Photo Courtesy of: The Verge
By: Jeremy Perillo
President Donald Trump hosted his first campaign rally following months of a coronavirus-induced hiatus to his signature campaign strategy. The event was not without controversy, as the rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma had been in the media for weeks due to the significant attention and pushback received surrounding the date and location of the rally.
The original rally was set to be on Juneteenth (June 19), a holiday celebrating the emancipation of the last remaining enslaved African Americans in the Confederacy. That, coupled with Tulsa’s horrific Black Wall Street Massacre of 1921, where mobs of white Americans attacked black residents and businesses of the Greenwood District, caused Trump’s campaign to postpone the rally a day later.
The rally comes as coronavirus cases are surging in states like Florida, Texas, and Arizona. The president’s strategy of touting success over the coronavirus, despite data saying otherwise, has caused him sharp criticism from scientists, Democrats, and even a GOP Senator.
Top Senate Republican John Thune urged Trump to shift his current methodology as Trump suffers in the polls behind former vice president Joe Biden, caused by the White House’s insufficient coronavirus response, looming civil unrest, and an ailing economy.
“Right now, obviously, Trump has a problem with the middle of the electorate, with independents, and they’re the people who are undecided in national elections,” Thune said. “I think he can win those back, but it’ll probably require not only a message that deals with substance and policy but, I think, a message that conveys, perhaps, a different tone.”
When it came time for his rallied return, Trump’s big night fell flat. The arena where the rally took place has a capacity of around 19,000 people, but Trump was only able to fill one-third of that, or just under 6,200 individuals according to the Tulsa Fire Marshal. The lack of attendance was evident by the empty sections of the upper-tiered seating, as well as a sparse standing-room section.
The turnout served as an embarrassment to the event organizers, as there had been an overflow stage built in a nearby parking lot, where the President planned on making some remarks. The campaign boasted the high demand for tickets in anticipation of the event, hence the reasoning for building an overflow area.
A possible explanation for the lack of attendance was a ploy by various individuals, including some on the social media platform TikTok, to reserve tickets without the actual intention to attend the event, to spite and protest Trump and his rally.
K-pop fans are also claiming victory for disrupting the event. One video that was circulated on TikTok and Twitter called on BTS (a K-pop boy band) fans to join the trolling. This would not be the first time K-pop fans have used their vast numbers to influence social change.
With Biden’s lead over Trump in the polls and Trump’s recent struggles, some may disregard Trump as a real threat in November. Quite the contrary. The 2020 presidential election is nearly four months away, and while that may seem soon, a lot can happen in the next several months. While the current standing of Trump and Biden is indicative of how Americans feel about America’s current struggles, it is no way a clear indicator of who will win the presidency.