Standing within the tiny rural city of Martinsburg, Pennsylvania, Marine One flew previous my proper shoulder in the direction of 1000’s of awestruck People, holding their telephones up, captivated, like a cult following.
Within the phrases of my Dad, “that is rock n roll, Al”.
Credence Clearwater Revival will eternally remind me of the President’s imminent arrival – I knew the order of the rally playlist ultimately, and knew Lucky Son meant the Commander-in-Chief wasn’t far-off.
And I problem you to play that track in your lounge room and never get fired up, even only a bit.
Love him or hate him (appears there is not any in between), it is not possible to not be moved in a technique or one other by the environment at a ‘Make America Nice Once more’ rally.
Regardless of failing to ship on guarantees he made to some elements of Ohio, I spoke to many alternative voters at a rally in Circleville – households, farmers, working ladies – and all really feel he is served them nicely, taken care of jobs and the economic system and deserves one other time period. That was a turning level in my 2020 election prediction.
It was fairly evident that in a few of these distant, rural American communities, Donald Trump can do no mistaken.
Of their eyes, he is a rock star President as a result of he is not a politician, he is standing up for the employees and as many mentioned to me, echoing Mr Trump’s mantra, he is placing “America First”.
Let’s for a minute recognize the facility this man has: he has managed to persuade hundreds of thousands of People that coronavirus will disappear, and that there is not any have to put on a masks, as greater than 2000 fellow People die day by day.
And he has accomplished this purely together with his personal phrases. Mr Trump thought if he may efficiently downplay the seriousness of a world pandemic, he would not lose assist for failing to regulate it.
And for his most loyal supporter base, arguably that labored for him.
They take heed to what he says and consider all of it – granting him the presumption of truth-teller like no different politician has been afforded.
It was fascinating watching his supporters packed in collectively, principally maskless, listening to their president converse on stage.
They have been transfixed, cheering at each pause, booing the media when he pointed at us on the rostrum.
And for a lot of hundreds of thousands of People, this following translated into votes for the incumbent President.
So, as I arrived in Wilmington Delaware, I used to be nearly sure Trump had the election within the bag.
His lead grew within the essential ‘blue wall’ states Donald Trump took in 2016 – Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan. At this level, I feel the sensation amongst People was considered one of nervous unknowing.
The apparent argument is that polls have gotten it mistaken earlier than, and plenty of say they cannot be trusted. I additionally could not get the pictures of devoted crowds at Trump rallies out of my thoughts.
Nicely, I received sucked in. I received sucked in by the optics of Donald Trump’s marketing campaign. And because it seems, optics depend for nothing relating to a Presidential Election.
What counts greater than optics?
What you stand for as an individual. And the American folks have spoken.
Regardless of Donald Trump’s relentless authorized challenges in opposition to the result of the election, he is come up quick.
His administration this week signed off on giving Mr Biden entry to essential sources to work on his transition to the White Home.
But Donald Trump has expressed through Twitter this isn’t a concession.
And not more than 12 hours later, the State of Pennsylvania – which tipped Joe Biden to the required 270 electoral school votes – licensed its election outcomes, ascertaining Joe Biden the winner.
The writing is on the wall, simply not on Donald Trump’s Twitter thread.
Joe Biden’s marketing campaign was admittedly extremely tough to cowl. He not often held occasions, when he did we could not acquire entry as a result of his staff restricted numbers attributable to social distancing.
And even when he did maintain occasions, his speeches weren’t fairly the present we received from the Entertainer-in-Chief gallivanting throughout the nation.
However, evidently People have been listening to each phrase from Mr Biden.
They appreciated his promise to comply with the science to struggle Coronavirus.
They listened when he promised to rebuild the economic system.
And there have been undoubtedly hundreds of thousands extra who thought “At this level, anybody however Trump”.
And certainly Biden’s marketing campaign wished People to think about the election as a referendum on Donald Trump.
I interviewed Blake Marnell – or “Brick Man” – as he is dubbed. He wears a brick swimsuit as a present of his assist for Mr Trump.
As him and I drove from Tucson, Arizona via to New Mexico throughout his street journey, we talked in regards to the ‘silent majority’.
That is the cohort of Trump followers who will not be ready to promote their assist for Donald Trump as conspicuously as Blake, however assist him strongly nonetheless.
And there is loads of them! I’ve met many People alongside my travels who mentioned they might vote for Mr Trump however don’t love to speak about it, as a result of they know he says and does some questionable issues.
These folks, in my expertise, are comparatively well-to-do, middle-aged and older People, who don’t desire their nest egg disturbed.
However by advantage of Joe Biden’s victory, a brand new silent majority has been born.
It is a byproduct of the loopy, complicated, difficult and testing yr that has been 2020, and a byproduct of holding a Presidential election within the midst of a world well being disaster.
Joe Biden determined to maintain a really low profile all through his marketing campaign. And so too did his voters.
His voters, like Biden, have been following the science and avoiding crowds, doubtless staying dwelling, and presumably sporting a masks. And that is what a pacesetter does, leads by instance to get his folks via tough instances.
And so, neither Joe Biden nor his supporters received the ‘air-time’ Donald Trump and his rallies did.
And, because it seems, they have been actually the silent majority. With People now so extraordinarily polarized by the hands of their allegiance to the Republican or Democratic events, it appears Biden’s reputation was underestimated – swallowed up by the ‘in-your-face’ marketing campaign model of his opponent.
Optics would not depend for as a lot as I assumed and it would not have the facility to vary outcomes outlined by votes. Optics is bluff. And voters are emotionally charged within the US greater than ever earlier than.
Surprisingly, there have been many instances throughout the marketing campaign when People would ask me – “What do you consider Donald Trump and what is going on on right here?”
I shortly learnt it is not a dialog to interact in, so my go-to response was all the time alongside the strains of “I am not American and I do not vote, so it would not matter what I feel”.
Once I stood with my cameraman watching fireworks glitter and pop from Biden’s marketing campaign headquarters, after so many days of not understanding, I felt an awesome sense of hope for America.
The time is now for some calm and warning. This yr has been, in a phrase, wild.
It has been a raging blur with a extremely contagious illness on the helm. We did not know a lot about Coronavirus because it first swept via the Large Apple – rapidly this claustrophobic and thrilling metropolis was a large open area of quiet.
After which we understood COVID-19 a bit higher, and we began getting used to sporting a masks, navigating the brand new regular again in LA’s dry warmth.
However then, simply as the brand new regular settled, the nation erupted in anger after George Floyd’s dying by the hands of a policeman.
Many protested peacefully, some did not.
These days and weeks of unrest have left a permanent sense of hysteria on the streets that continues to be right this moment.
Enterprise homeowners boarded up their home windows months in the past, many have by no means taken these boards down. Different companies have been deserted altogether.
And now, it is like we have gone full circle.
The pandemic is furiously spreading, infecting People at an alarming fee. And lockdown restrictions are being reinstated.
And that is why I felt so hopeful the night time I listened to Joe Biden declare victory. Unity has been on the coronary heart of his message all alongside.
America wants unity greater than the rest.