At 7:25 on Saturday morning, President Trump and his fragile ego were having a moment. His first month or so in office has been, at best, tumultuous: the scandal surrounding his campaign's alleged contacts with Russia, his national security adviser stepping down, waves of massive protests over the refugee restrictions, jokes about him on Saturday Night Live, unflattering coverage in the press, polls that show him as the most unpopular new president in modern history.
So, as is his wont, the leader of the free world took to Twitter to whine. "Maybe the millions of people who voted to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN should have their own rally. It would be the biggest of them all!"
Ignoring the obvious rejoinders—dude lost the popular vote by three million, and the D.C. Women's March dwarfed the size of his tiny inaugural crowd—or how unnerving it is that a man who controls a massive nuclear arsenal has such patently glaring psychological issues, there is something to be said for the fact that nearly sixty-three million people voted for Trump, and while the left has been mobilized in opposition since the election, his base hasn't been, which, one could argue, has perhaps skewed our perceptions of the president's popularity.
Trump appears to want to change that.
This week will see two pro-Trump rallies in downtown Raleigh. The first convened on Monday at eleven thirty a.m. The second, "March 4 Trump/Deplorables United," which bills itself as part of a nationwide series of events that day, will gather on noon Saturday at Halifax Mall.
Monday's pro-Trump rally at the State Capitol looked and sounded a lot like what you might expect. Red hats. American flags. Trump posters. And of course, slogan shout-outs. "We are here because we want to make America great again!" a supporter exclaimed. "Do we agree on that?"
Other topics of discussion included socialism, political correctness, Breitbart, the media, praying, and Planned Parenthood. One supporter in a MAGA hat warned the crowd that "on Friday at midnight, all the witches in this country tried to cast a spell on Trump," to which someone interrupted, "Witches have no power over God!"
That was weird.
There was one thing the "Spirit of America" rally didn't have: people.
At its peak, there were maybe fifty people—a sharp contrast with the tens of thousands who descended on downtown Raleigh for the Women's March in January and again for the Moral March in February. By one p.m., the Trump crowd thinned to maybe a dozen people and a lone drummer.
Across the street, a young woman wearing a "Fuck Trump" hat sat on the ground with a "My Grandma didn't fuck an American soldier for this shit!" poster. She'd been asked to sit there, away from the rally, presumably after Trump supporters concluded she wasn't an ally.
Saturday's pro-Trump event will likely draw a larger crowd—and more counterprotesters—if for no other reason than it's on a weekend. As of Monday afternoon, 268 people had posted on the event's Facebook page to say that they would be attending. The event is taking place, Terry Moore, who is identified on the event’s Facebook page as a leader, posted, because "we are here to show the support of the people and by the people for our President. ... Let's support our President and stop the hate!"
Moore did not respond to the INDY's email requesting an interview by press time*. But on Monday night, he posted this: "People the FAKE NEWS reported that our rally would only be a few hundred people strong! Let's blow the roof off in Raleigh N.C. and make Donald J. Trump proud!" We'll see.
Update: After the INDY went to press, organizer Donna Williams told the INDY that rally was planned weeks ago—long before Trump’s weekend tweet—“to show support for our president and the things he’s doing. He’s only been in office for a month, and there’s a lot of negative press as far as, oh, he’s not doing this and this. He’s only been in office a month.”
Williams suggested checking the group’s Facebook page for updates on the event’s speakers, who will be announced soon.