Racist, sexist, homophobic… just a few of the words being used to describe Donald Trump’s campaign for president.
The candidate has been accused of using hateful rhetoric to whip his supporters up, but what’s it actually like on the floor of one of his rallies?
Journalist Jared Yates Sexton got a first hand view this week, and the experience shook him so deeply he penned an article for the New Republic titled American Horror Story.
LISTEN: Jared Yates Sexton describes his experience at a Trump rally
I don't like Hitler comparisons but that was positively like Nuremburg rally level crazy.— Jared Yates Sexton (@JYSexton) June 14, 2016
Sexton attended the rally in Greensboro North Carolina Tuesday, and live-tweeted the experience.
“What I was really, really disturbed by this time in particular, was how casual the ugliness was.”
He says he was actually at the rally where Trump proposed a ban on Muslims, and says people were much more upset by that.
This time, he says there was a blase attitude to violent ideas, as when anyone made a mention of unity with the victims of the Orlando Shooting.
“[One guy said] The gays had it coming. And he sort of looked around as if it was a joke and he was trying to elicit response from people. And he got a response from it, and he seemed pretty proud of himself.”
He says the packed Coliseum was filled with anti-Hillary T-shirts, but instead of political messages or satire, they were outright misogynistic calling Clinton a “bitch,” or depicting her in a cage.
Tailgating in parking lots. Vendors selling Hillary Sucks But Not Like Monica shirts. General awfulness.— Jared Yates Sexton (@JYSexton) June 14, 2016
Sexton says the crowd was amped up, and a number of small scuffles broke out- but that the real sense of mennace was directed at anyone who looked like a protester or outsider.
“And this is the more dangerous, volatile part of these rallies, If a group in the crowd suspects that somebody is a protestor waiting on a chance to disrupt the program, there’s a real terrible intimidation that takes place. They will sort of police these people and make sure to let them know they are physically surrounded.”
Highlights of the Trump speech included comparing immigrants to snakes, defending gun rights, alleging 11% of Muslims are extremists, and bragging about pulling the Washington Post’s campaign credentials.
Sexton says the crowd responded with a palpable anger, a feeling he thinks comes from a feeling of powerlessness.
“There’s this strange coalition that’s sort of built up, and it’s these people who obviously feel like social progress in America has left them behind or sort of moved past them or taken their privilege away.”
Reflecting on the rally, Sexton says his biggest concern isn’t a Trump win, but what the movement coalescing around the man reveals about the state of America.
“But what I came away with the other night, and this is a lot more harrowing, and it’s going to keep me awake at night is that I don’t think these people are doing this because of Trump. I think Trump has brought something out in them that’s been simmering for a while, that they felt guilty to let out on the surface or in public.”
Sexton says he’s actually worried a Trump loss could just spur his supporters on, solidifying their belief that the system is rigged against them, and entrenching their hatred.