What I Saw At The Trump Parade…In Deep Blue New Jersey?

Supporters of President Donald Trump attend an election rally at Skylands Stadium on October 14, 2020 in Augusta, New Jersey. Billed as “the largest grassroots presidential election rally to date,” the event featured numerous speakers urging New Jersey residents to re-elect Donald Trump for president on November 4th. New Jersey, which has a Democratic governor, is expected to be won by Democratic challenger Joe Biden. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

I intercepted the procession of vehicles with flashing lights and blaring horns as it crawled eastward along Route 28, which is a main avenue that runs through the leafy New Jersey commuter towns of Scotch Plains, Fanwood, Westfield, Garwood, and Cranford. I’d heard about this event just an hour before and decided to check it out. I didn’t know what to expect. This is Union County after all, a place that gave Hillary Clinton 132,000 votes versus only 62,000 for Donald Trump in 2016. It’s solidly blue. In fact, my drive over to the event took me through residential streets lined with “Biden/Harris” signs, as if running a Democrat gauntlet.

And yet, when I arrived at the lively scene, a Trump 2020 Parade made up of all models of cars, trucks, and motorcycles, most adorned in Trump flags, American flags, Blue Line police support flags, etc. I was quite impressed by what I saw. I parked my car and for the good part of an hour I stood on the sidewalk and watched vehicle after vehicle pass by with horns roaring, passengers leaning out of their windows cheering and waving, with thumbs-up all around.  I also noticed people who were not a part of the parade itself, many driving west in the opposite direction, beeping their horns and flashing their lights in support. One woman was driving an un-adorned SUV and clearly had been caught in the parade. She looked very serious and so those of us on the side of the road naturally assumed, given the political demographics of this area, she was none too happy to be caught in a cavalcade of Trump supporters. Then she looked over to us, rolled down her window, and with a big smile said: “I’m caught in this!  But I’m happy I am!  I love Trump!”

Several cars waiting their turn to enter the queue were parked in the lot of a local catering hall just off the road. So I strolled over to the people sitting patiently in their cars or trucks, many with families, and identified myself as a Daily Wire contributor to assure them I was not there to ambush or “dox” them. I just wanted to talk about what brought them out here a 10am on a Saturday. I promised no pictures or names (image above from a different Trump rally in Augusta, New Jersey on Oct. 14). So you, dear reader, will just have to trust me on this.

The response was universal: these people love their country and they fear that the Democrats are trying to turn it into a one-party state.  They believe in the Constitution. And, for all his faults — which many freely admitted they didn’t like — Trump, they said, also believes in the institutions of this nation…and he loves the country.  They believe the Democrats, for reasons they cannot fathom, only focus on what is wrong with America and not what’s worked.

One woman spoke to me from her idling car’s window, a pink “Women For Trump” rooftop flag snapping in the breeze.  She feared what would happen to the courts and Congress if Democrats gained control. “I don’t think we’ll recognize this country any more if this happens. And you know what? If Republicans were trying to pack the Supreme Court and end the Electoral College, I’d be just as upset.”

Another woman agreed. She had a Spanish accent and so I dove further, as she was clearly an immigrant. It turns out she was from Cuba. “I am scared of what I see,” she confided in me. “In this country, if you work hard, you can make a good life for yourself. It was not that way in Cuba.  This is what the communists did. They took control of the media.  Made promises of all things for all the people. But they were lying.  Socialism doesn’t work. It destroyed my country. I came here to get away from all that!”

Yet another immigrant, this time from Italy, had a lot to say. I could have talked to him for hours. He lamented: “This is the greatest country in the world. I came here when I was 21. I love this country. I don’t want to see it destroyed.”  But why Trump? I asked. “Because he appreciates what a wonderful place this is. He loves it too. And I’ll tell you another thing,” he said, clearly passionate in his concerns. “I have a gun, okay?” (I told him my father was a combat veteran Marine and so he relaxed some. Clearly in New Jersey he’s been conditioned to hesitate before speaking about guns as they are a touchy subject.) “I love guns. It’s my right. I have all the papers. My license. I’ve never shot anybody. I am a law-abiding gun owner. But I go to the range and I see these people outside with signs saying they don’t like guns. So I tell them ‘okay fine, then don’t buy one.’ But they want it so that I can’t buy one. That’s not what this country is about. You do what you want.”

