During his speech on the final night of the Republican National Convention, Donald Trump went on record declaring himself the law and order candidate. He also spent an hour reiterating his scream promises that he was going to defeat ISIS and build a wall along our southern border. He didn’t actually bother addressing how he was going to accomplish any of that, but let’s leave that aside for a moment. Observers of the speech reacted in real time—Twitter was predictably ablaze with gifs, while the YouTube livestream was the internet commentator cesspool it is known for being. But the day after always feels different.
Now that we’ve had a little time to process Trump’s speech, we reached out to some people whose thoughts we actually respect to get their reaction.
Red Pill, Detroit rapper
I was sitting by myself watching the RNC and audibly laughed by myself when Trump was announced. It’s been real for a long time, but something about the actual act of Trump being announced as the Republican nominee made it finally hit me. Donald Trump, no matter how unlikely it might seem right now, has a shot to be President of the United States. But the scariest part isn’t Trump, it’s the people he’s empowering. The looks on their faces in the crowd, the crying, the screaming, the booing—we have to live with these people.
I’ve tried my best to find some kind of fucked up empathy for them. I come from a working class family and I’m from Michigan, one of the hardest hit states economically. A lot of the pain and economic pressure these people have faced, I understand it. But watching the speech it became clear it is so much more than that to them. Fuck the jobs, fuck the economy, these people aren’t talking about the economy when they say they want to “Make America Great Again.” They’re talking about wanting to be racist without it being taboo. They’re talking about not wanting to hide their true feelings about the LGBTQ community. They want to make sexist, racist, homophobic, xenophobic, whatever-the-fuck jokes at work and not fear they’re going to lose their jobs. They don’t want to have to press “1” for English and they definitely don’t want to have to talk to a dude in India to get their internet working. They want to take back their white lives, their white jobs, their white neighborhoods, their white schools, their white Jesus. And Trump has given them a platform and a means to do it. That’s what’s scary. An orange-skinned megalomaniac shouting to an empty arena is just a crazy dude. But 40% of the population hanging on his every word is horrifying.
Safy Hallan-Farah, Minneapolis writer and editor
I’ll admit I was watching the reactions on Twitter more than I was the RNC. And then this morning I watched about 20 minutes of his speech. I didn’t watch the whole thing. I don’t know, I don’t like watching Donald Trump.
It’s sickening. I feel like this was the first Republican presidential nominee speech that literally frightened me. Mitt Romney, Bush…no one ever scared me like that. I disagreed with them, but Trump’s really scary. He’s a fascist.
Apparently he brought in Martin Shkreli. I was reading his reactions on Twitter. He said, “Trump has my unmitigated endorsement. It was hard won and I was skeptical. The entire Trump family convinced me.” He could be trolling because he said he was gonna destroy the Wu-Tang album that he bought and never did.
I’m from a community where everyone’s really liberal. I’m doing canvassing right now. My friend works for the [Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party]. I’m trying to help her because she doesn’t have enough volunteers. I’ve noticed that in my own community, 100% across the board consensus is that Hillary Clinton should win. Every old Somali person I’ve talked to has said, “Yeah, we’re voting for the old lady. We’re afraid of that other guy.” But there are other people I’ve talked to in the past, not while canvassing, but in general, young Somali kids who feel like they’re not necessarily Republican, but they might be swayed by someone like Trump because his social policies are conservative. I want to believe that he won’t get more people on board with him, but I don’t know, to be honest. People are fickle and they often vote outside of their own interest.
You know what I found really interesting about this speech? I didn’t know white people felt so unsafe in America. That was really interesting to me because I’ve always heard Republican rhetoric that was really fear mongering-based, but this was on another level, like a persecution complex level. So I don’t know, I’m just really scared. I do think impressionable young people could be swayed by him, especially if they don’t know what’s best for them. I would honestly never advise someone to vote for a third party candidate, but if a Republican wants to vote for Gary Johnson, go for it, because this is really bad.
Leslie, Los Angeles actress
I felt disturbed, I felt sickened, I felt scared, and extremely disappointed. I’ve never voted Republican in my entire life, and I never will, but when I look back at John McCain or George Bush, their speeches were at least hopeful and attempted to reach out to people who may not currently be a supporter. Their speeches tried to show us why they would be good candidates. To me, Trump doubled down on who he knows are his core. And his core is made up of the über conservatives and the alt-right. And when I say the alt-right, I mean the people who consider themselves alternatives to regular conservatism, people who are all about white pride, the belief they are intellectually and culturally superior because they’re white, and who are vehemently anti-semitic, racist, and no friend of the LGBT community. And I don’t know if you saw today, but David Duke, who was previously a Grand Wizard of the KKK says he’s going to run for Senate. He feels so incredibly empowered by Donald Trump, who he says shares so many of his core values, that he’s going to run for Senate. I think it’s a really scary time.
And if you want my honest answer, about two-thirds of the way through, I had to turn the speech off. I was getting so uncomfortable. And besides the fact that his auditory skills are sub-par—you have a microphone, why are you screaming and red-faced?—there are people like Mitt Romney, who I never would have voted for, who spoke beautifully at his convention. He really did try to be inclusive. Trump was so oblivious to how disconnected he was, that in its own way it was kind of cute like, “Oh you don’t even know.” He was like an old man, or an extinct species—this older rich white guy who has no idea what the life of an average American life looks like.
This was someone who was talking about America, and it was so dark. I thought I was watching the beginning of some, like, Michael Bay apocalypse movie. And to me, it’s the classic McCarthyism thing, that people have done for years before him, like George Wallace, which is to terrify everybody and tell them you are the only daddy who can save them. Trump said that he alone was the only person who could this. He alone. What? What are you talking about? I think he stirred up the worst in people and did it all through this fear-based “the sky is falling, if you don’t vote for me, then you’re children will be raped and murdered in front of you.”