July 21st, 2016. Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio.
The applause is thunderous. 20,000 Republican delegates, party officials, and other assorted personnel jam the arena, and the moment they’ve been awaiting is finally here. Party chairman Reince Priebus introduces the nominee, Donald J. Trump. Tricorn hats with tea bags at the corners flail madly on thousands of heads. People mime shooting into the air with guns they were not allowed to bring inside. There is a palpable air of hysteria. The crowd is, to be generous, purely monochromatic.
Trump, “The Donald,” steps to the podium, fighting against a nearly solid wave of sound. This isn’t an acceptance speech, this is a coronation. The people here are either fanatics, or are willing to pretend as long as it is politically expedient. Anything less than full-throated support would be career suicide. He approaches the podium with the predator lurch of a bear. He waves, he preens. He makes gestures and looks to cameras that would revolt most humans. Most who are not in attendance here tonight, at least. It takes a full five minutes for the applause and shouts to die to an acceptable level as Trump drinks it in like fine wine. It is obvious that he savors every minute of it.
Finally, he motions for silence. The crowd dutifully quiets. It is time for their leader to speak.
“Thank you, thank you all so much. I want to thank the great city of Cleveland, a place that understands what a return to greatness is!” (Thunderous applause). “I want to thank my friends at the RNC for this evening, and I want to thank all of you.”
As the applause dies again, something sails through the air and lands at the edge of the stage. It is a thong. Trump nods and points at it. “I admire your enthusiasm!” he quips. Another minute of raucous screaming before he motions for silence.
“This has been a tough campaign, I’m not going to lie. We fought hard, we duked it out, punched until it hurt our fists. But we did it. We’re here, and we’re ready for the title fight!” Applause.
“Every step of the way, people have rallied behind me. Every step there have been more and more. My message has spread across this great land, and millions have answered the call. When I started, I didn’t think anyone was ready to listen, ready to get on board with what I was selling, but if there’s one thing I know, it’s a deal, right?” Wild applause. “But you did, you heard what I was saying and you took that banner. You took it, and raised it high into the air, and together we marched. From New Hampshire to South Carolina, Nevada, on to Super Tuesday, and beyond, you continued to gather to my vision for making America great again! Every time I thought maybe you wouldn’t, you did. You rallied. You joined the cause!”
Trump waits for the applause to die again. It is feverish. It is the wild-eyed applause of a group of fourth-grade students who have just eaten an entire cake.
“For that, I would like to say…” He pauses. The words scroll up the teleprompter. His face is the same smug mask it’s been since day one, but there is a sudden, almost imperceptible shift. He eyes the next line on the teleprompter, then looks away.
“I would like to say, WHAT IS YOUR GODDAMN PROBLEM?” He bellows into the microphone. An immediate pall falls over the arena. Offstage, Priebus’ hands go clammy and a sheen of sweat instantly forms on his brow. “Cut the microphone. NOW,” he barks at his aide, who scrambles off.
“I’ve been spouting the most insane things for MONTHS!” Trump continues. “Racist, xenophobic nightmares from…” the mic cuts out. He turns deliberately to the side, and locks eyes with Priebus, who is barely contained rage. Trump flicks his eyes to the rafters, nods, then looks back. He speaks, and his microphone is back on. “I’m a media mogul, did you really think you could silence me? Who do you think did the sound work here? Who do you think is running this?” Priebus turns and runs. Trump turns back to the stunned crowd.
“Pure fascism. I thought, ‘no, they’ll definitely balk at building a wall, at deporting everyone, at my overt misogyny,’ but you didn’t! You ate it up like starving dogs! And you didn’t even care what package it came in. A twice-divorced New York elitist with a foreign wife, who was a Clinton-donating registered Democrat a few years ago! There were even rape allegations against me, but you thought barely believable rumors of affairs by one of my opponents was worse! You people are horrifying! I was really hoping you’d say ‘no more, this guy is wrong about everything’, but you didn’t. You fed it. You showed yourselves as the thugs you are. Well now, America gets to see it, too. So enjoy the next few months, you mouth-breathing Neanderthals. Enjoy watching your party tear itself apart trying to find a soul that it clearly sold a long time ago. Good luck finding a nominee, because I want to have nothing to do with you. Good night.”