I actually photographed this Trump rally back in the spring when it looked like he might not even win the Republican nomination. I drove down to Syracuse with photographer Sarah Palmer who was working on a project called
In the spring, Trump's candidacy still seemed like a joke. Trump seemed to stand for pretty much the opposite of all my personal and political beliefs but I wanted to see what it would be like to go to a rally - to see the voters who loved him and to hear what he said in-person.
The event was scarier than I thought it would be. Outside the conference hall people had been standing in line for hours for a spot inside. Once inside, they were tired and a little cranky. It was hot and space was tight. An announcement reminded rally attendees not to physically assault protesters if they appeared during the rally. Trump was late and as time wore on the crowd was restless.
Eventually Trump took the stage and the crowd erupted. He ranted the entire rally without notes - promising to bring all the jobs back to Syracuse immediately after being elected ("that's how good I am"), asking the crowd to turn around and look at the lying and incompetent press who were at the back in a small pen area and from time-to-time whipping up the crowd to chant "Build the Wall!" He bragged about how smart his voters were. He didn't talk about any real policy or issues. The crowd loved it. After it was over I couldn't believe what I'd heard. I left thinking Trump was scarier - and even less credible a candidate - than I had thought before I'd seen him in-person.
Once home people seemed to find it interesting that I'd been to a Trump rally. At the time it seemed a little funny to describe the event. I spoke about it the way you might recount the time you saw a waterskiing squirrel - it was amusing and disorienting but nothing serious. I firmly expected Clinton to win the Presidency. I couldn't believe how anyone could take Trump seriously, especially after seeing him speak.
I held off posting these images because I'd had a different post in mind for when Clinton won the election. Today Trump becomes President of the United States. I'm still in shock.