Jared Yates Sexton attended a Donald Trump rally and came away thinking it was a safe space for a certain sort of conservative cultural anger:
Inside the auditorium, men gleefully referred to Hillary Clinton with misogynistic slurs; those same smears were printed on T-shirts sold by vendors outside. The men and women sporting them were constantly being pulled into photographs with their fellow Trump supporters, all of them slinging their arms around one another and flashing smiles and thumbs up.Turmp's speech made no impression on Sexton and very little on the other attendees; this didn't seem to be about Trump so much as the scenes in the crowd.
Seemingly emboldened by the atmosphere of serial transgression, a man a few feet away from me answered a warm-up speaker’s call for solidarity with the victims of the massacre in Orlando, Fla., by shouting, “The gays had it coming!”
When Mr. Trump left the stage and the doors opened, I found myself in a glut of supporters streaming into the parking lot. As vendors hawked T-shirts by yelling, “Hillary sucks!” the people — more than a few of whom appeared inebriated — were discussing such worthy topics as the untrustworthiness of most Latinos, the inhumanity of immigrants and the racial epithets they’d used when Mr. Trump had referred to Mr. Obama as “one hell of a lousy president.”If that's right, it explains why Trump's obvious flaws never faze his core supporters; for them it isn't about him anyway, but about a license to really let go about things that bother them but can't be discussed in polite company.
They were pumped up by the speech, but it was more than that. Their voices were clear and unabashed. There was a noticeable comfort, as if they had been encouraged by not just Mr. Trump’s rhetoric but also their shared proximity to so many people of a similar mind.
And then it dawned on me: For them the arena, and then the parking lot, had become their own safe spaces, where these people, who had long been reined in by changing societal expectations and especially the heavy burden of political correctness, felt they were finally free of the ridiculous expectations of overly sensitive liberals. . . .
Commentators have tried to cast Mr. Trump as a master manipulator, using his supporters to carry him to the White House but having no real interest in improving their lives. That may be his intention. But the reality is the other way around: His supporters are using him. Indeed, as I got in my car to drive home, I realized that since leaving the coliseum, of all the things I had heard people say, there was one phrase I hadn’t heard his supporters utter even once: Donald Trump’s name.