What struck me too was the jovial, upbeat mood of the parade and those who lined the street to watch it go by, many waving American flags, all smiling. Clearly there was a lot of enthusiasm. And yet there was also an undertone of concern. This was about more than just the economy, or even COVID, neither of which I heard mentioned in the entire time I was there. This, for them, is a more existential matter. They see Trump as the only man who can stand up to the forces of nihilism and radical change for the worse as represented by the Biden/Harris ticket. And none of them believe that Joe Biden will be president even if he wins. They were more concerned about a President Harris.

Not everyone was supportive, of course. A few people stood a block down from me defiantly holding up “Biden/Harris” signs. How did the parade-goers respond? Did they hurl epithets at them or flash obscene hand gestures? Did anyone in a MAGA hat sucker-punch them in the back of the head? Nope. Actually quite the opposite. Any recognition at all of their protest was met with a thumbs-up out the window. When the parade halted for a moment, I asked one driver why he gave the Biden-Harris sign-holders a wave and thumbs-up. “Because I respect their right to their views and admire that they’re putting them out there,” he said. “Obviously I don’t agree with them.”

One could almost hear the old line: “I may not agree with what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it” …one that seems to be anathema to the modern left.

I asked another tolerant driver. “What if this was a Biden parade and you were standing out there with a Trump sign?”  The man just shook his head and laughed. “I wouldn’t.” His wife leaned over from the passenger side and added: “I don’t need him getting into a fistfight.”

Some of the signs and flags I saw drive by in this caravan that, if one figures a car every fifteen seconds, was over 200-strong, included: “Women for Trump,” “Blacks For Trump” (I saw several African-Americans among the participants), “Veterans For Trump,” “Hispanics For Trump,” also flags representing Portugal, Argentina, and Cuba.

I know people in Florida. One told me that on a recent drive from Melbourne to Vero Beach, about 45 miles or so, he stopped counting Trump signs after 30. He  didn’t see a single Biden sign. Not one. But, of course, this was a red section of a swing state. What struck me about Saturday in New Jersey was that this was deep blue territory. One person said, “I didn’t realize there were so many Trump voters in New Jersey.” But, being Debbie Downer, I offered that maybe this was all of them. Still, I don’t remember such public and strong showings of support in this staunch blue county four years ago.

I know that anecdotes are just that. And inductive reasoning, especially in national elections, can be misleading. There is the famous story of New Yorker theater critic Pauline Kael who, after Nixon’s 1972 landslide, said with puzzlement: “Gee, everyone I know voted for McGovern.” But then again, another part of me reflects on a curious phenomenon in nature around here, wherein once every 14 years, the dormant cicadas, until then unseen and undetected, emerge en masse to make their presence known; then they recede back into the soil, and there they remain until the time comes again. I wonder if that is a metaphor applicable to this country in this election. Certainly in this area, there are no Trump signs on lawns.  But how much of that is fear of vandalism and social backlash, as was a concern expressed by many I spoke to today. Is a house with no sign, or with a Tom Kean (for Congress) or Blue Lives Matter banner, or simply a displayed Stars and Stripes, a tacit endorsement of MAGA 2020?  Who knows.  Still, I wonder if the polls are neglecting to tell us what my own eyes saw in the most unlikely of places.  Are there more Trump cicadas out there than any outdated polling methodology in this digital age can possibly capture accurately?  Or perhaps am I just being Pauline Kael 2.0?

My gut tells me this parade meant something.  I guess we will know on election night…or will we?  Will we ever?  That was another common concern, but that’s an article all on its own.

Brad Schaeffer is a commodities trader, columnist, and author of the acclaimed World War II novel Of Another Time And Place

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The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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