Sweat-Drenched and High on Glob at Trump's Post-Roe Victory Rally

Saturday's event in Mendon, Illinois, was the first since Roe V. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court

click to enlarge Even ol' Uncle Sam was looking a bit worse for wear in the extreme heat. - REUBEN HEMMER
REUBEN HEMMER
Even ol' Uncle Sam was looking a bit worse for wear in the extreme heat.

This past Saturday, former President Donald Trump hosted his first post-Roe rally in the tiny rural town of Mendon, Illinois, where thousands of his sweat-drenched, heatstroke-addled fans endured blistering temperatures and the relentless oppression of an indifferent sun for the opportunity to celebrate their God's victory over evil, to which He responded by unleashing a thunderstorm on them.

Alongside several fellow far-right goblins — including freshmen U.S. House Representatives Lauren Boebert (R-Colorado) and Mary Miller (R-Illinois), as well as pillow magnate/unhinged lunatic Mike Lindell — Trump used the June 25 event at the Adams County Fairgrounds as an opportunity to heap praise upon himself for installing three of the Supreme Court justices responsible for the overturned precedent, insisting that the ruling was but a culmination of his kept promises.

Privately, though, Trump has reportedly been fretting over the political ramifications of the landmark decision, apparently unaware that the forces that had aligned to put him in power no longer have a need for him and have moved on to other shiny new toys. As reported by the New York Times, Trump expressed concern to advisors upon the release of a draft copy of the decision in May that overturning Roe would cause a backlash against the Republican party in the midterms and anger suburban women, who were instrumental in giving Biden the presidency in 2020.

After Friday's ruling, I, an apparent masochist, decided to travel two hours north of my hometown St. Louis to see what Trump may have to say about all of this, largely because I have a deficit of respect for the value of my own time. Complicating things, a couple years back I was clipped by a car in such a way that my leg fell off and had to be reattached with a bunch of Home Depot supplies (that's perhaps imprecise, but what do I know: that whole incident was a haze of painkillers and twilight drugs), leaving me with a bum hip. Between the strain that walking around at this event would put on me physically and the psychological pain that would surely come from enduring the day's programming, I figured some edibles were warranted.

I procured some homemade gummies from a trusted friend. Well, "gummies" plural is also imprecise; though they'd started that way they'd since melted and recongealed into what my friend dubbed a "glob," of which I was advised to simply break off a chunk. However, when I retrieved the concoction at the site I found that the oppressive 90-plus-degree heat of the day had reduced my glob further into a liquid state, leaving me with a ziploc bag full of runny mucus as my afternoon's only salvation. I took an unquantifiable swig of the hot, viscous potion and headed for the entrance.

click to enlarge Behold the glob. - DANIEL HILL
DANIEL HILL
Behold the glob.

Trump's rally playlist, for which the only identifiable theme was "chaos," greeted me with Phil Collins' "In the Air Tonight" as I made my way through the shakedown streets outside the entrance, where vendors peddled every manner of flag/shirt/hat/sign/bumper sticker to the Trump diehards, most of whom were already clad in variations of the designs on display.

There was merch depicting Trump as every manner of macho badass, riding on tanks and holding guns, and even some separately re-imagining Trump as both Rocky and Rambo, because Trump fans apparently really get off when his head is affixed to Sylvester Stallone's rippling body. The whole field in which the commerce was being conducted smelled like literal shit, which I mention not in judgement of this farming community but as a simple statement of fact. I opted to wander around the area outside of the gates to the rally itself for a while, taking in the sights.

I saw a one-armed man step out of a white pickup truck that had no less than 12 flags of differing varieties affixed to 4 poles mounted on the back of it. I had a brief brush with royalty in the form of Miss Quincy’s Outstanding Teen 2022, who was wearing her crown and sash while waiting in line. I knew the glob had fully taken hold when I was reduced to hysterics by the sight of a white van wearing a MAGA hat.

click to enlarge Objectively hilarious. - REUBEN HEMMER
REUBEN HEMMER
Objectively hilarious.

More ominously, I saw a Ram 2500 sporting a decal of a Black Sun, which is commonly used by neo-Nazis and white supremacists, including the white man who killed 10 Black people during a mass shooting in Buffalo in May, who had affixed the symbol to both his body armor and his manifesto.

Nearer to the gates, giant screens displayed hyper-dramatic videos about nonexistent election fraud for the captive audience snaking its way through a maze of fencing in the intense heat. It struck me at this point that the story of Trump's rallies is truly the story of modern America itself: beset on all sides by capitalism and distracted by television as you cook alive in extreme weather conditions, shuffling forward on a preset path while trying to pretend everything is fine.

