experience is part of a pattern.
Trump is running a campaign fueled by the anger of poorly educated, racist white people, the kind of people who love to criticize “PC culture,” but became offended to the point of violence when I held a sign asserting that ours is a great country.
And as Trump soars in the polls, these people are becoming emboldened. The billionaire blowhard has convinced millions of Americans that not only is their bigoted hatred of Mexicans, Muslims, African-Americans and others justified, but that it is the key to making America “great again,” as if it wasn’t great already.
It’s possible that Trump’s fall, so long awaited, will finally come. I certainly hope so. But Trump’s political demise will not undo the damage he has done to our politics, or to America’s reputation in the world.
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Cover Photo Credit: Kiernan Majerus-Collins/ Facebook