Crisp, clean evening air outside. Inside, smoke and dry ice curling up from behind the press risers, the red, white and blue lasers shoot into every corner of the arena — HOLD ME CLOSER TINY DANCER HOLD ME CLOSER TINY DANCER — the music was super loud. The crowd was amped! They hung from the rafters, they were in their flag shirts, their “Hillary for prison” tees, their eagle headgear, they waved their Trump Pence signs they doctored with pens for the media: “CNN for prison media lies”, which they waved below the line of the camera. Nine at night in New Hampshire, at the arena, and this was it, this was it.

The Donald was flying in from wherever, the wind howled outside, the speakers came through once, twice, local stooges, then Mike Pence, white-haired, Johnny Carson-ish, the nation’s stern adult, then a break — HOLD ME CLOSER TINY DANCER/LETS SPEND THE NIGHT TOGETHER — the Donald’s playlist like being trapped in a car with him, like you were a 23-year-old model trying to get the side door open then Rudy Giuliani comes out, not looking great, something’s happened to him; the Donald’s probably called him a Guinea Jew or something, and he speaks for maybe 45 seconds to introduce … Mike Pence who comes out again!

“You’re going to vote I know you’re going to vote, but you gotta get your friends out, you gotta get two or three people to the polls tomorrow — you gotta.” The slightest edge of desperation in the voice. Then he leaves. There’s no one on stage except a hippie sound-monkey checking the levels — YOU CANT ALWAYS GET WHAT YOU WANT YOU CANT ALWAYS GET WHAT YOU WANT — that giant clue the Donald loves to taunt his gormless followers with. When will they get it? Hillary impersonators in prison jumpsuits work the aisle. “Russia! It was Russia’s fault!” people yell at them. Someone starts the chant “lock her up, lock her up!” and it catches one and people start yelling it louder and louder until it’s banging off the ceiling.

Its cacophonous, drowning out the Stones — it hurts your ears. They’re into it, there’s a rhythm going on, they love it, they can’t get enough of it. They don’t need the Donald, but there’s a flash on the runway, a couple of golden women come out, and suddenly it’s the whole Trump family, and the Donald himself in the middle of them all, moving out, waving and smiling. Crowd goes wilder, the golden hair flashes. In the state whose motto is live free or die, they cant get enough of their white royal family. They’re all there, save Melania. Ivanka, Donald’s spirit wife, comes to the mic: “I’m very proud of my father …”

“We love you Ivanka!”

“Marry me,” yells a five-foot guy in greasy denims and a ’70s moustache. I think of Ivanka, suddenly seeing him breaking away, rushing up the bleacher steps and being carried away to live above an auto parts shop in the smack town part of Nashua. That would round out the campaign. The golden women and the useless boys, the Trump sperm sacks in suits, depart and it’s just the Donald.

“Oh, friend here we are, back where it all started …”

This was going to be the Donald’s last appearance, at the place where he stomped the competition in the primary, and destroyed poor old Jeb Bush before he started. But hours earlier, Hillary added a midnight rally in Raleigh, and Trump wasn’t going to let that stand, so added a 1am appearance in Michigan (a fizzer as it turned out; exhausted, roped in crowd at an aircraft hangar, half of them left before he’d finished). This is the real end, in the whitest state in the US — not one black face in the 10,000 crowd — and the place where he could crack open the Democrats’ New England dominance.

“We’re challengin’ an elite who don’t want to be challenged, who use their vast power to enrich themselves …” Trump leads off big on the anti-elitist thing, pivots to Obamacare, recirculates some lies about voting irregularities, about Hillary’s numbers, makes up some polls that show him winning in every state.

But no one wants to hear how great things are. They want to hear how bad things are. When he gets on to emails, and bleaching hard drives, and “Crooked Hillary”, they go wild again. Starts on the media, for a warm up — “look at them, the most dishonest people”, booing so loud it rattles the barriers — and then onto Hillary. “Lock her up lock her up!” louder than ever. He doesn’t try and stop it, as he once did, glories in it, wallows in it. A group behind me, start a sub-chant, ‘string her up string her up!’ which spreads to a few rows, although some people look a tad askance at it. Huh, moderates.

Trump can’t stop this chant, he has to work through it. I look at the faces in the rows. They’re sub-orgasmic, distorted with the performance of hate, fleshy full colour George Grosz-isms comes to life. Deep down, I think they know they have lost; lost, not merely the election, but the era, lost history which will go to places they don’t want it at.

And so the Trump campaign, which he will later, forlornly say, “is a movement, this is a movement, a moment like we’ve never seen” has come to this. Movement, yeah. Up here, it’s frat boys and fat boys, crackers and smack heads. They would rather hate than make. They were drawn to Trump because he didn’t go with all that Tea Party shit about personal responsibility, said instead, “I will take care of it”. Big Daddy, who takes away the sins of the world.

What began as an insurgency of sorts, with some genuine features, has collapsed, become a slum of spite and ressentiment, happy to be defined by what it is obsessively, dementedly against against against. It is writ large, the slave mentality, the slave who says he’s free cos they can’t take away my mind. So the Trumpkins have retreated into that, to the general-unintelligence of their Facebook fantasies, a parallel world amid the frayed roads and dead malls of decayed America.

They worship a man from New York, who lives in a gold tower in an apartment decorated like a casino toilet, with wives and children chosen to match the decor, who will not shake hands for fear of germs, and presides over his daughters like they were the daughters of a pharaoh, flying out in his gold inlay plane, to present himself as the champion of their war against the elites.

“Go to bed! Go to bed! Got to bed and vote in the morning! Tomorrow we’re going to (all join in) MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” He’s gone in a puff of theatre smoke, and a fresh spray of laser light, back to New York, to his gold tower, and his “victory” party, 20 blocks from Clinton’s — champion of the people, on an island moored off the coast of America, watching it come apart on TV, breaking off only, at regular intervals, to wash clean his hands.

Peter Fray

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