President Donald Trump held a campaign rally in Carson City, Nevada on Sunday October 18. For several hours before the President’s arrival, a couple dozen people holding Trump flags and signs waited at the intersection of East College Parkway and Goni Road in anticipation of the Trump motorcade.
In a nearby bank parking lot, Trump apparel vendors provided last-minute MAGA hat shopping opportunities for people as they walked past on their way to the Carson City Airport to see the President deliver a reelection stump speech.
Jackie Hager wore a red, white, and blue tie-dye shirt. She and her friend Tanya stood behind a fold-up table adorned with a Trump 2020 banner and covered with Trump campaign apparel. MAGA hats were selling for $20.
I asked Hager if she has concerns about President Trump being a controversial figure.
“I love it,” Hager said. “I think that’s what we need. And that’s why we have so many people, not my age as much as the younger people that are just right behind him. They think that he’s talking to them.”
Tanya said she wasn’t concerned with the President’s antics and was more worried about the economy.
“With everything he’s done for the economy, I don’t care about his personality. There’s a lot of people that have goofy, ugly personalities, but he gets things done,” Tanya said. “He just really gets things done for the people.”
Former Nevada State Senator from Sparks, Republican Maurice Washington was in line to buy a MAGA hat.
“I’ve come to support the President and let him know that he’s got some African American support and I appreciate the job that he’s done,” Washington said.
In a recent stump speech in Atlanta, President Trump unveiled the Black Economic Empowerment Platinum Plan. According to a Trump campaign press release, the plan is intended to provide Black Americans greater access to capital for business investment.
“I know he’s come up with the Platinum Plan that I have looked at and I thought it was a pretty good plan. He created the free enterprise zones and he’s done prison and criminal justice reform, so you know, he’s a man who’s kept his word, and I appreciate that.”
The Ally assessed the racial makeup of those detained in the Washoe County jail over a one-year period, and Blacks made up roughly 13 percent of all arrests while Blacks make up less than 2 percent of the regional population. Washington said he supports the police and “law and order.” The former state senator ascribes greater frequency of Blacks being arrested to a deterioration of the nuclear family and failure of the public education system.
“The word systemic means it’s inherent in the system. But the systemic problem is, of course, is the breakup of the family, not allowing black males to be part of the family, or devolution of the family. And then, of course, our educational system making, allowing kids to stay in impoverished schools, just because of their zip code.
“We start working on those two problems, and I think you’ll see the crime rate diminish a little bit, because it wasn’t like that in the ‘40s and ‘50s.”
The Ally asked if poverty plays a role in higher Black arrest rates.
“I think it’s related to the breakup of the family and education, not poverty, because you know, if you have the right mindset you can … this country allows a lot of opportunities, and you take advantage of those, you can be successful.
“Look at (Robert) Johnson who was the CEO of BET and other prominent African Americans, and of course, even Barack Obama. You know, he was the first African American elected in this nation and couldn’t have done it without those opportunities and support system. And of course, the White vote, there’s not enough African Americans to vote for.”
Jeff Allen and his brother Mark set up a tent with several fold up tables heavy with Trump campaign apparel. Allen said he was doing some, “promotional marketing” and that he was a member of the California Trump Coalition. Allen described himself as both a businessman and Trump advocate.
How do you become an itinerant Trump apparel vendor?
“This all started when my car blew up from the liberals, and that’s what motivated me to keep going. I went to a mechanic, and I kept going back, and they loosened all the screws, and my car blew up, and then I just started selling masks.”
Beyond “liberals” attempting to kill him through tampering with his car, are there issues that inspire his allegiance to Donald Trump?
“I don’t believe in the behavior of the liberals,” Allen said. “I believe most of them don’t care about politics. They’re not spiritual. So I believe that the spiritual side and the Karma will eventually win, and I have visions of Trump winning,” Allen said with a laugh. “Yeah, I have the visions and the calmer … everything feels positive energy with Trump.”
