He doesn’t seem well. In fact, he sounds exactly like every person I’ve encountered on their deathbed. These thoughts ran through my mind Thursday while I watched Joe Biden breathlessly address Kenosha community leaders through his surgical mask.
Aside from the former vice president’s extortionate call-to-action that if you don’t vote for him, racism and riots will reign forever, my primary takeaway from his remarks was that Biden is the weakest and least-inspiring candidate I’ve ever seen. This was quite a contrast from the energy I felt pulsing through Kenosha as I walked the glass-littered streets the day President Donald Trump came to town.
Trump Can’t Win… Or Can He?
Sometime around the second month of the pandemic, I made my peace with a Biden presidency. There was no way Trump could win, it seemed. With the death toll rising, businesses closing, and the economy tanking, things weren’t looking too good for the incumbent. Pair that with the fact that Democrats wield unrivaled power in our major institutions, controlling all of them save for some churches — including media, education, and entertainment — a second-term victory for Trump seemed impossible.
But administrations come and go. Unlike many prominent Democrats, who’ve thrown a four-year tantrum since 2016, most people realize presidential elections aren’t the end of the world. Would it be a bummer if Biden sealed the deal? Sure, but it would be fine. We would survive (without an embittered #NotMyPresident campaign).
I’m becoming increasingly convinced that’s a reality we’ll never have to face. As The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway pointed out, Biden held a 25-point lead in the betting odds at the beginning of August. Fast-forward just one month, and Trump has made up the entire deficit, now neck-and-neck with Biden.
“So here is the cold reality the media are for some reason refusing to tell people as the country rounds Labor Day and this campaign really gets into high gear,” Hemingway wrote. “This race is effectively tied today, Trump has momentum, and Biden is going to have to campaign hard, energize his voters, and earn it if he hopes to unseat the incumbent.”
WATCH: Kenosha Speaks Mini-Doc: Locals React To Chaos, Violence And A Visit From President Trump
Protesters Are Anti-Trump — but Not Pro-Biden
As we learned in 2016, it isn’t all just a numbers game. But if a swing-state city can serve as a case study amid political unrest, Kenosha backs up the data.
2020 has become the year of the pros and the antis. This was never so clear as during the back-to-back weeks of the partisan national conventions. Democrats are anti-hate, anti-bigotry, anti-establishment. Republicans are pro-America, pro-First Amendment, pro-law enforcement.
The left’s messaging is more about loathing the status quo than about beckoning to something better. This is a bit hyperbolic, of course. Democrats are certainly “for” things: masks, socialized health care, and reproductive irresponsibility are near the top of the list. They don’t love anything as much as they hate one thing, however, and that one thing is all wrapped up in a single man, Donald Trump.
“So I’m definitely pro-Biden — because I’m anti-Trump,” Jessica Cwik, a Kenosha native, told The Federalist in an interview.
“Me, personally, I’m less pro-Biden, and I’m more anti-Trump,” echoed Rachel Thompson in a similar interview. “No matter what, I do want Trump out, and that’s what the bottom line is. … I’m not going to pretend everything is going to be, you know, amazing and peachy once Biden gets in.” Black Lives Matter protesters throughout uptown Kenosha sounded like they were reading from the same script of Biden indifference.
“It’s not about ‘Biden is some champion for the people.’ No, he’s not,” added Niko Estwind, a self-described communist revolutionary, calling Biden a “war criminal.” “You know, all the policies and the stuff that he stands for — but he’s not a fascist. So that’s the difference between him and Trump. He’s not a fascist.”
“Biden still represents the Washington establishment in a lot of ways,” said Thompson. “He’s pro-fracking and, you know, he was the one who wrote the ’94 crime bill.”
“I don’t know who I’m voting for. I’m definitely not voting for Trump,” one protester in a “F-ck Police Brutality” shirt and “Black Lives Matter” hat who campaigned for Bernie Sanders in 2016 and 2020 told The Federalist. “It’s going to be really hard for me to vote for Biden just because I’m very anti-establishment.”
The same story repeated itself over and over. Protesters weren’t pro-Biden. They were just anti-Trump. It’s possible we just happened to talk to the wrong people and that plenty of Wisconsinites watching the madness in Kenosha are fervently pro-Biden and just didn’t speak to us. One would think if that were the case, however, Biden’s visit to the midwestern town just two days later would have turned out his supporters. It didn’t.
According to reporters on the ground, the response to the former vice president’s visit was “much more low key.”
Much more low key response to @JoeBiden #kenosha visit than @realDonaldTrump – this is deliberate, Biden wanting to avoid a circus, but the media pack easily outnumbers supporters here @theheraldsun @dailytelegraph pic.twitter.com/4WVtXgWdiK
— Sarah Blake (@sarahblakemedia) September 3, 2020
Watching Biden’s Kenosha address, it isn’t hard to see why people are disillusioned. Off-teleprompter, Biden was a feeble disaster. He addressed a room of people at a decibel below conversational volume and set a new gaffe record, joking about people shooting him for his tax hikes — during the visit centered on a police shooting.
Joe Biden appeared to joke on Thursday that if he spoke any longer about his plan to increase taxes on the wealthy “he’ll shoot me,” as he addressed a group of Kenosha, Wisconsin, residents following the police shooting of Jacob Blake https://t.co/mfyED6lwFw pic.twitter.com/hVOcBLqtLN
— POLITICO (@politico) September 3, 2020
Enthusiasm Radiates From Trump Supporters
Unlike prospective Biden voters, Trump supporters are revved up. Their excitement was palpable.
Brandon Harris, who calls himself the tattooed conservative, is the founder of Freedom Movement U.S.A, which co-hosts Trump rallies across the country. Harris said he’s thrown 590 rallies. “I’ve been [twice] in Chicago, back and forth to California this week, Nevada, Washington, D.C. — Trump supporters are coming up everywhere,” he told The Federalist in Kenosha. “We’ve seen nothing but people like this everywhere. I have yet to see two Biden supporters show up to a rally.”
“I’ve been to seven of his rallies, traveled the United States, and not one riot,” said Danell Vincenti, donning a MAGA cheesehead. “The true Wisconsinites, the true cheeseheads of Wisconsin, we love our president, and he’s got our support 100 percent.”
“It’s awesome,” one young man, Richard Ross, told me when I asked how he felt about Trump being in Kenosha. “I’m excited to see the leader of the greatest country in the world.”
One person after the next offered a variation of the same sentiment: “We’re super excited to see him. We super support him,” as Amy, a Kenosha native, said.
Trump supporters are zealously pro-Trump. Although the fervor is almost religious, it largely lacks the cultish component of its leftist counterpart, identity-politics progressivism, which includes the sin, atonement, penance, and dogma of a religious order — but none of the grace.
That’s because, based on most of the Trumpers I’ve interviewed and contrary to what the left seems to believe, their passion isn’t driven by blind support of a man, a movement, or an apology. It’s based on the fundamental belief that America is truly great and is worth preserving, and so long as they have a fighter committed to the American dream, they’ll commit to him.
Their allegiance has conditions, to be sure. But what the left continuously fails to grasp is that those conditions are not social media decorum or politically correct platitudes. Those conditions are wrapped up in the president’s devotion to aggressively defend those things these Americans hold dear: namely faith, family, and freedom.
“I don’t care what color you are, what religion you are, what sex you are — we’re all together,” Vincenti said. “We love this country. We love our flag. We stand for the flag and kneel for God.”
Who can say what the 2020 election will bring? But after surveying Kenosha, I’m convinced Trump won’t lose Wisconsin. And if I were a betting woman, I’d say he won’t lose the White House.