Foul vs. fair: Who will turn out?

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  • An open Trump supporter at the protest. Photo: Meredith Kurz

  • Police moved the protesters south of Trump Tower. Photo: Meredith Kurz

A light rain fell when the #CancelKavanaugh rally started last Thursday near Trump Tower, but it quickly became a downpour as the crowd of protesters swelled. Anti-Trump protesters have always been cordoned off across the street from Trump Tower, with the meager number of pro-Trump supporters slightly south, on the same side of the street of Trump’s building. Taking the NYPD by surprise, it seemed, activists were directly marching on the sidewalk in front of Trump Tower. Officers finally moved the protesters farther south of Trump’s building, but the march was soon over. The rain stopped, people faded away, most leaving soggy signs. There were no arrests.

The foul weather voters could determine next month’s midterm outcomes. According to a 2007 study in The Journal of Politics, statistics favor Republicans in inclement elections. As at this rally, many pro-Trump supporters are quiet about their preference. The trick for pollsters is to uncover his secret voters.

There was only one counter-protester willing to show his stripes at the #CancelKavanaugh rally. He held an oversized “Trump 2020” banner, marching along with the protesters, yelling, “Losers!” He said he’s been at every protest since April 2017. He felt Christine Blasey Ford should be heard, but that Kavanaugh should get in. There was a scuffle when he and another man exchanged words. A nearby officer quickly quelled the dispute.

A woman in a torn dress and fake blood all over her was handing out red-splotched flyers quoting the Old Testament — “‘They had sex with her and abused her all night long until morning,’ Judges 19:25.”

A wide group of organizations sponsored the rally, from the Women’s March which gathered more than three million people nationwide in 2017, to a group called the Socialist Rifle Association, with the National Lawyers Guild, Black Women’s Blueprint and many others.

The only escape from the rain was the Trump Tower overhang: reporters and photographers hovered there, with the doormen and the NYPD. One young man there looked like a businessman who just left work; tie and jacket off, but in a white collared shirt and suit pants. He did not want to give his name, but said he was a conservative Republican. He calmly explained why he wasn’t coming forward to express himself as a counter-protester: he’d been aggressively harassed in the past over his atypical Manhattan opinions.

“I don’t think Republicans are conservative enough,” he said with a quiet smile. He supported Trump and approved of Kavanaugh, citing his twelve years on the D.C. courts, and the many times the Supreme Court endorsed his opinions. He noted that four of Ford’s friends denied that the alleged assault happened as Ford explained it, and that he’d never seen a group of people try to ruin someone else’s life.

He admitted he’d like to see Trump behave more formally and that the president had a big ego. However, he likes that Trump “sells” America, claiming we have the best products, the best employees. He’s very happy with the new trade agreement with Mexico and Canada.

“Trump cares about, and is doing a good job with, our economy,” he said. “He gets work done. The voters knew what they were getting, and they voted him in.”

The protesters had many varied opinions, yet all agreed Kavanaugh didn’t belong on the Supreme Court and that Trump should be voted out. Most felt the president should not be impeached because it would continue this ongoing political feud.

As a generalization, the women protesters seemed focused on the disparity between being their being in the majority numerically while being grossly underrepresented politically. The men on both political sides seemed more focused of the power struggle between the two political parties. One woman I spoke to said Kavanaugh had “expressed a disdain for a political slant of some Americans.”

This Saturday there is a rally in Washington, DC sponsored by the Women’s March. There is no estimate on the size of the rally. Weather forecast? Fair.

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