The raucous crowd of more than 12,000 packs into the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Panther Arena, anxiously awaiting the president’s arrival. Most have been waiting outside for several hours on this cold and damp mid-January day, a brisk wind bringing chills as the masses huddle for relief.
They’ve steadily been entering the warmth of the arena since about 2 p.m., with the president arriving at 7 p.m. In the run-up to the start of the event at 5 p.m., the arena is abuzz with activity. Friendships are renewed and started. Networking about conservative events and ideas abound. Warm-up speakers, featuring Sen. Ron Johnson and Vice President Mike Pence deliver their speeches to thunderous applause.
It’s Tuesday, Jan. 14, and I am among the thousands attending President Donald Trump’s rally in Milwaukee. I had the opportunity to volunteer, assuring a place indoors. Volunteers arrived before many, but spent several hours outdoors as the arena was prepped. I was elated to end up seated about 15 rows up right behind the president.
This was the first Trump rally I fully attended, certainly hope for more. I also plead my case to anyone whose ear I caught to encourage a visit to our area, as our region of the state is among the most critical. President Trump will undoubtedly make more visits to the Badger State, widely known as a key battleground for 2020. The Democrats are holding their convention in July in Milwaukee, and it’s certainly not because they want to ride the new trolley.
The feel of the arena was much more that of a sporting venue than political event, but none of the political events I’ve attend over the years had a crowd anywhere near this size. Crowds of that size will naturally have that feel. This wasn’t a refined debate stage, this was to fire up folks who will be spending countless volunteer hours in spreading the president’s message of ongoing economic prosperity, national security and preservation of individual freedoms.
Among the volunteers in my group was a young Latino girl from Chicago invited by the group Latinas for Trump. She left her Chicago home at 5 a.m. for this opportunity.
She told us she had been banned from her high school cultural diversity group because of her conservative views and felt far more welcome among the folks in attendance.
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As much as the left tries to paint all Trump supporters as deplorable, uneducated, feckless and racist rubes, there was a wide diversity to the crowd of attenders. The energy and enthusiasm in the arena was palpable when the president entered. Long breaks for applause were frequent as the president listed some of the accomplishments of the past three years. Record low unemployment, and particularly record low unemployment for specific groups like African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, and Asian-Americans.
Highest consumer confidence in decades. Highest labor force participation rate, fewer Americans on food stamps, and so on.
He also touted the firm reaction to the New Year’s Eve attack on the embassy in Baghdad, with the strong initial response, and in taking out Iran’s chief terrorist in Gen. Qasem Soleimani. There was a tepid response from the Iranians, and thus far, no real ongoing threat of war with Iran. The Middle East remains a complex network of nations, people groups and factions that have been warring on one level or another for centuries. In the simplest of terms, if we reduce our presence in the area, it gives rise to more terrorist networks, but a continued force in the region puts American lives at risk.
Trump was proud of the United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement passed on Nov. 30 replacing the outdated and ineffective North American Free Trade Agreement.
This is real trade reform that will reap benefits for farmers across the nation, including Wisconsin, but little coverage of this historic event was found in the mainstream media.
Trump was also deliberate in his attacks on the mainstream media throughout the event. He also sort of rambled a bit when talking about deregulation, and removing water flow restrictors from appliances, making them more efficient.
It’s in those times Trump ceases to be the “political” Trump, and while not as refined in those moments as many would like, it’s also in those moments that he often connects with ordinary Americans. He has this ability to relate to common folk that always seems a bit ironic for a Manhattan billionaire.
Support for the president is strong and enthusiastic, and creates a real energy. Don’t buy into the idea his backers are just a bunch of lemmings headed for the cliff.
His supporters do hold him accountable for his actions, and much work remains ahead of us in 2020 and beyond. I hope you’ll join me at the next presidential visit. He’ll be back.
Scott Frostman lives in Baraboo and has roots throughout Wisconsin. He believes anyone can make a difference and can be reached at email@example.com.