Downtown Austin was a cacophony of chants as the city prepared for the arrival of President Donald Trump, who was scheduled to speak at the Farm Bureau convention. People crowded the sidewalks while holding signs and shouting their political slogans as cars passed by and honked their support.
Walking through the streets, you could feel the palpable energy as demonstrators from both sides of the political divide expressed their feelings while sporting signs, flags, and other political paraphernalia. Shouts of “Lock him up! Lock him up! Lock him up!” and “Trump, Pence, Out Now!” constituted the soundtrack of the afternoon as anti-Trump protesters made their disapproval known.
Conversely, supporters of the president were decked out in MAGA gear, carrying flags, signs, and other displays of pro-Trump and anti-socialist attitudes. Some wore shirts expressing support for the 2nd amendment, likely in solidarity with those who would be taking their petitions to the Virginia state government the next day.
The demonstrations were scattered. The perimeter of the block on which the Austin Convention Center sits was peppered with protesters and Trump supporters. In one exchange, an animal rights group whose leader was using a bullhorn shouted: “No more oppression! Animal liberation!” Undaunted, the Trump supporters on the other side of the intersection shouted back: “Steak is delicious!”
Fortunately, there was no violence. Rows of police officers clad in bulletproof vests and other gear were present to protect the public from potential danger. Secret Service agents could be seen monitoring the area.
RedState spoke with demonstrators from both sides to discuss their reasons for showing up. I spoke with two ladies in the anti-Trump camp. They were hesitant to speak with me at first, but they quickly opened up when I asked them about the president. One of the ladies, who identified herself as a “moderate” took issue with the Republican Party and their failure to push back against the president. “They should stand up to him,” she said.
She indicated that she has voted for candidates from both parties in the past, but she was definitely sour on Trump, stating that if she had a choice, she’d rather have someone like Sen. Ted Cruz. “I would support Ted Cruz, if given the choice,” she said. “Do I agree with everything he says? No, but would I support him over Trump? Yes.”
The other woman expressed her consternation with the president’s behavior. “Trump has a history of being a cheat and a liar.” But her biggest concern seemed to be the standing of the U.S. in the international arena. “Also, when you have a world stage, I would prefer someone that was more respectable,” she said. “He’s ruining our relationship with a lot of our allies, who used to be our allies and now they’re not.”
I also spoke with an individual with RefuseFascism.org, who identified himself as a “liberaltarian.” Interestingly enough, most of his criticism had less to do with Trump’s personality and more to do with his economic policies. One of his chief concerns was the tariffs against Chinese imports. “I like free trade,” he began. “I don’t think tariffs are always bad, but I think that they’re usually bad. He levied a bunch [of tariffs] just because he’s terrified of Chinese people because they’re not white people. There’s no other deeper justification than that.”
He continued, pointing out that, “In order to compensate for it, he took tens of billions of dollars of taxpayer money and decided to redirect it. So he’s doing the thing governments always do, where they cause a problem and then they say that they fixed it with another worse problem.”
The left was out in full force yesterday, but they were not the only ones making their voices heard. Supporters of the president also came to express their love of the president. One demonstrator, who identified as an American of Mexican descent, told me he was there because “We love our country. We want America never to be a socialistic country. We want to stick to our Constitution, what our forefathers established.”
He also expressed his appreciation for America. “I’m an American of Mexican descent, but my allegiance and my loyalty is toward America.” He also explained that, “this great nation has taken care of me and I’m blessed and fortunate to have been born here.”
Another Trump supporter told me that they are “tired of the pandering and identity politics going on.” Another in the group chimed in, “If you’re Hispanic, you have to vote Democrat, if you’re black, you have to vote Democrat. We have to have our free minds and our free will.”
They also criticized the effort to impeach and remove Trump from office:
“What we see Nancy Pelosi doing is, we see her trying to overturn the will of the American electorate. They’re still working on 2016 and we’re already in another re-election season and it’s getting really ridiculous.”
One member of the group called the impeachment proceedings “completely one-sided,” and an “absolute embarrassment.”
I also spoke with a U.S. Marine who served in the first Gulf War. “I support my country. I like Trump. I like what he’s doing for the country. He’s making things better, jobs, I mean everything. The VA got way better. I spent 28 years fighting with the VA and they used to be horrible. Now it’s a lot better since he got in there and did something for them.”
It’s no surprise that so many left-leaning protesters showed up to excoriate the president. Austin is a blue city, after all. But, it’s a blue city in Texas, which means there are still plenty of conservatives. However, with the Democrats making a push to gain more seats in the state’s legislature, it is clear that the battle between Texans on the left and the right is in full swing in 2020.
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