Inside the gates was no better. There was simply no shade to be found anywhere, save for the seating behind the stage and a small sliver behind the media staging area. Nevertheless, the faithful dutifully shuffled in and endured the suffering for the chance to witness their messiah in the flesh. Some wore sun hats and others held umbrellas, but none looked comfortable.

click to enlarge A shot of the heat-stricken crown Trump's rally. - REUBEN HEMMER
REUBEN HEMMER
A shot of the heat-stricken crown Trump's rally.

At 4 p.m., the festivities finally kicked off in earnest with — I shit you not — the entrance music for WWE superstar the Undertaker, a foreboding and sinister track that incorporates elements of Frédéric Chopin's "Funeral March" with repeated "For Whom the Bell Tolls" style clangs. But rather than being treated to the imposing entrance of towering professional wrestler Mark William Calaway, we instead got the comparatively diminutive chaplain of the Illinois Veterans Home Don Blickhan, who did not slam even one person through a table.

After a short prayer, Blickhan spoke for a while about how cool and great Trump is, mostly leading me to wonder to myself, as I often do, why it is that we don't tax churches. "Mr. Trump ran for office," he said. "Few thought he could win, but he did. Then all hell broke loose." On that point, at least, we can agree, though he probably has a different hell in mind than I do.

The Pledge of Allegiance was next, with one audience member making sure to scream the "under God" part, after which Doris Sanders of the Quincy Symphony Chorus came out to sing the national anthem. She did a mostly serviceable job, playing it fairly straight while leaning heavily on vibrato for style points. Naturally, the crowd followed her performance up with a chant of "USA! USA! USA!"

click to enlarge Lauren Boebert and Mike Lindell await their turns to speak. - REUBEN HEMMER
REUBEN HEMMER
Lauren Boebert and Mike Lindell await their turns to speak.

Boebert was the first major speaker to hit the stage. "Patriots! Who's ready to take back America?" she inquired to a cacophony of cheers.

Boebert explained that she was in town to support Miller, who is in the midst of a primary matchup against U.S. Representative Rodney Davis (R-Illinois) for control of Illinois' 15th Congressional District in a race that will be decided Tuesday night. She flew in from Colorado, she said, noting a stop in St. Louis on the way.

"I land in St. Louis, and I saw a man that had fallen over on his bike, and I said, 'Biden?'" she remarked, referencing the objectively funny moment, recently caught on tape, when the president got his foot caught on the pedal to his bicycle and dropped to the ground like a sack of potatoes. She continued: "Like, what is going on here? Who would have known we needed training wheels in the White House?"

With the stand-up comedy out of the way, Boebert launched into a hard sell for Miller, saying all the things you'd expect her to say about the latter's positions on various exhausting culture war talking points. "Her heart is so sweet for you and she loves you so dearly," she pandered.

From there she moved on to talk of the Supreme Court.

"Those were President Trump's justices that he appointed," she said. "Promises made, promises kept. Thank you Trump!"

The crowd immediately responded with a "thank you Trump" chant.

click to enlarge Flags of all variety form an important theme at Trump's rallies. - REUBEN HEMMER
REUBEN HEMMER
Flags of all variety form an important theme at Trump's rallies.

"These are important victories," she said. "This is what you have worked for, this is what you have prayed for, and the harvest of these prayers will result in children five years from today running to school with smiles on their face because they get a chance to live."

Once again she was met with rapturous applause.

Lindell was up next, sweaty and delusional as always. He too heaped praise on Trump for the overturning of Roe, then talked about how much he used to like crack, vowed to get rid of voting machines and bafflingly insisted that 40 percent of Democrats now believe the 2020 election was stolen, which is, of course, complete nonsense. It's fairly clear that the only reason that Trump continues to give this guy a platform is that Lindell is perfectly willing to say the most ridiculous shit in the world in service of whatever Trump's agenda is, but frankly the man just can't hold a crowd's attention well enough to justify his slot here. While reviewing my notes for this story, I found a line in the Lindell section that simply read "this guy sure says a lot of stuff," which remains my overall assessment.

When Lindell was finished letting the wind blow through the empty space between his ears, Miller took the stage. Based on what she and those hyping her up had to say, it would appear that her main qualification for public office is the sizable number of grandchildren she has — between 17 and 19, depending on which speaker you believe. She seemed to think it was 19 on this day, though her Twitter page says 17. To be fair, who could possibly keep track?