Two men wearing red MAGA hats stood on the sidewalk on the north side of East College Parkway and greeted people walking to the Trump rally. Mike Smith is from Reno and handed out 2020 Presidential Scorecards.
“For me, for instance, Biden wants to raise taxes four trillion dollars. Number two, he’s going to be very weak on China. Whereas Trump sees China as a threat. And also, school choice and school vouchers – He’s (Biden) already said he’s going to shut down all school choice, which is going to affect inner city kids so badly because that’s their way out from many of the inner-city schools to be able to get a voucher and go to charter schools which by the way, are public schools.”
Smith said he’s been a Republican for a long time, so we asked him if he has seen a change in the party over recent years with some traditional Republicans openly rejecting Donald Trump.
“There’s been a big evolution in the party, especially with Trump. Many people came along and said, we’re conservatives. We’re going to do this. We’re going to do that. Then they go to Washington. They never did any of it. It’s ironic because even on the Democrat side, the same thing, here’s Obama and Biden, then they didn’t do prison reform. It’s so odd, right? They say one thing, they go to Washington and do something entirely different.”
Smith handed out a printed 2020 Presidential Voting Guide that contrasts Trump and Biden on a variety of issues. For Smith, the details of issues get lost in the noise of the Trump presidency
“It’s like my friend, he’s a state legislator down in New Mexico, retired. I called him up and I said, ‘you want to help with the scorecard project?’ He said, ‘I do. But I want you to know something. I don’t like President Trump. I think he’s a narcissist and a bully. But I’m absolutely voting for him.’
“So because of the policy issues, I see that a lot. It’s not a beauty contest. This person is going to be the leader of the free world. And the amazing thing about Trump, he’s just a common sense businessperson. So he always goes to an issue and says, ‘okay, what’s the problem? Where’s the resources? What’s the solution?’ And then he just does it. That’s why so many things were done.
“When Kanye West and Kim Kardashian and other reformers came to him and said, ‘Hey, we need prison reform.’ He said, ‘Tell me about it.’ Then he heard about it. He said, ‘why not? Let’s do it.’ So he brought together both sides and did it.
“I think we’d see that on infrastructure and maybe 30 other things, once we get past this election, if he can win again, then I’m hoping there’ll be bipartisan cooperation again on many, many issues.”
With a couple weeks to go before Election Day, what is Smith’s primary concern?
“I’m worried because if Biden and Harris get in, that’s the end of the free world,” Smith said. “And I don’t think that’s hyperbole, because they’ve already said they’re going to make Puerto Rico and DC states. So that gives the Democrats four permanent senators for life, basically, those two states which are Democrat, so then they’ll have a big advantage. They’re going to give 11 million illegals citizenship and the vote rather immediately. So now we’ve got that many more votes for their side.
“And then they’re going to pack the court, you know, just so they can have Supreme Court justices that rubber stamp their proposals, which I don’t think are good proposals.
“And then on foreign policy, they’re a total disaster. You might remember, they predicted Trump would be erratic and we’d be in all kinds of wars. But instead he did what he said. He said, why did Bush send us to those wars and spend trillions of dollars and all that blood and treasure of American, our young people? Let’s bring them home. So he’s actually not for war, because it’s common sense. Why are we over there?
“Then he made energy independence, they would smash energy independence. What does that mean? We’re back into endless wars in the Middle East, protecting our access to oil and gas.”
In 2016, if polls were to be believed, Donald Trump would not have become president. Smith says he’s not concerned with Trump’s flagging position in several major polls. He said Trump voters do not respond to polling queries.
“We’re hoping it’s just like last time where Hillary was way ahead. In fact, even the very last poll had her way, way up. So we’re hoping that’s true because I think many Trump voters won’t answer polls. So they’re probably not even counted in the polls.”
MAGA hat sales were steady at Jackie Hager’s impromptu apparel stand. Hager said she’s confident headed into the election.
“Look at how many people are here to represent him … It’s very encouraging.”
Brian Bahouth is the editor of the Sierra Nevada Ally. Support his work.