Ubiñas: Among Trump supporters in search of hope

People wait in the frigid weather outside the Giant Center in Hershey before Thursday's rally for President-elect Trump, who followed a familiar script.

HERSHEY, Pa. - As a member of the "clueless media elite," I thought I'd try a different approach at Donald Trump's thank-you rally Thursday.

Rather than being trapped in the cattle chute of reporters, I headed to the floor of Giant Center to get another perspective - to see what Trump and his supporters keep insisting we "libtards" are missing.

You didn't think I'd drive all the way to Hershey just to hear what comes out of the mouth of a guy who boasts about grabbing women's vaginas, insists he's too busy for intelligence briefings while taking meetings with Kanye West, and, more than a month after winning, is still taking a victory lap. At some point, the party's gotta end, right?

First group I came upon was a bunch of guys going on about the press - "CNN is the worst," "NBC is the worst." Dave Delp, a social worker from Harrisburg, had a lot of things to say on the subject while he held a handmade sign that read, "Don't believe the liberal media."

So what are we missing, I asked.

For starters, he said, the truth. We don't even show the crowds at the rallies, he said, moments after I had posted a series of photos of the 7,000 or so supporters in attendance.

After a lot of back and forth, the truth that he and many others I talked to said the dishonest media was missing could be summed up like so: that the people gathered here, the people who voted for Trump, should be treated with respect.

Right around that time, Amy Ross walked by with her teenage daughter. "Let's stand near the press," she said. "I want to boo them, and I want to make sure they can see my face."

It was a theme that came up over and over as the night wore on, a familiar script that started in line outside in the freezing weather as crowds waited to get in and continued as Trump took the stage to recap his win, state by state, like an old, injured football player reminiscing about that big game.

There wasn't much new in his speech. He promised to build the wall, to bring back jobs, to drain the swamp, to make America first. His administration would follow two rules, he said: "Buy American and hire American."

People talk about how we live in a global world, Trump continued as the crowd cheered, but the relationships that matter most are local: "There's no global flag."

As dangerously xenophobic as that sounded, I reminded myself that I was there to see another perspective.

I was standing in a mostly white crowd - but one that was mixed by gender and age. I was surprised to see how many high school and college-age people were there. Young people who were genuinely excited to be in the crowd.

Josh Potter, 22, had come with a bunch of his friends from various parts of the Hershey area. He'd gone to community college but was struggling to find work. He believes Trump will make things better for people like him.

As Trump talked about bringing jobs to America, about putting factory workers and coal miners back to work, you could feel that people wanted to believe and needed to believe. And no matter how much I might disagree that the man who obsessively complained about the media would be their savior, who could blame anyone for that, I thought?

Beyond the tough talk in the crowd, what I often heard was a lot of fear - fear of losing their place in the world, whatever that place is.

And then somewhere behind me, I could hear a guy complaining about the press again.

"Reporters are retards."

ubinas@phillynews.com

215-854-5943@NotesFromHel