Notably, Miller has a whole section on her Wikipedia page with the title "Comment about Hitler," which is rarely a good sign. That's because, just two days into her term, she gave the leader of the Third Reich props for his youth indoctrination programs, saying, "You know, if we win a few elections, we're still going to be losing unless we win the hearts and minds of our children. This is the battle. Hitler was right on one thing: He said, 'Whoever has the youth has the future.'"

click to enlarge Mary Miller, most likely in the middle of saying some Nazi shit. - REUBEN HEMMER
REUBEN HEMMER
Mary Miller, most likely in the middle of saying some Nazi shit.

Being that Miller has a tendency to say things like "Hitler was right," I'm not particularly interested in transcribing any of the bullshit she was spewing at this event, so we're just gonna move right along.

At this point there was a break in the programming, and the dose of glob I'd consumed upon my arrival was no longer having a noticeable effect — very concerning, considering the fact Trump was up next to speak — so I decided to retreat back to the vehicle I'd arrived in, where I'd left a vape pen that the secret service told me I couldn't bring inside. On my way there and back I saw a fair number of people who seemed to be falling victim to the heat, with a crowd of about a dozen or so laying on blankets in some rare shade outside the EMS tent.

I also noticed that the playlist had grown ever more chaotic: Willie Nelson's "Always on My Mind," Brenda Lee's "I'm Sorry," "Africa" by Toto. Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" was cut short mid-song in favor of Queen's "We Will Rock You." The titular song from Phantom of the Opera was played for the confused crowd, as well as "Do You Hear the People Sing?" from Les Miserables. Nobody seemed to know any of the showtunes.

At one point the DJ vexingly played NSYNC's 2000 hit "Bye Bye Bye," serving as proof that he was utterly unable to read the room and growing increasingly desperate. He managed to get the crowd fully back on board, though, with the Village People's "YMCA," which in a development that no one could have predicted even a handful of years ago has become something of an anthem for Trumpism.

click to enlarge "It's fun to stay at the...." - REUBEN HEMMER
REUBEN HEMMER
"It's fun to stay at the...."

Notably absent from the playlist was the Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want," previously a staple of these events. The relatively new inclusion of the Stones' "Under My Thumb" did seem more appropriate, though, following the overturning of Roe. From the lyrics:

It's down to me
Yes it is
The way she does just what she's told, down to me
The change has come
She's under my thumb

As I was returning to my spot, I had to step to the side in order to let some EMS workers through, who were attending to a sweat-soaked woman clearly suffering from heatstroke. This was becoming an increasingly common occurrence, and I watched as a staffer threw water bottles into a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd of heat-stricken attendees, giving off real post-Hurricane-Florence-Puerto-Rico-paper-towel vibes. It occurred to me that there is literally nothing in the world that I would want to see so badly that I'd willingly stand in that crowd in this heat, which speaks to the intensity of Trump's fans' devotion to the man.

At last the big moment came, and Trump took the stage to the sounds of Lee Greenwood's "Proud to Be an American," greeted by a roar of applause from the excited crowd. He wasted no time in taking a victory lap for the overturning of Roe.

click to enlarge Trump greets his adoring fans. - REUBEN HEMMER
REUBEN HEMMER
Trump greets his adoring fans.

"Before we begin, we've got some very big news don't we? We have very big news. Maybe the biggest," he said. "Right from the United States Supreme Court. Yesterday the Supreme Court handed down a victory for the Constitution, a victory for the rule of law and, above all, a victory for life."

Telling the crowd that their prayers had been answered, Trump predictably patted himself on the back for stacking the courts to get this outcome, even though truthfully that work probably amounted to little more than picking names out of a hat marked "Federalist Society" and congratulating those selected on their new jobs.

"I promised to nominate judges and justices who would stand up for the original meaning of the Constitution and who would honestly and faithfully interpret the law as written," he said. "We got almost 300 federal judges and 3 great Supreme Court justices confirmed to do exactly that."

From there Trump moved to talk of guns — always a hit with this crowd. He spoke of the Supreme Court's Thursday decision that ruled Americans' right to arm themselves is not restricted to the home. The Court tossed out a New York law prohibiting possession of handguns in public in an opinion that allows basically anyone in the country to carry a concealed weapon on them at all times.

click to enlarge No, not those guns.... - REUBEN HEMMER
REUBEN HEMMER
No, not those guns....

