Imagine a bright, breezy day at the beginning of July. Jazz notes slid through the air like fingers across a keyboard. Music lovers relaxed in their lawn chairs or sprawled on blankets. Then the rumbling began, the sound of a small plane moving into view above the Old Capitol’s golden dome. Behind the plane a banner trailed, and as festival goers saw the banner, a chuckle arose from the crowd.
Johnson County, Iowa, is a Democratic bastion. As home to the University of Iowa, the surrounding community advocates for and votes for progressive principles. The jazz festival, held annually in downtown Iowa City and on the university campus, is just one aspect of the community’s support for the arts and inclusive values. Many of the festival attendees, perhaps most, would describe themselves as Democrats, liberals, or progressives.
The plane circled the area several times before disappearing, and we laughed. The banner trailing the airplane said, “IOWANS FOR TRUMP”. What a waste of money, Jim and I thought, useless to try to drum up fans in Iowa City. And we assumed Trump’s campaign would disappear nearly as fast.
In August while visiting our son, we recounted the story to him. “It’s not funny, Mom,” he said. “Imagine if he were my commander in chief!” And yes, the idea of Trump’s candidacy became much less funny. Still, we thought it would end swiftly, mercifully, by Iowa’s caucus on February 1.
In the intervening months, Trump has proved himself to be a bigot, a misogynist, a serial liar, and a bully. From a psychological standpoint, likely he is a narcissist, too, though I’m not qualified to make that diagnosis. This week he failed to disavow the support of white supremacists. Later he claimed that his earpiece for the interview didn’t work well. However it worked well enough for him to say David Duke’s name. Clearly he heard that, and that he was being asked about Duke’s support.
The Washington Post wrote about Trump’s white supremacist connections: “The overtly racist stuff is supposed to be a political loser and radioactive to mainstream Republicans. What is not usual is that same cast of racist characters and organizations feeling at home and well represented at the very apotheosis of Republican Party politics, in the campaign of the prohibitive front-runner for the party’s presidential nomination.”
Whether or not Trump welcomes the attention from the nazi fringe, he has attracted it. That in itself shows what kind of person he is. And it shows the type of people willing to support him. Even if they themselves don’t hold to the fringe beliefs, they cheer on the man whose views invite them.
We are not laughing anymore, and have not for many months. Trump is a danger to our country. The only laughter I can manage is for John Oliver, with his recent take-down of Trump. It’s about 20 minutes, but worth your time.