• Daniel Ethan Finneran

Trump Fans Still Standing On The Corner

December 2020

So far as I can tell, the average resident of South Florida, whether she be of distant birth or native rearing, autochthonous to this peculiar state or recently arrived, tolerates very poorly, and endures very gracelessly, the slightest downward shift in the weather. Its smallest climatic dip, as brought about by an early December’s chilly surprise, marks a change at which, with cool contempt, those situated in more northerly climes understandably sneer.

Having once lived among them, and shivered with them, I can feel their contempt. They direct it southward as we Floridians, bundled in our strange assortment of jackets, yoga pants, sunglasses, and flip-flops, collectively suffer. What those hardy people residing in northern latitudes consider a fresh, invigorating late-spring day’s afternoon, we here in Florida perceive to be nothing short of a frigorific descent into a hell-scape of ice.

So mundane an observation, of course, has no claim to be shocking. The fact that Floridians quite passionately dislike the cold weather isn’t the type of explosive revelation by which the young anthropologist’s career will be launched, nor the kind of remarkable finding by which the anxious environmentalist’s curiosity will be piqued. The eager journalist won’t soon deign to note it in the pad through which he flips, nor will the old historian add it to the countless books by which his shelves are weighed. Indeed, the fact that Floridians regard as completely intolerable any temperature less than seventy-five degrees is as universally-acknowledged a truth as a cat’s violent detestation of water, or an elephant’s crippling fear when confronted with a mouse. If only the two could, in a temporary escape from the ancient chains of their respective maxims, switch places and face the troubles by which the other is vexed: how well would the feline eat, and how exuberantly might the elephant bathe behind the ears.

It’s during these trying and inhospitable times, when the state is burdened by obstinate clouds and less than sixty degrees, that most Floridians retreat to the warmth of their poorly-insulated houses. Hurricanes and floods, the majority of these buildings can handle, but not the gentle intrusion of an unfamiliar frost. There, behind these walls, as if groundhogs unequal to challenge of a brisk winter’s day, we Floridians await the re-emergence of the sun. From our weather-proof lanais and firmly-clamped windows, we cast longing glances toward that ever-sociable star, that great ball of gas beneath whose constant radiance and undying attention, we hope, in the very near future, to resume our outdoor activities and play. For now, though, we’ll simply sit by an imagined fireside with a steamed beverage in hand, counting the increase of the temperature as we hasten the passage of the days.

This, at least, is the normal conduct of an average Floridian who might find himself caught, as if an animal removed from the element to which he naturally belongs, in the unexpected embrace of the cold. Indeed, it’s the posture I’ve shamefacedly adopted. It’s for this reason that I’m so utterly shocked, night after night and irrespective of the recent decline of the weather, to see a group of a dozen or more people, massed on a very busy street corner in a very busy town, dancing to the blast of music and singing in support of their favorite politician, the fallen incumbent, the Republican standard-bearer, Donald J. Trump.

These people, bundled in jackets but simmering with verve, wrapped in scarves but bursting with heat, display an enthusiasm that not only hasn’t abated since the results of the election were announced, but actually seems to have grown. Flanked by two roads down which, at their most cautious, motorists speed at a minimum of fifty miles per hour, these people play loud music, dance in half-studied coordination, and brandish spectacularly hand-made signs. As for the music, the YMCA has recently yielded to Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, and the Rocky theme to the snowman Frosty. This, as the vivacity of the disco prepares for the arrival of Noel, and people surfeit themselves with holiday cheer. Either way, be the tune secular or religious, festive or fun, everyone’s hips are shaking.

The signs beneath which they gyrate and groove, of which their mitten-clad hands are full, by which a curious drivers’ eyes are involuntarily allured, are fantastically diverse. On them, while waiting with no great hurry the changing of the light, or the divine opportunity to execute a right-turn “on red”, one might read such messages as “Women for Trump”; “Latinos for Trump”; “Cuban-Americans for Trump”; “Hispanics for Trump”; “CNN Sucks”; “Four More Years”; “Don’t Trust the Fake News”, etc. Above them, “Trump-Pence” and “Make America Great Again” flags are whipped into action by the constant stimulus of this beach town’s wind.

These intersection revelries, these roadside parties of which even the most unwaveringly focused driver can’t fail to take note, began as soon as the results of the presidential election appeared to be moving away from the conclusion for which they’d hoped. The temperature was then warm, much like their ebullient spirits, but, since that time, as the former’s waned, the latter has grown.

As the cold weather descended, I expected these people to pull down their flags, pack up their signs, turn off their music, and desist from further exhausting themselves with fruitless limb-thrusting and desultory dance. I thought they’d instantly reveal themselves to be what a true sportsman most dislikes: “fair-weather” fans, summer soldiers, a group of bandwagon riders from whom loyalty is never assured. I expected them, the moment the discomfort of the weather urged them otherwise, to abandon a candidate by whom, as a consequence of his many indiscretions and painful shortcomings, they were so deeply disappointed, and an electoral system in which they no longer had faith.

By all evidence, they’ve opted to proceed in doing one of these two things. As is clear from their continued and increasingly animated presence, they’ve lost none of their infatuation for and worship of the president whose term is promptly set to expire. What they’ve done, rather, is reject the system by which that man, their champion, was so unmistakably cheated. They’ve retained their love, and likely forever will, of that ever-peculiar President Trump, the man against whom, in their mind, the whole game was rigged.

Like us, they’ve undoubtedly heard the allegations by which the aforementioned idea, that the election was stolen, has been enflamed. Unlike us, I fear, they’ve blinded themselves to the paucity of evidence with which, thus far, they have to work.

In each of this year’s most contentious states, those in the Midwest and South, those by whose incredibly thin vote margins, the forty-sixth president was ultimately decided, accusations have been levied of chicanery, deception, and every variety of fraud. The machines by which the ballots were processed are said to have been rigged, and the people by whom said computers are operated are accused of the highest treasons and the most underhanded crimes. Guile, untrustworthiness, disdain for our suffrage, and disregard for our laws don’t even begin to exhaust the charges to which those looking with suspicion expect an answer.

Such is the case in Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Georgia, in which litigation is, at the time of this writing, yet ongoing. Proof of the improprieties of which these states and their workers are said to be guilty hasn’t yet been revealed. If it exists, we must admit that it’s terribly shy. All the while, Democrat leaders and the sycophantic media by whom they’re rather disgustingly massaged have given reason for those inclined toward conspiracy theories to view them with an eyebrow raised and a posture of practiced disbelief.

And so, they’ve taken this disbelief to the streets. It’s difficult to see, however, the thin line by which delusion, on the one hand, and enthusiasm on the other, are separated. In one sense, that this diverse coalition of Republican voters (young, old, Latino, female, and Caucasian) is demonstrating so high, so genuine, and so indomitable an amount of energy is encouraging.

It shows, if only through the window of a small subset along a busy street, the kind of excitement on which a renewed, Trumpified Republican Party can depend. This, of course, is itself dependent on the Party’s ability further to cultivate this zeal and make contagious that which was never previously felt.

Alternatively, it might show a quixotic group of people misguided by their political fantasies (with President Trump playing the role of the homely Dulcinea). It might be a growing population upon whom the weight of reality simply can’t be impressed, by whom all references to rationality will be, save those with which their opinions already accord, rejected. Beneath the levity of their spirits, and the slogans on their signs, this could a people uniquely pervious to the wiles of propaganda and susceptible to the hair-raising rhetoric of the demagogue.

Seated at this light, I know not which is the direction down which these entertaining people will go. All I know is that they must be crazy to be out in this weather.

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