"I told you when I started my campaign that I will protect the Second Amendment, and nobody has protected it like me," he said. In his typically dramatic style, Trump then decried the "left-wing campaign of terror directed at the Supreme Court," dubbing it "unlike anything in the history of our country" and praising the justices for standing up to the "terrorists."

From there, the evening's programming settled into the usual rally fare, with Trump falsely insisting the 2020 election was stolen and decrying the January 6 "unselect committee," and U.S. Representative Liz Cheney in particular, whom he dubbed a "real loser" as the crowd booed.

"There has never been anything like what took place in 2020," he insisted. "They used COVID to rig and steal an election. It's all just a continuation of the fake Russia Russia Russian scam."

By this point Trump started trotting out all the hits. Adam "Shifty" Schiff bad, Jim Jordan good. His "perfect" phone call with Georgia's Secretary of State. The "backstabbers and RINOs" like Adam Kinzinger. The crowd, who up to this point had been standing at attention, settled into their seats. Behind me, another woman passed out from the heat and had to be ushered out by EMS.

At one point, as he was yammering about "illegal immigrants" and the "border crisis," Trump saw fit to acknowledge the extreme temperatures.

"And by the way, today it's hotter here than it is on the border. In fact — do you mind?" he asked, producing a towel to wipe the sweat off his face. "Because I'm gonna go home and the First Lady's going to say, 'You were extremely warm today.' Well it's 100 degrees out. It is very warm out there... It is hot!"

click to enlarge A sweaty Trump pauses mid-speech to mop his face with a towel. - REUBEN HEMMER
REUBEN HEMMER
A sweaty Trump pauses mid-speech to mop his face with a towel.

After delusionally crediting himself for inventing the terms "fake news," "unselect committee" and "America first," none of which he actually invented, Trump invited Miller to the stage. She wasted no time in saying some more Hitler shit.

"President Trump, on behalf of all the MAGA patriots in America, I want to thank you for the historic victory for white life in the Supreme Court yesterday," she said.

Her campaign has since claimed that, in inserting the word "white" in there, she had misspoke. You wouldn't have known it at the time though, as she immediately raised her hands to lead the crowd in a round of applause while Trump looked on approvingly.

But with that little (at best) Freudian slip, Miller gave the game away. The overturning of Roe v. Wade has long served as a Trojan horse for the far right, who would love nothing more than to undo all of the progress of the 20th century and return the country to a darker time, when straight white men were the only ones who really had any rights to speak of.

Justice Clarence Thomas made that explicitly clear with the concurring opinion he wrote upon the overturning of Roe. Thomas wrote that the Supreme Court “should reconsider" its rulings on  "Griswold, Lawrence and Obergefell,” which codified citizens' rights to contraception access, same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage. Notably, the 1965 Griswold decision hinged on upholding the fundamental right to privacy in the United States; if it is overturned, we could soon find ourselves not only stripped of our fundamental rights, but also living in a full-on totalitarian surveillance state.

It was an unholy alliance between the regressive Federalist Society ghouls, who now dominate the Supreme Court, and the Christofascist evangelicals, whose main desire is to eliminate the separation between church and state and usher the United States into an era of theocracy, that helped to elevate and empower Trump in the first place. Their gamble paid off, and now they're just getting started.

click to enlarge Trump looks up at the ominous clouds overtaking the sky. - REUBEN HEMMER
REUBEN HEMMER
Trump looks up at the ominous clouds overtaking the sky.

Dark clouds had been gathering on the horizon throughout Trump's speech, and the lightning they brought was enough to wrap the event up early. Trump told the assembled crowd he loved them and promptly left the stage, thunder boomed and the skies opened up, drenching all in attendance.

As I hurried back to the parking lot, I couldn't help but feel like the sudden storm was an apt metaphor for the future of the United States in a post-Roe world dominated by far-right ideology. For my whole life, I'd taken for granted many of the freedoms and rights that had been hard-won before I was born, believing naively that progress was ongoing and inevitable, that the imperfect experiment that is American democracy would continuously lead to more enlightened thought, that the arc of history is long but it bends toward justice.

The events of the past week have made it clear that this social order was far more fragile than I'd previously suspected, and that the dark clouds can roll in at any time. Unfortunately, there's not enough glob in the world to assuage the unsettled feelings that realization brings.

About The Author

Daniel Hill

Daniel Hill is editor at large for the Riverfront Times and he demands to be taken seriously, despite all evidence to the contrary. Follow him on Twitter at @editorfatlarge.
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