Donald Trump stranded his own supporters in freezing, hypothermic cold. That's the story of his life.


Photo credit: Gage Skidmore, Flickr. License.

Donald Trump is so afraid of losing to Joe Biden that he traveled to Nebraska yesterday - a state that voted for him in 2016 by 25 points - to salvage a single electoral vote in a single Congressional district. Given the rally location Omaha's proximity to Iowa, it's reasonable to think that he also wanted to talk to Iowa voters, another state he won by double digits four years ago.

But Trump's electorally defensive posture would have been the story coming out of his Omaha rally were it not for the following: in sub-freezing tempertatures in the low 20s when accounting for the wind-chill factor, Donald Trump and his campaign wheeled up when the rally ended, with no way for his supporters to return to the parking lot for the event, nearly 4 miles from the airport hanger where the rally was held.

The Trump campaign provided buses from the parking lot to the rally for his supporters to attend, but did not, evidently, make similar plans to bus them back. As a result, hundreds of people, many elderly, were stranded for hours without any way to get back to their vehicles to go home. By the time local authorities were able to ferry people back and clear the area, 30 people had to be treated for cold-related illness, including hypothermia, and at least 7 had to be hospitalized. Asked for comment, the Trump campaign blamed it on the roads rather than taking responsibility for not planning in advance.

If Donald Trump will do this to his own supporters, then is his response to the COVID - largely consisting of pretending it will go away and pining about how bad the coverage has been to him - any surprise?

It is difficult not to feel compassion for those who were stranded in the cold, and I do, but I won't deny that the compassion I feel is tempered by the fact that these very same people, just before their own predicament, were chanting for their candidate's political opponents to be locked up. They, of their own free will, showed up to a COVID superspreader event to see a man for whom cruelty has always the point. They went to cheer on a president who boasts about not taking responsibility for our country's dismal response to the pandemic, a president who separated the children of refugees from their parents as a way to disincentivize them from seeking asylum in the US, a man who called neo-Nazis fine people, a man who withheld aid from an American island, a president who is attempting to strip a hundred million Americans of their health care protections via judicial activism.

The compassion I feel is human, but it is not without the knowledge that were I - a gay immigrant and a person of color - were stuck in the cold after a political rally for my preferred candidate, many of the same people I have compassion for would respond with little more than a cruel laugh. Indeed, there's good reason to believe that the reaction of most Trump supporters who were stranded would be no different from this satirical, but deftly accurate, representation.

But in the end of the day, the Trump supporters being stranded in the way they were was a perfect microcosm to the Trump presidency and also to Donald Trump's life. Donald Trump has the least amount of respect for people who back him, because he thinks of them as suckers. Multiple Trump associates - government and private - can, and do, attest to this very fact, including his former personal lawyer, the co-author of his autobiography, and his own former appointees in high levels of government. Association with, or support for, Donald Trump never benefits the associate or the supporter in the long run, only Trump.

And yet that is what cultism is about. Will some of the people from last night's rally wake up - perhaps even in a hospital bed - and recognize that their dear leader is bereft of empathy, human compassion, and selflessness, to say nothing of competence? I hope so, but I have my doubts. Perhaps the coverage of this story will wake up some who see it in the media.