Rise and shine. With barely four hours of sleep, I'm back at it, ready for an 8:30 AM flight to Dallas and then a quick ride over to Fort Worth to see Donald Trump, again. I've seen The Donald more times than I'd like to have at this point, but he's the front-runner in the Republican race, so I guess it's justified. By now, you've probably deduced that he's not exactly my cup of tea. Hell, I don't even like tea. Leaves me with a foul taste in my mouth. But people want to know what's going on out here, so here I am.
Hip-hop, as a culture, informs the American masses about what life is like in the inner cities. It also informs residents in those inner cities about the world outside their neighborhoods. I've been around hip-hop long enough to know what my duty is to those who come after me. No one is gonna give them the tools they need to graduate from the school of hard knocks, so it's on me to pull their coat tails and give them some game. That goes not just for music but for all facets of life, whether on the streets or even in the political field. And that's why I'm getting on this plane, tired as fuck, and heading back into the lion's den.
I land in Dallas and make a stop at the Quick Trip for cigarillos, car spray, and this blunt, before I hit the highway. I'm about to arrive at the Fort Worth Convention Center, where Trump is holding a press conference, when I find out the campaign has already given VICE's photographer Ben an ultimatum: He can enter the event without us, or he won't be allowed in at all. This is typical of the Trump campaign. Fuck outta here. The campaign's aggression toward journalists carries faint wafts of fascism, coming off the sports coats of Trump's security team like a cheap cologne. I don't want this trip to be a total bust, though, so I tell Ben to go ahead while I talk to some people outside. I see on social media that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is in there, endorsing Trump at the press conference. Bridge and Tunnel meets Park Avenue—a marriage made in heaven.
There's a huge crowd of protesters outside the venue, chanting "Racist Go Home!" as Trump's supporters line up at the entrance. We finally make our way to the media check-in, and to my surprise, we still have credentials. There are literally thousands of people here. It's insane. This is a space normally reserved for car shows, and it's filled to capacity for a political rally. It takes five minutes just to snake our way to the press pit. This is worse than trying to get a motorcycle jacket at the H&M x Balmain release. We find a spot between the risers and the sound board and lock in. People in the crowd are begging photographers in the pit to move because they're blocking the view. I've never been to an event where people had to stand behind the press risers. But this is a Trump rally. Facebook statuses must be updated, selfies must be taken, Snap stories must be told—and in Fort Worth, there's no one holding a candle to the celebrity of Donald Trump.
Christie is first up to speak, telling the crowd he's officially endorsed Donald Trump, that Donald is the guy who can bring jobs to the US and keep Hillary Clinton away from the White House. What a reversal of fortune for the Big Guy. It seems like Christie must be looking for the VP spot, or some other Cabinet post, because he's singing Trump's praises and gushing about how proud he is to be part of the team. When he asks the crowd if Texas is "Trump Country," the room shakes with a resounding, definitive "YES!"
Then he introduces the Heir Helmet himself. Camera phones go up all over the room, and the crowd starts to chant "USA!" Trump thanks Christie for the intro and starts to gloat about his debate performance in Houston, bragging that he won every online poll the night before. Which, of course, he did. He reminds the crowd that he'll destroy ISIS, and people cheer. At various points, people in the crowd will scream randomly, and it's hard to tell if they're pro-Trump or con. I assume pro, though, because I haven't seen anyone escorted out of the hall—yet.
Then Tump moves in for the kill. He refers to Marco Rubio, who went after Trump hard that night, as the "lightweight senator from Florida," dismissing him as a "little baby" and a "puppy" a couple of times. He also declares that Texas Senator Ted Cruz, his other chief Republican rival, is smarter than Rubio, clearly trying to pit his opponents against one another and deflect their attacks on him. That's some 48 Laws of Power shit.
Trump cracks a joke about Mitt Romney, who's been telling reporters that The Donald needs to release his tax returns. Trump dismisses Romney as a "terrible candidate" and declares he knew the 2012 GOP nominee would lose because he "walks like a penguin." The crowd cheers again, and Trump does a little Romney-penguin imitation for them. He tells the crowd that he supported both Romney and John McCain in their presidential races, but that after both candidates lost to Barack Obama, he decided that he should just run himself. Clearly, the message resonates.
Later, Trump moves on to the issue of Syrian refugees—and that's when the protest breaks out. A group of demonstrators standing in front of the press pit break out their signs and start chanting, and the crowd turns on them, booing and chanting right back. It gets very close to a physical confrontation, when a middle-aged white man in a Trump jersey gets in the face of one of the protesters, a young black man. At this point, I'm thinking that whoever thought to make these campaign jerseys, connecting sports merchandise with political fandom to take advantage of how much Americans want to belong to a winning team, is a fucking genius. Maybe he can help Trump get Mexico to pay for that wall.
An elderly white man nearby asks me what happened. I tell him they were protesting Trump's the treatment of Muslims. What the man says next is hard to digest: "Muslims? Here? My god!" I can't make this shit up folks. As Trump goes on, I notice that his speech is more loaded with conservative talking points, that it's not as loose as it's been before. Whatever he's doing, it's clearly working, like an infomercial about the world's worst right-wing hair product. Not only is he the spokesman, he's the company president. Both the hair and the message are terrifying.
The rally finally ends, and the Stones play as the crowd is ushered out of the building. In the plaza outside, Trump supporters and anti-Trump demonstrators are shouting at each other about "the Wall." The Trump fans are giddy, eagerly lining up at the Trump campaign's Winnebago, which is parked near the exit and giving out yard signs and bumper stickers for supporters to pass out ahead of Super Tuesday. Campaign volunteers are stationed at a table, signing people up to canvass for Trump, and there's no shortage of folks willing to put their names down to help out.
We meet back up with Ben, the photographer, outside, and he tells us that he was confronted by a member of Trump's staff as he was getting ready to leave the building. He'd been taking a break, having a snack, when the rally ended, and he was told by a Trump flack that he would have to leave. He was getting up to go, when the flack came back with a police officer to escort him out; according to Ben, even the cop was confused about why he'd been called over.
On the drive back to Dallas, I realize it's time to start seriously pondering the possibility of a President Trump. As much as I've tried to lighten things up with hair jokes and anecdotes, the truth is, this shit is getting less funny by the minute. The crowds just keep getting bigger, and the protests get bigger too. The tension is thick, and it's only building. There were no fist fights today, but at this point, it seems like only matter of time before shit start to get physical.
Trump, meanwhile, doesn't seem concerned, and he even seems to enjoy the havoc he's wreaked. But thinking about someone who looks at becoming the leader of the free world no different than being grand marshal of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is making feel ill. He's running for HOTUS, Headache of the United States. Somebody pass me a Tylenol.
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