At the Abrams rally, the crowd hushed as a hoarse Obama, his voice raspy from being back on the campaign trail, encouraged people to not turn their back on diversity and hope. And Obama warned that failing to check the current climate of fear and lies could lead down a path that would be hard to reverse.
Obama: When words stop meaning anything, when people can just make stuff up and there’s no consequences, democracy can’t work. The only guardian of truth is you. You and your vote.
Just miles away, the Trump rally was a hotbed of the fear Obama warned about. Everyone who Tur spoke with—when they would speak with someone from “the fake news”—said they were worried “about immigration and the caravan.” But it wasn’t just that they were worried about immigration from outside the country. They were also worried that Georgia might become “a haven for liberals.” That was a horror they couldn’t abide.
As Trump took the stage slowly clapping and soaking in the affirmation, the crowd let out an earsplitting cheer that sounded like one long guttural roar. “We won’t go back,” they chanted, followed later by “Trump, Trump, Trump” and “win, win, win.”
Trump began his speech by talking not about the current race, but about Hillary Clinton, leading the crowd in a “lock her up” chant. He then launched into his litany of claims about Democrats—open borders, a massive crime wave, and an end to the Second Amendment. Then he warned that Abrams was going to turn Georgia “into Venezuela.”
Trump in 2018 was Trump in 2016. Except even more so. More lies. More racism. More xenophobia. Even more focused on Trump, even though he was supposedly there to support Republican candidates. And the Trump crowd was right there with him.
In all, the weekend could be summed up in two simple appeals to the base. Hope, Change, and Healthcare, versus Caravans, Guns, and Defiance.
And don’t forget, Democracy vs. Authoritarianism. Because that is what’s at stake.