Courtland Milloy: Why Trump is sweeping 5 states

By Courtland Milloy comment

Presidential candidate Donald Trump, seen in Berlin, Maryland. Photo / The Washington Post.
Presidential candidate Donald Trump, seen in Berlin, Maryland. Photo / The Washington Post.

On Maryland's Eastern Shore, where thousands showed up for a Donald Trump rally last week, unemployment for the nine-county region averages about 8 per cent among white residents.

That's certainly better than the 17 per cent unemployment among black residents.

Maryland is the wealthiest state in the US - with Montgomery and Howard counties having the largest concentrations of affluent families. But compared with the suburban white elite, the Eastern Shore's rural, blue-collar white is the new black.

Enter Trump, with his knack for making those left behind feel great again.

"Our country does not win anymore," Trump told the crowd. "We're like the big bully that gets beat up. You ever see a bully that gets beat up? It's pretty pathetic. That's us. We're a bully that gets beat up. And we're not going to get beat up anymore, folks. We're not going to get beat up anymore."

The crowd cheered. How badly they must have needed a boost, to buy that bully bull.

Trump, the front-runner in the GOP presidential race, was shoring up support in advance of the Maryland primary today which he won. He swept through all five Northeast states voting today.

About 10,000 supporters had come to the Worcester County town of Berlin for the rally, held inside the Stephen Decatur High School gymnasium.

"Here's what's going to happen tonight," Trump told the crowd. "Tonight, we're going to have a good time. There are no rallies like Trump rallies."

You could understand why they'd go for that. In addition to unemployment, and under-employment, an opioid addiction epidemic had made its way onto the Eastern Shore, robbing laughter, stealing smiles and taking lives. Heroin, once the scourge of poor, urban black communities, was now plaguing rural, blue-collar whites.

But the crude stump speech that Trump used for entertainment made you wonder whether he really understood the most pressing problems of his audience. He promised to stop the scourge of "Mexican killers, rapists and sodomisers," then he'd vanquish radical Muslims and set the Chinese straight, too. Right after he finished knocking off "Lyin' Ted" and "Crooked Hillary."

Laughter may be good medicine, but it won't cure a heroin addiction.

Young protesters on a pavement across the street - some of them students at the high school - responded appropriately to Trump's shopworn bully boy scapegoating routine.

"Donald Trump, leave our state. We can do without your hate," they chanted.

The high school gymnasium had a maximum seating capacity of 3000 - which made it about 7000 seats short for the turnout. Thousands of disappointed Trump supporters had to be turned away, some after standing for hours in a line that stretched from the school door into an adjacent cornfield.

The supporters I spoke to didn't seem to mind, though.

"I moved here from Canada with $400, and now I own two homes and a business," one of them said proudly. "But the taxes are killing me. I just want Trump to hurry up and get elected and do something to help us small-business people."

Another told me, "I like him because he has fire in the belly and he doesn't give a [expletive] about what you think."

Nevertheless, given Trump's campaign claims that he could quickly solve even the toughest problems - like, recovering trillions of dollars lost to corporate inversion in just 15 minutes - you'd think Team Trump would have no problem planning a pep rally.

The people he had stiffed were among his most loyal supporters, a group that was feeling passed over and disrespected. Trump knew how to tap into their anger, toy with it, marvel at his own ability to harness it and turn it into votes.

But that was about it.

"The Mexican leaders are too cunning, too smart, too sharp for our leaders," he told the crowd. "And they're ripping us so badly. I don't blame them. I blame our leaders. My hat is off to them. If they can get away with it. With me, they're not getting away with it."

Then crowd began to chant: "Build that wall."

I like him because he has fire in the belly and he doesn't give a [expletive] about what you think
Trump supporter

Economic distress mixed with Trump's noxious ramblings may get some cheers, but here's the reality: Losing the immigrant workers who pick the apples and uncrate the truckloads of angry chickens on Eastern Shore poultry farms won't produce the kinds of jobs needed to boost the region.

But Trump doesn't talk about that. There's no quick quip to be made talking about the diminishing opportunities in the region. Having stoked the crowd into clamouring for a wall, he seemed to have gotten away with it.

"Hey, isn't it fun being at a Trump rally?"

- Washington Post

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